I've recently come across this subreddit and have really enjoyed combing through the backlog of posts. One thing I've noticed however is that there are quite a few posts that equate to "I didn't enjoy this universally well-reviewed game. What am I doing wrong?" or worse yet "This well-reviewed game isn't good. This is why everyone else is wrong".
Just scrolling through the last few days, I've seen people mention this about Ghost of Tsushima, Last of Us, Red Dead 2, and even Hades. Needless to say, this is a really common type post on not just this subreddit, but in other gaming, movie, tv, and music subs.
I think the issue is that a lot of people hold up review scores and "general consensus" as if it is some standard that is as objective as scientific fact. So when someone hears that Hades has 97% positive reviews on Steam, and multiple GOTY awards, they think that the game must be objectively good. And if for whatever reason they don't like it, they think that they're in the wrong, or worse, that they're right and everyone else is in the wrong.
I certainly think discussion and critique should absolutely be encouraged, but we can't really have much meaningful discussion can when a critique boils down to "Red Dead Redemption 2 is really slow paced and I don't like that", or "You can't do anything in Flight Simulator but fly around. What's the point?".
In other mediums, especially film, people often complain that professional critics "Can't judge something for what it is", but in reality, critics do a good job at this, while the audience does not. For example, a common sentiment is that people think that the average critic "only cares about high art and not Hollywood blockbusters". But if you look at RT scores for films such as the Avengers franchise, the newer Fast and Furious films, John Wick, you'll notice that even the top end critics will review them favorably. Most of those films have positive scores on RT. This might have been a bit of a tangent, but I think it strikes the heart of the issue:
Good critics meet the product on its level. But many audience members do not.
What I mean by this is that good critics (and hopefully good audience members) review the movie with the context of audience, intent, and genre. That's why a critic like say, Mark Kermode, who's annual top 10 lists feature "high art" films, can still give a generally positive review of a teen adventure movie like the Maze Runner.
A commonly repeated statement on this sub is that "review scores are useless", and while this post is at risk of just repeating that, hopefully I can add a bit more to the conversation. Professional reviews and genuine consensus also needs to be taken with context- there's no such thing as a universal review metric.
For example, IGN gave Fortnite a 9.6, but Assassin's Creed Valhalla an 8. Regardless of your opinion on those two games, it would be foolish to assume that those scores have any meaningful relation to each other.
So the next time you jump into some obscure, niche genre game that has universally positive steam reviews, understand that the reviews and consensus are local to the genre, audience and style.
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