The cover for the Ubiquitous Fantasy Roleplaying Game, featuring a character in armor, holding a map, staring at a tower that is being constructed. Overhead, there is an eagle flying. In the distance we see hills and trees. A starburst on this cover reads: "Year's Best Card Based 2d100 Tactical Narrative System."

Game of the year?

I’ve reviewed so many other things, and I feel like I’ve been missing a fundamental item in all of this. It’s key to understanding all of my other reviews. Today, I’m going to review the process of reviewing.

I’ve literally been reviewing things from the time I was born. I remember my siblings showing me Land of the Lost, and when I saw the Sleestak for the first time, I said nope. My very first review, and a lot more succinct than I would become once I had a better vocabulary.


I was not given permission to discuss the process of reviewing the review process. I have had many opinions over the years. I have not had the opportunity to see if all of my opinions are correct, although I strongly suspect they are.


Current Human Beings Varies
Popularized Reviews as Entertainment in and of Themselves Siskel and Ebert
The Internet Al Gore
The QWERTY Keyboard Christopher Latham Sholes
Modern Internet Culture Satan, probably

Popular Review Formats

Human beings review things all the time. One of the newest trends popularized by the internet is Extreme Vibes. In this technique, when you see something you like, especially if someone else doesn’t like it, you can classify it as the Best Thing Ever. Literally, it can’t be the Best Thing Ever if anything else is the Best Thing Ever, but this technique doesn’t really hinge on nuance.

There is an additional aspect to Extreme Vibes, and that is The Absolute Worst. The process goes like this:

  • You dislike something
  • Someone else likes it
  • You realize they are wrong
  • You rate it the The Absolute Worst

As with The Best Thing Ever, it is not literally possible to be The Absolute Worst. In addition to the reasons listed for The Best Thing Ever, i.e. if there is another Absolute Worst, there cannot be another Absolute Worst, so previous reviews are immediately invalidated, the Absolute Worst has another reason it remains an imprecise measure. Human beings are extremely talented at coming up with additional things that are worse than the last thing they did.

While this form of review started in the simple format of message board posts and social media responses, it has matured much like more traditional forms of review. In a move reminiscent of the sudden placement of television reviews on every news program in the 1980s, various forms of new media blossom with Extreme Vibes in video format, either in long form, as the most venerable YouTubers work with, or the more succinct micro Extreme Vibes videos that can be seen on Tik Tok.

Shooting Stars

This technique only works within the framework of another review process, specifically sites that allow you to rate a product by using symbols, often stars, but sometimes more esoteric symbols, like cupcakes, circles, or rhombuses. This is an extremely impressionist technique, even when compared to the Extreme Vibes method. The key isn’t that you need to express even your slightest tendencies as extreme antipathy or sympathy.

The real key to the Shooting Stars technique is that you put people in mind of what a review should look like, then you challenge them to engage with the review and it’s connection to the product in question in a process not unlike art appreciation. The product isn’t what’s making you feel something, the review is!

You may want an example of this. Some of the most masterful of these reviews include the following:

  • Rating a product with one star, because you love it, but UPS destroyed the box, leaving you to contemplate if an author should have a star rating that incorporates frustration with a shopping company.
  • Using absolute language while not engaging with either side of a scale that can measure extremes. Examples include a two star rating that cites a product as the worst thing the reviewer has encountered, or a four out of five star review that is “the best.” This leaves you contemplating the nature of extremes, and the connection between objective math and creativity.
  • Writing a review that contains a long anecdote from the reviewer’s personal life, which only near the end tangentially touches on the actual merits of the item in question, or its lack of merits. This is a lesson in understanding that things need to be taken as a whole, rather than in discrete parts.

None of this should be confused with the Transcendent Narrative Review, which utilizes the review space to tell an epic story for which movie rights should be secured. The secret of the Transcendent Narrative Review is that it isn’t actually a review, but a separate artform that uses the review as its form.

Aggressive Aggregating

Probably the easiest genre of reviewing for anyone to get into. This involves logging in to a review aggregation site and clicking on a number. This is technically an advanced version of Extreme Vibes, and some reviewologists, instead of categorizing this as its own type of review, actually consider this Advanced Extreme Vibes.

I would still maintain this is a separate form of review, because in addition to the above, there is an added element of watching the aggregation percentage trending toward the direction you indicated. There is a certain anonymity to this form of reviewing that can really let someone free their inner monster. Because the key is to see the communal percentage go up or down, often reviewers in this genre will multitask by creating multiple logins for the same aggregate site, in order to express their opinions with creative resonance.


Honestly, reviewing is probably a necessary function of human beings. Without being able to express that we really do or don’t like something, reviewologists have posited that our heads would explode. They even point to some medieval tapestries that indicate peasants with exploding heads, watching the king’s favorite puppet show. It’s easy to extrapolate that their ability to provide reviews was impeded. So the big benefit to various review techniques is to keep our heads from exploding.


Long term review work results in an effect similar to the effects that can be observed when living tissue is exposed to cosmic rays. Not the cool cosmic rays that grant superpowers, but the cosmic rays that start to melt flesh. Participating in Extreme Vibes for too long, for example, sometimes allows the reviewer’s head to explode anyway, because their opinion is forming faster than the reviewer can form words. There is also the problem of extreme isolation and listlessness for reviewers that operate in these environments and don’t use a more extreme medium like Extreme Vibes or Aggressive Aggregating, because all of the oxygen tends to be sucked out of the conversation as both extreme ends of the spectrum garner all attention.

Not Recommended–There isn’t much in this product gods forsaken process that convinces me to tell others to pick it up.

This quote doesn’t exist anywhere in the article you are reading. On one hand, that may be kind of confusing, but if you look at it this way, you’re getting new content rather than just seeing part of the article again, but bigger.

Never, ever start reviewing things. It slowly, or not so slowly, eats away at your mental health. I was normal before I started this job. Okay, that’s a lie. I never used to lie before I got this job. I’m lying about that. But it definitely changed me.

Every time you read through a product and see the love and care that went into it, and you recognize the craft employed in its creation, and you see someone say, “it’s junk,” you start to wonder if you were reading text that was only visible to you. Then you start to think, maybe it was only visible to me.

Every time you attempt to make a joke about some form of RPG that no one would ever attempt to create, some actual game arrives on the scene, either spectacularly daring the world to deny it’s genius or astounding you with the audacity to string together a mass of concepts, themes, and procedures in some simulationist echo of Frankenstein’s monster, threatening to hunt down and kill your family if you don’t make the perfect review mate for the game.

I watched SEO glitter in the dark near the Google Search Bar. All those reviews will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to join a new social media platform.

End of Line.

Editor’s Note: Jared, our review gnome, was asked to find a way to write a parody of an RPG without referencing any existing RPG properties or citing any similarities with them. Instead of that article, this was sent to us via a burner e-mail account. Jared has not been seen for the last two weeks, although the authorities believe they have a strong lead to his whereabouts.