The critical reception for the latest PlayStation 4 exclusive isn't exactly glowing.
In fact, with a current Metacritic average of only 66, it's arguably the biggest disappointment of the new generation thus far.
But is it really? I've been scanning dozens of reviews and while there are objective points that bother me (the poor pacing, predictable story, overly intrusive QTEs, etc.), I'm noticing a lot more subjectivity than normal. And interestingly enough, that subjectivity speaks to a preference that has changed drastically in the past ten or fifteen years.
It seems the overwhelming majority of critics dock the game for being too short, too easy, and too story-centric. Some reviewers come across as if they can't sit still for more than 30 consecutive seconds without pressing buttons; they act like watching a cut-scene is some agonizing ordeal. Cut-scenes have dwindled greatly in frequency and length and now that we've returned to a game that's heavy on the cut-scenes, it just doesn't go over well. There's no doubt about the decreased attention span in the nation, but that goes well beyond gaming.
As for the too short and too easy part, there was a time in this industry's history when games were way too hard. Do we not remember that? And do we not acknowledge that gaming is now a mainstream hobby and successful titles must cater to a larger audience than ever? "Too short" is highly subjective as well. As I said yesterday, shorter games actually appeal more to me than ever before . My biggest problem with a lot of these reviews is that subjective reasoning seems to be presented as fact.
It is not a universally bad thing that a game is short, nor is it an automatic negative if the game puts a big emphasis on story. Now, if the gameplay feels tacked on and the storyline in question is better suited for another medium (like movies), that's one thing. But just because there's an emphasis on a narrative – something we're absolutely seeing less and less of – that doesn't mean it's "bad." Difficulty is also mostly irrelevant when determining a game's quality.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Had this game released a generation or two ago, I can almost guarantee the scores would be much, much higher. And not because it's "outdated" now; just because it's of a style that obviously, people don't like anymore.
Related Game(s): The Order: 1886