I believe that judging a game for its artistic value is quite different to judging a game for its commercial value. I don’t judge whether it’s fun or not. Replayability is not important. Quantity of content or multiplayer capabilities are not a factor. Neither are the quality of the graphics.
In these reviews, the major factors are the following.
MECHANICS: Does the game introduce never-before seen mechanics? Or interesting twists on existing concepts? This is probably the most important stat, since it’s what game designers have to deal with day by day.
NARRATIVE: Does the game tell the story in an unusual manner? Some games may not be narrative at all (such as abstract games), since that may not be the point of the game. In such cases we still judge the “trip” that the player goes through while playing the game. You may read more about this in my article “Do abstract games have a story?”.
CHARACTER: Also described as personality or identity. You know a Woody Allen film when you see one. Likewise, film franchises keep a certain aura throughout their sagas. Some games are very distinctive from others because of a certain something. Maybe it’s the comedic style, or the world it takes place in. Whatever it is, it makes it stand out from the rest.
STYLE: Games are a great place for artists to experiment with their ideas and create visual landscapes that bring fresh waves of awe and style.
Furthermore, the way we measure the merit of these qualities is quite strict, so it may be hard to find a game that is a perfect 10. However, don’t let this undermine the game itself. If I’m writing about it, it is probably worth playing simply for academical purposes. Additionally, some of the games might actually be very fun to play casually and I do recommend you give them a try yourself, but I will not be judging that.
HORRIBLE: So offensive you’ll want to cut your veins.
TERRIBLE: It’s inconceivable how they let this pass.
BAD: The game is really hurt by this quality.
INSUFFICIENT: The game is not hurt by it, but it needs improvement.
AVERAGE: Nothing new or notable to comment on.
OK: Some new things, but nothing special.
GOOD: New and interesting observations with potential.