Review Policy

So you care enough about how we review games to have a look at our policy. You’ll find all the gritty details of our review process detailed below, including a breakdown of scores, our code of ethics, and our mission statement with regards to providing you accurate and informative written reviews.

While we do make a point of noting a game’s first impression, we don’t pretend that review scores are final. Gone are the days of static reviews that would either catapult a game into stardom or leave it wallowing on the shelf. We live in a connected world now, and games are getting updated all the time.

This means that if a game is noticeably improved after we’ve scored it, we may revisit it to update its score to reflect said improvements. We can’t do this for every game, but we shall certainly address games that have had issues at launch that were followed up by a sizable patch.

How We Review Games

The staff of Niche Gamer harbor no biases, agendas, or jaded cynicism about the games they play. We may make comparisons to mechanics or aesthetics from other games, but ultimately every game is its own thing when we review it.

We use the full review scale here at Niche Gamer. We’re very against the negative stigma attached to a game getting below an 8 or 9. This doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing. We don’t necessarily add or remove points as the review progresses. Rather, our review process is involved and holistic.

The reviewer plays the game, notes things he or she liked and didn’t like, and then assigns a score. The EIC discusses the game with the reviewer each time before a review is published. The EIC ensures that they feel comfortable with the review as is. However, judgements are generally not questioned unless the score doesn’t match with the content of the review.

We consider all aspects of the game to decide whether a game is ultimately worth your time. The score we assign a game is the final breakdown of all its components, its strong points, and its shortcomings.

Needless to say: we’re gamers, too, and we’re letting you know if said game is truly worth your precious time and money.

Review Ethics

We will always let you know if we were provided a review copy by the developer/publisher for the review in question. We have zero contact with developers or publishers regarding the final review score before it’s published.

Niche Gamer writers do not cover developers or publishers in whom they’ve previously invested or are currently investing (financially or personally), who have previously employed them, or to whom they’re related or have close relationships.

We do not accept gifts, travel or accommodation from companies we cover. If we cover or review a game at a company-sponsored or monitored event, we’ll let you know. If we are provided lodging or transportation from a sponsored company, the involved staff shall recuse themselves from said game/company.

If you have any questions about our review policy, please contact us via our contact page.

Brandon Orselli, founder and editor-in-chief at Niche Gamer

Our Review Scale

The game is not necessarily the best game ever made, but it is decidedly one of the best in its genre. Usually, whatever the game does, it does better than most of its peers.
A nine is essentially a 10 but is noticeably flawed in some obvious way that mars the experience. Basically, you should still play it.
This game is really good, but not exceptional overall. If you think you might want to play it, you do. If you’re not quite sure, you probably still do.
This game has a special something going for it. If it’s not your thing, it’s probably still not your thing, but whatever the X factor is could change your mind.
There’s something about this game that makes it better than average, but it’s not of much consequence. If you think you might like the game, you probably will. If you don’t, you won’t.
This game is average. It’s uninspired, but still competent. This is the place where things like the best movie tie-in games live.
Notably sub-par in some way. Imagine a 9 with nothing particularly good about it. Legitimately bad, but you can imagine someone liking it.
A core mechanic of the game is inherently broken. It clearly does not work as intended, and the rest of the game doesn’t obfuscate this fact. There are likely urban legends about this game’s development.
The game’s so shockingly bad that it actually manages somehow to become interesting. Russian and Chinese bootleg games make up most of this vast plateau of the surreal.
We don’t know what this is. Maybe it’s the video game equivalent of that video from The Ring, and the simple act of playing it at all causes egregious harm to you or your loved one?