VGC’s review policy explained
The objective of VGC’s reviews is to provide honest and insightful critiques of the most significant video game releases of the day. Our reviews are handled by a team with decades of experience critiquing video games, and are included on aggregation platforms such as Metacritic and Open Critic.

We select games to review based on what we believe will interest our readers, either in terms of quality or profile.

VGC’s critics have been reviewing games professionally for years, and their goal is to give you a fair and accurate evaluation of the game they’ve played, so that you can make the most informed decision possible on what you’re going to spend your hard earned money on.

Our reviews evaluate what a developer is trying to achieve with its game, whether it managed to do that well, and crucially, whether we had fun doing it. As a group of critics who play virtually everything, we naturally reward originality and innovation where we find it, too.

How we review games

VGC’s reviewers are assigned based on their experience and knowledge of the specific genre or series that they’re covering. However, this is always balanced with a broader understanding of other platforms, titles and trends within the games industry.

While our reviewers are experienced professionals whom we trust to deliver informed and well-argued assessments, it’s worth emphasizing that their critiques remain the subjective opinion of the author.

Our critics are chosen because they’ve played and understand the vast majority of the games industry’s most significant releases. However, their verdicts are naturally subjective and based on the high standards of a professional critic, as well as their personal preferences.

Every VGC review has a byline at the top of the page, and we encourage you to follow our critics on social media platforms to understand which author closely aligns with your own experiences and tastes.

Reviews are accurate as of the time of a game’s release and we don’t change our reviews post-launch. If a game evolves significantly later on, we’ll address it in follow-up features.

We only review final release versions of games or, if clearly stated, Early Access releases. The platform version of the game we’ve reviewed is stated in the article, along with a note if it was supplied by the developer or publisher.

We trust our writers to decide when they’ve seen enough of a game to review it, but typically, they will have put in many tens of hours and seen the credits roll before writing their verdict.

VGC never discloses its review text to publishers or developers before publication. However, we may sometimes disclose what score their game has received.

Our review score system

Since our launch in May 2019, VGC has used a five-star rating system for video game and hardware reviews.

The five-star system is common across many publications, but there are some important caveats, especially when comparing how a product or movie site handles its reviews, versus the vastly different medium of video games.

Reviewing games is absolutely not a science. As a melting pot of technology and art, while some parts of the video game medium can be assessed granularly – such as a poor frame rate or a feature that doesn’t work as advertised – their themes, characters, music, and visuals will often inspire different emotions and reactions from different players.

So when you see a score on a VGC review, it’s not the result of some mathematical equation, but a personal rating of where the author feels the title should sit within our point scale described below, based on both its quality and how it compares to similar games in the market.

All reviews are subject to a strict editorial process to ensure accuracy and consistency within our review scale, with other VGC editors discussing review text before publication and sometimes suggesting changes. However, they remain the personal judgment of the reviewer and any alterations are only made with their agreement.

We believe that the five-point scale is a good fit for the broad spectrum of opinions video games can elicit. Our reviews are designed entirely for this five-point scale, and we have no control over how scores are sometimes translated by aggregation sites such as Metacritic to different scales.

The score is only a guideline, and it’s important to understand the full context, which is why we encourage everyone to read the actual text of a review before making any conclusions.

You can find a breakdown of the VGC rating scale below:

5 – Outstanding

To achieve VGC’s highest rating, these games have raised the bar for video games or delivered exceptional tentpoles within their genres, with truly exceptional design and memorable gameplay. While no release is flawless, these titles are ones which we can broadly recommend as genuine must-play games for fans of their type. Examples include God of War Ragnarök, Forza Horizon 5, Elden Ring, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

4 – Brilliant

These are games that we greatly enjoyed playing above nearly everything else, making them absolutely worthy of your time and investment, even with some minor setbacks. Not every game is out to push genre boundaries, and that’s absolutely fine. You can be confident that these games will deliver a mostly excellent experience, even if they’re not quite must-plays. Examples include Pikmin 4, Hi-Fi Rush, Dead Space, and Returnal.

3 – Good

A game that’s better than most other titles on the market, with competent mechanics and fun gameplay. They’re worth playing even though they might run out of steam, lack originality, or include ideas that could’ve been better fleshed out or executed. Flawed games usually make for memorable experiences, and a portion of the audience will even love them for it. Examples include Ghostwire Tokyo, Splatoon 3, Wo Long Fallen Dynasty, and South Park: Snow Day.

2 – Below Par

These are games that might offer value to a specific audience, but otherwise don’t execute on their ideas as well as other games within their genre. A game awarded this score might be deemed unoriginal, unambitious, technically compromised, or poor value for money. There’s likely still fun to be had, but you’ll have to work harder for it. Examples include Alone in the Dark, Balan Wonderworld, Scorn, and Marvel’s Avengers.

1 – Avoid

VGC’s lowest score is awarded to games with a combination of little originality, poor execution, technical flaws or tedious design, which overall make them impossible to recommend to anyone. Few games have been awarded this score in VGC’s history, so when we do, you know you probably shouldn’t spend your money on them. Examples include Babylon’s Fall and Bullseye.