Editor's note: Michael is beginning to show a bit of a knack for dreaming up writing exercises that engage the community. This challenge was all about distilling one's writing down to its essentials. I think it was some famous guy that said, "Brevity is the soul of wit." I wonder who that was…. -James
I'm going to level with you guys: I was a little worried. With one week to go before the entries for The Final Cut were due, I only had two submissions — and one of them was my sample review. I started to think that this time, I had created a challenge that was too difficult or one that wasn't well-suited to the Bitmob community. In a place that grants writers the freedom to express themselves as they see fit, a writing prompt that asks authors to continuously cut their reviews down to meet increasingly more difficult word counts is a hard sell.
Thankfully, my fears were unnecessary. Several of you decided to take part in my writing prompt, and I'm grateful for your support. You came up with some great examples of distilled prose — examples that I'm pleased to share with the Bitmob community.
by Richard Moss
Richard kicks off the challenge with a bang. He chooses a very obscure game for his review. In fact, the game, Ceremony of Innocence, might not even be a game at all in the traditional sense. However, his review is definitely a review, and it gets sharper and clearer with each cut.
For my sample submission, I decide to take a look at BioShock 2, a sequel that many people, myself included, found unnecessary. I'll leave it up to you to determine whether the edits that I made with each pass were necessary or not.
Callum's review of flOw begins just like the game does, with a few too many organisms on the field. As he moves deeper into his edits, the lack of space forces each sentence to become stronger — word repetition gets cut in favor of heightened focus. The result is an efficient creature. It's a single phrase that gets the point of the review across directly and cleanly.
Instead of merely cutting sentences down for length, Chris takes the creative approach to his review of Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. He rewords and combines sentences in a manner keeping with the mash-up nature of Capcom's Versus games. While the result isn't always as razor-sharp a cut as it could be, it's a great example of how to approach this kind of challenge.
What I like best about Cameron's Heavy Rain review is that the final cut — a mere 23 words — sums up one of the most talked-about games of the year. This is proof positive that, with effort, you can say a lot with very little. It makes you wonder why some sites let reviewers ramble for four pages without really saying much of anything.
Personally, I like the second and final cuts of Jeff's Bowser's Inside Story review the best. That's not to say the other cuts are mediocre — far from it. Jeff''s phrasing and use of the space just makes these two, particular cuts stand out as excellent examples of the kind of work I was looking for from you guys.
From voice acting to the scale of the player's avatar in relation to his surroundings, Kevin hits all of the bases with his initial Darksiders review. This final entry of the challenge confirms that while details like these are important to inquiring minds, what's really important in a game review is being able to state whether the game is worth your time or not. Kevin's final cut does just that.
by Daniel Feit
All things considered, Daniel's 100-word review of Borderlands is probably one of my favorite entries in the entire challenge. His honest, no-nonsense approach gets right to the point in describing why we slog through Pandora, fully aware that we're being led by rewards and promises of bigger rewards. I like a good, clear, conversational style, and that's what you'll find here.
by Alex Martin
It seems fitting that we started this challenge with a borderline non-game when we look at Alex Martin's review of Kana: Little Sister, a visual novel that assumes a similar pedigree. Alex may stumble in one or two places in his editing, but the fact that he included a haiku review makes me smile. A good example of reviewing that focuses more on the feeling of playing a game than the base mechanics of the experience.
And there you have it! Thanks to everyone who submitted their work, and thanks to the Bitmob staff for continually supporting community efforts like this. I hope you all gained something worthwhile from the experience. This was a difficult challenge, so I'm going to take a break for a little while until I can come up with a prompt that captures the Bitmob community spirit while still aiding those who seek to improve as writers.