I’m going to try and stay as serious as I can possibly manage for this blog post, because it’s about something that’s been genuinely interesting: releasing an unusual game and seeing how people react to it. I hope you all find it at least a little thought provoking.
Before we get started I have to clear up that I am in no way talking down about those people who make funky little pixel platformers, neon shooters, or kooky art style first person person puzzlers. There are countless great games that fall into those categories and definitely a place for those in my games collection. I just didn’t want to make one of those games myself, and I’m very grateful that Chantelle had my back on that choice, as well as throughout all of the trials and tortures that came with doing something different.
The Living Dungeon is a weird game, and it’s clearly different from anything else that’s out there right now, so we really had no idea what to expect. It’s been three weeks since release and we’ve already learned intriguing things. I might even write several blog posts about things we learned, and they would undoubtedly become more and more bizarre and stupid as I examined amusing interpretations of how people saw the lore, how we ended up designing the costumes, and how we ended up cosplaying those before suffering ultimate cosplay defeat when they fell apart on show day. Not today though. Today’s blog post is all about reviews, and I mean all of them, both good and bad.
So how did reviewers respond? Was there a simple objective defining score that came out of this. Of course not! It seems the idea of an “Objective review” is a complete myth. Sure, the game was given positive scores overall and we are really happy it did, but just look at this variation.
This is Xbox 8.5/10
“If you are a fan of the old tabletop games like SpaceHulk and Hero Quest then this is definitely for you”
La Orbita Del Jugon 8.1/10
“Spend class sleepless nights with your friends playing fantasy games with beer in hand!”
Xbox Review site 8/10
“The multiplayer is really fun”
Gamer Guys and Gals 8.3/10
“Highly recommend this game for table top,board game, and multiplayer lovers.”
The Anchor Reviews 8.6/10
“When a game gets going, it can end up being properly entertaining too.”
Mondo Xbox 7.4/10
“Get ready for multiplayer challenges, which are really exciting.”
Shmee.Me No score but in depth very positive review.
“The Living Dungeon is a lot of fun, and a great game to pick up if you love board games.”
“Where The Living Dungeon really shines through is in the game’s local multiplayer.”
Game Spew 7.1/10
“Living Dungeon brings something truly unique to the video-game genre.”
Xbox Tavern 7/10
“Home to some truly solid strategic gameplay that will appeal to a specific crowd.”
Xbox One UK 6.8/10
“A fun game that’s much better played with friends.”
Pure Xbox 5/10
“The Living Dungeon is actually quite an interesting board game.”
Brash Games 5/10
“It becomes much more fun with a couple of friends playing.”
Thankfully there are a few common criticisms which we can act upon. The first and most obvious of these is the lack of online multiplayer. We’re working on that. Other minor issues included some of the sound quality being poor, which is fair, and also the story being disjointed in places, which again is something we can fix. Those are good points but how much you care about those issues doesn’t account for the huge range of scores. So we had to look a bit deeper.
The first thing we noticed was a general trend. Reviewers who gave high scores played the game more and seemed unbothered by the minor issues like voice quality, whereas reviewers who gave lower scores seemed to not play the game as much and probably because of that, wrote reviews that were full of errors e.g. saying you can’t skip the cutscenes, or that when you die in multiplayer you are knocked out of the game. Neither of these things are true. One reviewer was even so disinterested in actually playing the game that they didn’t even mention the main feature of the game (the multiplayer) until I contacted them afterwards. They then added one paragraph saying multiplayer was good (and making another couple of factual errors) but they didn’t change the score so it pretty much looks like the changes they made were to cover themselves.
That might sound horrendous to some people, and to others there might be the simple thought of “Why should they play the game if they find it uninteresting?”. I couldn’t tell you the answer to that question. You could also perhaps argue that they should not be reviewing something that is a genre they have no interest in, but the counter to that is their audience and should review games in a way that reflects their audiences tastes. So in reflection, of course we are happy with reviews overall since we knew this was a niche game, but I thought the huge range was something that other people might find interesting and may want to discuss.
We’ll be back soon when we will be teaching everybody one of the very many ways to skin a cat, and by cat I mean banana because we don’t make violins. Bye for now.