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concrete duck

How the game is received in different countries

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After today getting the email telling me about all the great reviews BA has been getting from such giant sites as IGN and friends, I have been wondering a little if there is some sort of cultural difference in receiving BA.

You see, I haven't yet played my Act I of BA, mainly because I want to play it together with my sister (for childhood memories sake), but nowadays, we do not get to see each other so often, therefore I can't give MY PERSONAL full opinion on Act I yet.

BUT:

I watched the documentary with full interest and after the game came out, obviously got interested if it can live up to the hype (that at the very least I certainly have) build up around it.

And now, I see the american reviews giving the game scores around the 9/10 (IGN) area, 95 (Destructoid), etc...

Scamming through the reviews, it seems that people get pretty happy about the way the game looks and that it has a really well told story, but exactly that makes me wonder, and here's why:

I have -coming from Germay- started reading the GERMAN reviews for the game, and the German press did receive the game quite differently. Let me give you a few examples and help out by trying to translate the main arguments. For the rest, Babelfish should help :) - if need be, I am sure we can also translate a whole review

The main german gaming magazines all said something like the following:

PC Games Review

The PC Games, probably one of the oldest and well established gaming magazines here in Germany, gave it a 76% (obv. out of 100).

Now while that is still "quite well", it is far from "amazing, astonishing". It is, simply said, a "good work, but also lots of room to improve on"

The main reasoning behind this rating, according to PC Games:

- riddles are way to easy (After all, there is no classic point and click interface like SCUMM, so instead of trying up to nine options with one item, you basically only have one way of using an item, which can lead to simply "Trial-and-Error" Routines)

- therefore, length of the game too short

- characters still lack depth. While they are well written, due to the shortness of the game, you never really get close to what they really feel like or what their motivation might be like.

Going on to another german magazine, the gamestar. Not as old as the PC Games, but really going with the more modern way of gaming reviews.

Gamestar Review

The link leads to the "Rating" Section of the test, the rest can be reached through clicking the small link at the top of the page "den kompletten Test lesen".

As you can see, it gives BA another 79/100. Which is also a "well done, but could be way better" score.

The reasoning here is quite the same:

While Graphics, Sounds and Dialogues still get the highest possible numbers, the game (for Gamestar) lacks in character depth, and puzzles ("Rätsel") are just to easy and overall, Act I really falls short of what was expected.

In their video review, they also mention the notion of the game "not being a classic point-and-click adventure at all", because it lacks what they call the main elements of said adventure game: difficult puzzles and a challenge to the player. (This is what they say in minute 5:40 or so of their video review)

This is basically what can be found in most german reviews, I'll just leave a few more to prove I am not talking rubbish and using the only two bad reviews ;)

Adventure Treff Review (82%)

Gamers Global (6/10)

Adventure Corner (79/100)

Now, why do I think this is important, and why do I actually try to get this difference acknowledged?

I think this is important for many reasons:

1) It can help make Act II an even better game, recognized even worldwide. I figure that Double Fine (or better, Tim Schaefer himself ;)) is probably not so much looking for reviews in a language he doesn't speak himself. Therefore the negative points mentionend in German reviews might not appear to Tim as being drastic - since the american/english reviews from IGN and partners seem to completly ignore (or just don't register them as problematic) them. And although I heard some of those points being brought here by fans, I think it makes it still even more important to show that this is not only fan-based critic.

2) I also think it is important to understand that it is quite different what (maybe) different nationalities expect from an adventure. Here in Germany, we have the luxury to have both King Art Games (Book of Unwritten Tales) and Daedalic (Deponia I-III, Whispered World), and those companies still produce great, classical adventures.

Especially Deponia is probably to be mentioned here. Even though I personally am not the biggest Deponia fan (somehow, I couldn't really identify myself with the main characters which made playing the game rather half-cooked for me personally), I have to acknowledge that the game can be compared to BA in several ways, and that especially in terms of the characters there is a lot of development that the main characters go through, even only in one part of the series.

Rufus (the main protagonist) has a really strong character develpoment, and I can see and understand his reasoning behing his actions. I can also relate to most of the sidecharacters, even those that are nearly unimportant! (something that BA, according to the reviews, lacks)

So, it might be that good graphics and an immersive story might be good and somehow enough for the reviewers that we have been told about in the last backer-email, but it also seems that there are other areas that are worth being focused on (especially the puzzles, and I remember Tim talking about them in one episode of the documentary, and being so happy that he promises me the good old fashioned "Gnaaar, I can't find a way to solve this darn puzzle... Now I HAVE to talk to my older sister and hope she is the intelligent one!". Can you believe how that annoyed me as a child? :) - And NOW, I was looking forward to that, to be stuck where my sis might not be, and vice versa. Although, truth be told, when we were younger, she helped me more than the other way round ;) )

I wonder if there are other, different-language and cultural-background-based reviews, and how they might differ from what we know so far.

And I sincerly hope that Tim Schaefer (or someone else of the Double Finers) gets to read this and maybe, just maybe, offers a small statement. Because I am curious :)

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The content of the German reviews actually sounds almost exactly the same as the content of the American reviews, as far as I can tell.

The difference that I *can* see is in the numerical score.

American reviewers tend to use a rating scale of 75 to 95. Percentages between 50 to 75 are reserved for games that are well-meaning but have too many technical flaws. Anything below 50% is nearly impossible and is reserved for games that are, essentially, broken. So if you're a professional game studio that is capable of at least shipping a game that WORKS, you can rest assured that in America you're not gonna get anything lower than a 70-ish at worst. But at the same time, no reviewer wants to throw out a perfect 100 and look like they're taking money under the table or something, so 95% is the most you're gonna get.

It sounds to me like Germany loves Broken Age for all the same reasons, and that they acknowledge the flaws in equal measure as the Americans. But the Americans translate those observations into a higher number than Germany does.

Which all goes to show what we all know in our hearts anyway: numerical ratings are arbitrary and meaningless.

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Although I see your point and am aware that it might be that there is also a difference in how ratings are used (from the raters point of view), I still want to elaborate on a few points you mentioned:

In terms of the numerical score, German reviews are not so far away from what you mentioned. Yes, there are no 100%ers out here, but there are also very seldom scores below 65% or so. While our scale might be a little more sensitive overall, it still fits your description.

But I will agree that German critics, or even more so, the numerical outcome of their reviews, might be a bit more strict when it comes to games where the score is not an "obvious failure" or an "obvious masterpiece".

Anywho, I have only scammed the american reviews and I got the feeling that while they might see the critics I found in the German reviews, they are not taken into account as heavy as they have been over here.

And yes, German reviewers genrally expressed that they liked BA, but all of them sort of expressed that they somehow based their ratings on the hopes that part II will deliver what Part I is missing.

And I really think that, in terms of the difficulty of the puzzles, German reviewers will (and have) taken that more into account than the american ones - and that this is the main reason why German reviews tend to have a lower, numerical rating than American ones.

I cannot tell why that is exactly, if we as Germans tend to want to have hard "knock your head against a wall" puzzles in our adventures games (more than other maybe other people). Or if we tend to not embrace a nicely told story without having to ask all the "why's" and "Where's" of it. Or maybe if we are just a bit "snobish", so to say, because we are (still) used to games like the Deponia series.

Mind me, I am no cultural expert (although I enjoy talking and thinking about the subject), but as far as my observations go, I tend to believe that the German ratings base on the assumption that the most important parts of an adventure game are the puzzles, and only AFTER that comes a very good story, and it might be a little more the other way round in other parts of the globe. This is only my assumption though and I just wanted to make people aware that there are reviews that are not all "glitter and honey" :)

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GameStar thinks it's a better story to sell the public that adventure game design god Tim Schafer isn't so godly anymore. They wrote a critical editorial about Broken Age's budget problem before IIRC. So yeah, in the context of that narrative Broken Age's relatively low score only seems fitting.

I really don't care how harsh the score for Broken Age is specifically, but as a measurement scores should be comparable, so let's see what score GameStar gave some other adventure games: 15 Days got 78%, Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island 79%, Secret Files 3 85%, Jack Keane 88%, Simon the Sorcerer 5 82% and Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle 79%, the same score as Broken Age. Barely played any of those, but as far as I'm aware they don't count as high quality titles in most people's book.

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Part of the reason is what you're comparing it to. Many of the American reviews are celebrating the "return of adventure games". Obviously, if you're going to start with that flawed a premise, you'll end up with a strange result, like some sort of "it's not dead!"-bonus. On the other hand, we have had Adventures over the years, and Broken Age is simply just another one. So it gets a "just another Adventure"-rating, which is the non-skewed way to look at it.

BA is by no means 9.5/10 material. It's got too many flaws for that, and I'm flatly denying anyone who honestly argues different knows much about adventure games or has played them in recent years. The most honest way to describe it is "quite nice", which should translate into 7-8/10. It's enjoyable, but no masterpiece, not the return of Jesus, and not the best thing sliced bread.

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Hm, I think Broken Age's impact on/relevance for the genre is certainly a lot lower than Full Throttle's or Grim Fandango's, but I think it's a better game than both of them (as a story Grim Fandango is hard to beat). Sure, it's flawed, but its flaws don't bother me as much. And it's only half done so far, anyway. ;)

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, so let's see what score GameStar gave some other adventure games: 15 Days got 78%, Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island 79%, Secret Files 3 85%, Jack Keane 88%, Simon the Sorcerer 5 82% and Runaway 2: The Dream of the Turtle 79%, the same score as Broken Age. Barely played any of those, but as far as I'm aware they don't count as high quality titles in most people's book.

Just to add to that, the three Deponia-titles have all received around the 88-91 scores, so it is not just that they don't give adventure Games good scores like, at all :)

Book of unwritten Tales received somewhere about 82-85, Whispered World got an 86.

And I think that there is a lot of truth in the notion that it might not have the added "return of the genre" bonus in Germany. (which I already mentioned)

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IIRC, PC Games gave Full Throttle 73% back in the day. So Broken Age does well in comparison! :D

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Maybe it'd be interesting to compare which Adventures we considered to be better than Broken Age. I'm surprised no one asked me that, already ;) I just realised that's essentially my point -- I can't get behind 9.5/10s, because that means it can't get any better. E.g. from the last three years:

2013: Cognition. The story is great, the graphics and technical side not so much, but that's the thing I can do without the easiest. Took me 20+ hours to play through all four episodes, the highlight is the third.

2012: Memento Mori 2. It's a damn shame that game was released only in Germany because of problems with the publisher, to my knowledge. It's still the graphical benchmark in the genre, had a nice story and quite hard puzzles. It took my nearly 30 hours to get through it, and it was most satisfying feeling I'd felt in a while when the credits came. Plus, the soundtrack. Check out e.g. this.

2011: DSA: The Chains of Satinav. My personal favourite of the last 10 years. The story is everything I love: Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, often melancholic, always touching and the ending bitter-sweet. The puzzles were decent enough, the highlight was a long puzzle-chain in a wonderfully loopy fairy-realm.

And if you go back even further, there's well-known stuff like the The Longest Journey games, and more unknown stuff like The Moment of Silence.

So those is I'd rank above Broken Age (so far -- I realise we're talking about only half a game) on a purely subjective scale, some more, others less. The problem is digging up comparable ratings -- much of it is apparently too "Indy" for many sites. You can compare the DSA adventure though, and the funny thing is that it's like Broken Age, only backwards: 80s to 90s from German/European sites and magazines, whereas Destructoid and Adventure Gamers gave it 65 and 70, respectively (to be fair, RGP-Fan gave it a 90, though -- I could have written that one xD).

I can't, for the life of me, see how that score is possible (and I did play the English version). Maybe we really did start to think of something differing while saying "Adventure" on both sides of the Atlantic, over the years.

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1) Germans are more cultivated adventure gamers. They have higher standards and don't tolerate our mass-market watered-down crap.

2) Germans are ESL types, so they probably didn't get the story too well.

3) You misuse the word "well" a lot. Well is an adverb. It is used as an adjective only to describe physical wellness.

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I don't know whether I'm amused or offended.

"Well done", Mr. Suejak (and not a steak either, since that would be a travesty -- except, perhaps, if you served it with well water?)

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Concrete Duck, You only misused "well" once, in your original post, where you wrote "quite well" referring to a review. Because there is no verb to modify, "quite good" is grammatically correct.

I am very impressed with what you have written - I've studied German for 3 years, Mandarin Chinese for 3 years, and Spanish for 7. I would kill to be able to write as well as you do in a foreign language. If only some other members in this forum were as thoughtful and well-mannered as you.

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Concrete Duck, You only misused "well" once, in your original post, where you wrote "quite well" referring to a review. Because there is no verb to modify, "quite good" is grammatically correct.

I am very impressed with what you have written - I've studied German for 3 years, Mandarin Chinese for 3 years, and Spanish for 7. I would kill to be able to write as well as you do in a foreign language. If only some other members in this forum were as thoughtful and well-mannered as you.

Hey, I get paid to speak foreign languages well and I'd kill for someone to tell me when I made a mistake.

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@nsbane: That wasn't me, that was @concrete duck ;) Thanks for compliments, though.

I have a feeling @suejak doesn't much like compound adjectives, at least without hyphens, but it's probably tangential to the topic at hand.

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@nsbane: That wasn't me, that was @concrete duck ;) Thanks for compliments, though.

I have a feeling @suejak doesn't much like compound adjectives, at least without hyphens, but it's probably tangential to the topic at hand.

Hey, you wanna rumble, bro? "Mass-market watered-down crap" is 100% the write weigh two right that.

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Concrete Duck, You only misused "well" once, in your original post, where you wrote "quite well" referring to a review. Because there is no verb to modify, "quite good" is grammatically correct.

I am very impressed with what you have written - I've studied German for 3 years, Mandarin Chinese for 3 years, and Spanish for 7. I would kill to be able to write as well as you do in a foreign language. If only some other members in this forum were as thoughtful and well-mannered as you.

Hey, I get paid to speak foreign languages well and I'd kill for someone to tell me when I made a mistake.

Suejak, I get paid to Moisenberger well, so I'd kill for someone to Laffenbleim me if I Mackeloffed!

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Hum. Interesting, how we went from "talking about a game we all like" to "let's try and deconstruct a somehow useful post into a discussion about the use of a (foreign) language.

@nsbane:

Thanks for your kind words. As far as my knowledge goes, you have chosen some really hard languages to learn - Chinese I don't know that much of, but German and English are like my daily bread and butter (And a bit of swedish in there as well). I have been living in England for a good year or so, and at that time, tried to teach children German - and to be honest, I now actually understand why people always say my mother tongue is so hard to learn :)

So just keep it up and you will get there eventually.

@suejak:

Yes, I might not be able to speak / write English perfectly. It is not my mother tongue, nor is it the language I can use in regular conversation everyday. In fact, I can barely use it in a spoken way with someone who is a native speaker. I still try my very best and while I am happy about feedback about my English, this is certainly not the place for a post that concentrates entirely on that matter. And I also do know a lot of native speakers that do write worse than I do :)

Anyhow, please get back to the topic at hand. If there is need to discuss the use of my language, please give me a PM, or if there is a general interest in that topic (which I would totally understand), then maybe we can find a better-suited place for it?

I wonder if there are any other language-/country-based reviews that might add to the discussion?

Maybe someone knows some swedish/danish/french/spanish (add your favorite languages/countries here) reviews and give us a little insight on the nature of their ratings?

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