Can we review a game without playing it?

The ripley's

An in-depth look at being able to review a game without playing it

Recently I had a debate whether or not you can review a game without playing it, but by watching a lot of gameplay and looking at how it plays. However can you review a game without playing it? My answer is yes. All games contain clichés and follow similar structures when they are played. Story lines, characters, and gameplay may differ in games, but they all follow similar patterns. I understand a game is all about interactivity, and when you don’t play a game you don’t interact with it, but you can easily look at a game from a gamer’s perspective, look at how it’s played amongst many people and formulate an insightful opinion on it, and from there create a professional review from that. I am going to de-bunk the myth you can’t review a game without playing it.  Let’s take a look at Alien: Isolation:

Alien: Isolation is a first person survival horror that incorporates a lot of stealth elements. The AI reacts beautifully, and for the Alien’s AI it is mostly unpredictable, although it does follow some patterns that you get the hang of quite quickly. The aesthetics to this game are amazing, it truly does justice to the Alien franchise in incorporating that 1980’s retro future look. With all the walls padded and each monitor VHS screen’s you really feel like you’re in the Alien’s universe. The lighting throughout the game is excellent and provides us with a real atmospheric experience throughout the game. More to do with atmosphere the sound effects and music really build constant tension and suspense, and the sound of the Alien’s footsteps along the narrow corridors are terrifying enough to really get your heart racing.

The amount of fan service in this game is staggering. Everything from the aesthetics, to the DLC in this game really is paramount to the fan service this game delivers. Even if you’ve never seen an Alien’s movie or even if you’ve never been a fan of the Alien’s franchise, you really can appreciate what the developers have given us in terms of detail.

Isolation hallways

One thing I love and hate in a game is the ability to see the lower half of the player’s body, which you can in this game. Unfortunately however this game hasn’t done a great job with being able to do this, as when you turn when looking down at your feet they just magically slide everywhere. That being said the player’s in game movement is generally really good. It isn’t often you’ll get stuck on something in this game and the controls aren’t clunky or too slow. There are moments when you just wish to get through a section relatively quickly but the fact the game doesn’t allow you to do this does create great tension.

The average play time for this game is about 15 hours which is great for gamers, but there are some minor downsides to this. Throughout the game you’ll find yourself back tracking a bit, which for most people is boring and a bit laborious, and on top of this because you aren’t encouraged to move quickly through the game this can begin to drag on a bit. Especially if you find yourself dying in one area more than twice.

Overall I really do think this is a great game and would strongly suggest people take a look at it if they are interested in the Alien’s universe or if they simply like FPS survival horrors. Either way this really is a great game.

Does this game follow structures and similar practices to other games? I say it absolutely does, and I’ll tell you why. What game in recent years has gathered a lot of attention and incorporates strong themes of survival horror in an FPS? Amnesia: the dark descent. I’m not going to compare the two but I will say there are a lot of similarities between them that we can all see. This isn’t a bad thing however they’re both great games that I’d strongly recommend playing, but I don’t need to play these games to know what to expect, and to know how these games will play out.

If you’re reading this I have no doubt you’ve played a fair amount of games before and the easiest way to describe a game to a friend is to ask if they’ve played a similar game. The reason for this is because all video games follow codes and conventions to some degree that we can relate to other games. This is the basis of my argument that we can review a game that we haven’t played. I’m not saying all games are similar in some way, or even that they play similar to others. I’m saying we can create a professional review based off of how we see a game is played and what we already know about games codes and conventions. Oh and by the way, did I tell you I’ve never played Alien: Isolation?



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