Do Game Reviews Actually Matter?

Shovel Night came out last week and every single review or account I’ve read has raved about the game. Still, I have a hard time committing to the purchase. When the whole review space is recommending the game, it should be a no-brainer. I even have enough money to buy it with saved up eShop credits alone, so there is literally no risk. However, since its inception Shovel Night has never looked particularly appealing to me. If a host of near perfect scores have yet to sway me, what will?

Firstly, it is important to recognize that for the sake of this discussion I am specifically talking about using reviews to aid in purchasing decisions. I think reviews as a whole are necessary in the progression of the art form. Nonetheless, I am a college student with a very limited income and a lot of student loans. To me, buying a game is a real investment. If I purchase a game and don’t like it, its a pretty decent loss for me.

So I guess the thing I look for most in a game review is value. Will this game stretch my money and give me a return in time and replayability? If it won’t, will the experience be worth it? Looking back at my recent game purchases, I can see that underlying mindset. With Titanfall I knew I’d be playing a long time for those days when I just feel like mindlessly shooting things. The positive reviews only solidified my decision to buy the game. Mario Kart 8 was a day one purchase because I knew it would be a fun party game for the entirety of Wii U’s life cycle. Transistor is a much smaller experience but an incredible experience nonetheless.

When I think of Shovel Night, I’m not so sure if I’m seeing the longevity. The console space, especially on Wii U, is so saturated with platformers; I’m kind of getting sick of them. And honestly right now, I’m leaning towards buying Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, another platform title. A game with a more interesting art style, a more-developed story, and deeper mechanics for the same price seems like the obvious choice. However, I feel like I owe Shovel Night a try, especially with all the praise its been getting. Admittedly, everything I’m seeing on Shovel Night is inching me closer and closer to downloading it, but it would seem that my heart and mind are made up.

Update: Guacamelee is Xbox One’s free game of the month. Now I have both games and both games are incredible. Look forward to a Shovel Knight review by the end of the week.

Written by Marcus Garrett

Marcus created Top Shelf Gaming to celebrate the awesome things about the video game industry while challenging the areas of the video game community that could be improved. He loves playing guitar and eating tacos, but never at the same time.

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