Critic Spotlight: Rely On Horror’s Casper Bronmans
We at VGRHQ are always interested in speaking with the industry’s critics, primarily because that’s our #1 goal: To provide recognition to individuals who rarely get it.
Our latest Critic Spotlight centers on Rely on Horror critic Casper Bronmans, who focuses on PC and indie gaming but also has opinions on the industry as a whole. It’s definitely worth a read.
VGRHQ: How do you approach game reviews? And how long do you spend with each review?
Casper: “Well, I always review games that are horror or scary in nature, so I don’t really change my mindset. Usually, I try to go in completely fresh. I just check the options menu and the instructions and that’s it.
How much time I spend with a game depends. If I get absolutely stuck and I think I have enough experience to talk about the game, that’s fine. [Otherwise], I play the entire story mode, see if there are any extras, and then write the review.”
VGRHQ: Do you think a critic should always finish a game before writing a review?
Casper: “It does depend on the game but in most cases, I don’t think you have an excuse to not finish a game. I suppose if it’s really terrible and you just can’t finish it, or don’t want to finish it, that’s a big criticism in and of itself. We usually give certain games to those who are very experienced with that type of game, so they almost always finish the review.”
VGRHQ: How would you view the current state of game reviews? Do you see gamers leveling a lot of skepticism at critics?
Casper: “Yes, you see a lot of criticism today, especially for the big websites. You’re seeing a lot of the bigger personalities get some criticism, too. I’m fonder of the websites that specialize in certain genres, like sites that focus on RPGs, MMOs, etc. I know I can rely on the information from those sites in particular. I do really like sites like Polygon and The Escapist, but I prefer to get my reviews from people who are specialists.
For the big sites, I think there’s a bit of a trust issue. I think there are some backhanded deals going on with some of those [sources], so it’s tough for gamers to trust them. Plus, gamers always want to defend a game they really like, so the critic is open to even more criticism.”
VGRHQ: What do you think of the accepted 10-point scoring scale?
Casper: “The 10-point scale is great for things like Metacritic, so it’s kind of the standard now. Gamers can easily translate the information from those scores.
I think you should use what’s appropriate for your website and your writing style, so I also like the different, more novel, scoring systems (like stars). We use a 10-point scale at Rely on Horror because it fits how we write; it fits our style, and it’s how we want to rate games. But it’s not like we feel forced or compelled to use it. We use it because it makes sense for us.”
VGRHQ: How do you think critics are viewed by the gaming populace right now? Do you think critics are paid off?
Casper: “I see a negative viewpoint a lot because sometimes you find out that certain accusations are actually true. Again, it’s a trust issue. Once controversy is out there involving a critic, nobody will ever believe him again. So there is a problem.
But I feel it’s a bit overstated, though; it seems people think it’s a lot more common than it actually is. I’ve never seen a critic accept a bribe or anything and I’ve never been offered one. I’ve given games a bad score and the developer would contact me and ask me to maybe replay the game at the end of the year, and maybe update the review. But they don’t ask me to redo the review or anything. And that’s fair.
What I receive is very small stuff from special events, and nothing that would sway my opinion in a review. I do believe that if critics get enough extra goodies and the stuff is awesome enough, their opinion might be swayed.”
VGRHQ: Has reviewing games had an impact on your enjoyment of the hobby? If so, has it been positive or negative?
Casper: “Well, i will admit that I play games a lot less nowadays. I have a lot of retro consoles and all I do is keep them clean, because I don’t have time to hook them up anymore. I play maybe three games outside the ones I have to review; I don’t have the time to replay games from my childhood. It’s a lot more about business these days.
I do still like to play games, though. For example, I play Ocarina of Time every year through to 100%, and I still play games for fun. But I’ll still find myself playing games as if I was reviewing it. I’ll check the options and make sure everything is there that I want, and I’ll even find myself taking notes on games I don’t have to review. Just subconscious, I guess.”
VGRHQ: Do you agree with our mission, and do you think game journalists should have an award of some kind?
Casper: “I really like your website and initiative. But I don’t think a lot of critics need recognition; I think a few people really want it, but a lot of us are happy being slightly anonymous. I think they’re fine with that.
If we were to have such a journalism award, I think it would end up going to people at the biggest sites. It seems to me that a lot of writers for smaller websites will be overlooked. My main worry is that big sites will get recognition they already have.”
Here, we pointed out that VGRHQ is intent on finding quality everywhere, and we will always honor anyone, from any site, small or large, if their work is worth honoring.
VGRHQ: Just for fun, are you impressed with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One?
Casper: I’m mostly a PC gamer so I haven’t looked into it too much. But I am kind of disappointed; I’m not feeling compelled to go out and buy a system right now. A lot of the games are either mediocre or they don’t live up to the hype.
Most of the games I find interesting are multiplatform anyway. I do have the Wii U because of games like Hyrule Warriors but other than that, I think it’ll take another year; we’re still waiting for a decent amount of games that everyone would want to play.”
We’d like to thank Casper Bronmans for his time, and we look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
Speaking of which, you should check out an article he did highlighting the best indie games of 2013; he has a great interest in that realm and it shows! Also, don’t forget to check out the fantastic site that is Rely on Horror, as they’re the go-to haunt for horror aficionados everywhere. For more on that, check out our article when Rely on Horror became one of our official Honored Sources.