A perfect 10?

This week a new copy of Edge magazine landed on the doorstep. Edge has made its way into my house one way or another every single month since I was about ten years old. Even as a young’n, it would seem, I had good taste. Far less regular than Edge’s monthly appearance of course, is that of an Edge 10. A perfect review score. My favourite instance of this was in issue 66: Christmas 1998. Those lucky enough to have been around then will surely remember the endless, agonising wait for Ocarina of Time.

I was fourteen, and never before had I looked forward to a game – to anything in fact – as much as that. I pored over every screenshot and scrap of information I could find in the months beforehand, which wasn’t easy back in those pre-internet days. Surely it could never live up to the hype? To my ridiculous expectations?

Then Edge arrived. It featured Link, sword-in-hand and poised for action on a gorgeous golden cover. The words “Worth its wait in gold” written just below “Legend of Zelda 64”. I threw open the pages and headed straight for the score; a 10 – only the third the magazine had ever awarded at the time.

I knew right then that the game would be everything I had hoped it would be. And it remains my favourite game to this day.

The relevance of review scores is a hot topic these days (isn’t everything?), but I still think they have a place. Of course, finding an outlet that you know and trust is important. I may not agree with every Edge review, but I always know where they’re coming from, and I understand and respect their reasoning.

I also like Eurogamer, and I admire their brave decision to ditch review scores altogether, but I don’t agree with their solution. Their simple “Avoid” “Recommended” and “Essential” tags have the unfortunate side effect of making any game falling in-between avoid and recommended sounding like they’re not recommended at all, which I know isn’t the intention. I imagine the unbadged no-mans-land between a Eurogamer Avoid and a Recommended covers the scores between 3 and 8 in the old system, but this must put a lot of people off the purchase of games which would have received a 7 or an 8 in the past.

The simple 1-10 scale, and specifically Edge’s full use of it, remains my preferred system. To me, a 10 doesn’t have to mean a game is perfect, it means it is something special. A gamechanger. A landmark title in its genre or one that moves the industry forward.

Elden Ring has bugs and issues and problems and many instances of what gamers refer to as “jank”. The same can be said of most FromSoftware games, but they remain truly unparalleled experiences despite their flaws, and they have changed the industry in the decade since Demon’s Souls first arrived. FromSoftware haven’t made a perfect game, but with Bloodborne, a retrospective one for Dark Souls, and now Elden Ring, they have made three Edge 10’s.

Critic reviews may be having a rough time at the moment, but I still think they have a place. The quality and quantity of games we’re being treated to lately is unprecedented, surely a little help deciding between them isn’t such a bad thing? Similarly, an Edge 10 may not be quite as exciting to me now as it was when I was fourteen, but it’s still a bit of an event, and I can’t wait to find out what the next one will be.

This article is an extract from The Week in Games newsletter.

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