Arkandias Critique Essay

Whenever you read an essay, use the following questions to guide your response.

First, keep in mind that, although you may not be a writing expert, you are THE reader of this essay and your response is a valid one. I have found that almost every reader, regardless of experience, can identify the primary strength and weakness in an essay, although their method of describing those issues may be different. The author will welcome your response and your ability to explain your reaction in a new way. Although the author is not required to, and really shouldn’t, respond to everything you say, he or she will take your comments seriously and consider how the essays has enlightened or confused you. Therefore, comment freely, although respectfully. Keep in mind that it is better to begin by noting the strengths of the essay before pointing out the areas that need improvement. I would always include a personal response to questions like the following: What about the essay most connects with your experience? Moves you? Provokes you? Entertains you?

So that is how to respond. So how do you critique? For every essay, regardless of the mode, consider the broad categories of content, organization, style, and correctness.

  1. Content: Consider the topic (its appropriateness and interest for the assignment as well as a clear focus suitable to essay length) and the way the topic is developed (clarity sufficiency of its argument, its scope, subcategories, amount and type of examples, anecdotes, evidence, etc.).
  2. Organization: Consider how the essay is introduced and concluded (especially looking for a “frame” to the essay, where the intro and conclusion refer to the same idea), whether the thesis is located in the most helpful place (direct or implied), how the essay is structured, whether the order or extent of development is successful, as well as how individual paragraphs are organized (clear topic sentences, appropriate and concrete evidence, logical organization of evidence).
  3. Style: Style can refer to the overall style of an essay: whether the tone is appropriate (humorous, serious, reflective, satirical, etc.), whether you use sufficient and appropriate variety (factual, analytical, evaluative, reflective), whether you use sufficient creativity. Style can also refer to the style of individual sentences: whether you use a variety of sentences styles and lengths, whether sentences are worded clearly, and whether word choice is interesting and appropriate.
  4. Correctness: Correctness refers to grammar, punctuation, and form of the essay. You do not need to know the exact grammatical term or rule to know when a sentence is not correct. Even though you may not know the term dangling modifier, you could identify that the following sentence is not correct:

    Rolling around in the bottom of the drawer, Tim found the missing earring. [certainly the earring was rolling, not Tim!]

    You could also easily tell that the following sentence actually contains two sentences that need punctuation between them:

    The new manager instituted several new procedures some were impractical. [You need to add punctuation (period) after “procedures” and capitalize “some.”]

    Feel free to mark the essay at the point of the error with a specific recommendation (“run-on sentence”) or a general comment (“this sentence sounds wrong to me”). You can also simply put an “X” by any sentence that seems incorrect. See the back of WR for commonly used Correction Symbols.

Further Directions for Specific Assignments

Below are more detailed questions to consider when responding to individual types of essays. First, make sure that you have reviewed the description of the essay mode in the Essay Assignment Guidelines. Use at least one or two of these when responding to an essay. Do not simply answer yes or no; offer specific evidence from the text and elaborate on the reasons behind your answer.

Personal Essay Critique:

  1. Does the writer have a clear but understated purpose to the essay?
  2. Does it avoid being overly moralistic or heavy-handed?
  3. Does the essay contain suspense or tension that is resolved in some way?
  4. Do you have any suggestions for organizing the essay, such as focusing in on one event rather than many, providing more background, turning explanation into action, etc.?
  5. Does the essay make good use of concrete description, anecdote, and dialogue?
  6. Does the essay help you to feel the emotions rather than just describe the emotions of the author?
  7. Does the essay reveal a significant aspect of the writer’s personality?
  8. Does the writer seem authentic?
  9. Is this a passionate piece? Is it creative?

Critical Review Critique

  1. Does a direct thesis convey both the subject and the reviewer’s value judgment?
  2. Does the review provide a summary or description to help you experience the film, music, event, etc.? Note places where the author provides too much or too little detail.
  3. Does the essay clearly identify relevant criteria for evaluation? Are they appropriate, believable, and consistent?
  4. Are any important features of the reviewed subject omitted?
  5. Logos (logic, content): Does the essay provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details and examples to adequately inform and entertain?
  6. Ethos (author): Does the author’s judgment seem sound and convincing?
  7. Pathos (emotional appeals): Does the author responsibly and effectively utilize emotional appeals to the audience?
  8. Does the author include adequate reference to the opposition and respond to that opposition appropriately?

Information Essay Critique: The questions posed about an informative essay will vary, depending on the purpose and strategy of the essay. The SMGW suggests evaluating for the following issues:

  1. Is topic clearly explained and sufficiently focused?
  2. Does the content fit the audience?
  3. Is it organized effectively?
  4. Are definitions clear?
  5. Are other strategies (classification, comparison/contrast, analysis) used effectively?
  6. Are sources used sufficiently, effectively, and appropriately?

You might also assess the following criteria:

  1. Does the author utilize vivid detail, interesting examples, and lively language?
  2. Does the essay avoid emphasizing judgment over explanation?
  3. Does the essay have a clear focus or implied thesis?

Comparison/Contrast Essay Critique

  1. Is the purpose for a comparison or contrast evident and convincing?
  2. Does the essay identify significant and parallel characteristics for comparison?
  3. Does the author adequately explain, analyze, or reflect on the comparison or contrast?
  4. Does the author provide appropriate transitions words to indicate comparison and contrast?
  5. Is the treatment of each side of the comparison or contrast in balance?
  6. Does the essay provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details?

Feature Article Critique

  1. Does this article interest you? Do you think it will interest the intended audience? Can you suggest ways to increase interest?
  2. Can you tell what the “angle” or implied thesis is? Does the author avoid editorial judgment on the subject while still keeping the purpose clear?
  3. Has the writer done sufficient research? What questions have gone unasked or unanswered? Whose point of view or what information would add further to the completeness of the feature?
  4. Is the subject presented vividly with sensory images, graphic detail, and figurative language? Do you have suggestions of details or images to include?
  5. Does the writer use an appropriate mixture of anecdote, quotation, description, and explanation? Would more or less of one of these improve the essay?
  6. Are the beginning and ending paragraphs interesting and appropriate for the specific audience? Consider the need for a “lead sentence” if intended for a newspaper.

Documented Argument Critique

  1. Is the thesis clear, argumentative, and effective? Why or why not?
  2. Are the topic and thesis are reasonable for the assignment, audience, and context of the essay?
  3. Does the author define his or her terms and provide sufficient background information? What ideas or terms are undefined or inadequately explained?
  4. Is the thesis supported by clear reasons? Are the reasons clearly worded and supported sufficiently?
  5. Do the reasons fit logically together and are they placed in the right order?
  6. Does the author adequately address the opposition? What is another opposing argument he/she should or could have addressed?
  7. Has the author done adequate research?
  8. Are the works cited adequately introduced and explained before citing from them?
  9. Does the paper contain an appropriate blend of well-placed quotations within a context of the author’s own words and paraphrases from other sources?
  10. Is the writer clearly in charge, naturally introducing and interacting with sources rather than merely reporting on them?
  11. Do you find the argument convincing? What might you add or omit?

Business Writing Critique

Memo

  1. Does the memo begin with the most important information?
  2. Does the memo build rapport by involving the reader in opening paragraph?
  3. Does the memo provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details? Is it focused and brief?
  4. Does the memo focus each paragraph on one idea?
  5. Is the memo informed, accurate, demonstrating the author’s grasp of the situation?
  6. Is the final paragraph calling for a specific action? Is it brief? Does it build good will?
  7. Is the memo form correct, with concise subject line, initialed name, correct spacing?
  8. Is the information arranged (indentations and numbering) in a way that makes it easy to skim and still get central information?

Cover letter

  1. Does the first paragraph identify who the author is, briefly state why he/she is writing, and refer to how he/she found out about the job?
  2. Does the second paragraph highlight specific strengths, special abilities, or features of the résumé to be noted?
  3. Does the third paragraph make a specific request of the reader or address what action is to be taken?
  4. Does the letter provide sufficient, relevant, and interesting details to make the request convincing?
  5. Is the letter brief and focused? What elements could be eliminated?
  6. Does the writer achieve his or her purpose? Does it make you want to consider the résumé more carefully?
  7. Is the tone of the letter courteous without being too formal, relaxed without being too familiar?
  8. Is the letter’s form appropriate (heading, spacing, greeting, salutation)? Is the letter addressed to a specific person rather than a general “Dear Madam/Sir”?

Résumé

  1. Does the résumé contain the necessary features for the position (name/address, position desired, education, work experience, achievements, relevant personal information, references)?
  2. Does the résumé contain only essential, relevant information for the position required?
  3. Does the résumé emphasize the applicant’s strengths?
  4. Does the résumé emphasize what is unique about this person’s experience? Does it demonstrate a common interest or ability (leadership, teaching experience, dedication, creativity, etc.)?
  5. What additional information might you like to have about this applicant?
  6. If you were leading an interview based on this résumé, what are two questions you might ask?
  7. Does the résumé look neat (appropriate spacing, clear headings, good quality paper)?
  8. Is the résumé easy to read?
  9. Is the information presented as concisely as possible?
  10. Are the elements of each section of the résumé presented in a parallel format and style (begin w/ active verbs, put date in consistent place, use of parallelism for elements, consistent underlining or italics)?

Terry Brown's development studio, Undefined, may lack definition, but it certainly hasn't been short on different methods for RPG battle systems. Enemies have been mowed down by towers in their Protector series, dungeons have been crawled in Arkandian Legends, and beasties summoned with cards in Cardian. But not until now has the glorious offensive potential of match-3 been mined by them. In Elements of Arkandia, you'll use just that to duel enemies and earn loot. Loot which you'll need to pay down the debt that your dad saddled you with while he goes gallivanting off. Wizard dads do that. Gallivant, I mean.

The game gives you a fairly good tutorial when you start out. In the main area of the game, you'll manage your spellbook and armory, where logically enough you can equip spells and armor. You start out with some basics of each and can find more by adventuring. The shopping section sells upgrades to things like your mana bank and shop space for your own shop. In your shop, you'll sell pieces of armor and reagents that you pick up adventuring and don't need. All of that coin will come in handy because you start the game thirty thousand coins in debt from dear old dad. You'll also be able to make loan payments from this main screen.

But forget all that for a moment. The real reason you're here is to go adventuring! If you've played any match-3 title, and given that you're currently on the internet it's a safe bet you have, you should know the basic drill. Swap adjacent tiles to match three or more, clearing them. In this game, clearing gems can fill your mana pool, your physical attack pool (called rage), or give you coins or loot, depending on the kind of gem. Matching four or five gems in a row grants you some extra life and an extra turn also, so naturally you'll want to do that whenever you can.

You'll use this mana and rage to cast spells and physically attack an enemy. The enemies also will be attacking you every two turns, so it's best to make quick work of them when you can. Each area has several enemies in a row which you must defeat altogether before you can claim your loot and money. The total number of treasure gems affects which item of loot you get, so be sure to check the loot tables by hovering over the chest icon in the adventure selection screen. When you finish an area, you'll return to the main screen where you can examine your loot and decide whether to equip it or sell it.

Analysis: If you approach this game like a puzzle, or if you have a perfectionistic streak and want to try to get a four or higher every time, let me warn you that this game will really, really drag. Since there's no way to save mid-adventure, you could easily find yourself stuck to the computer for a half hour or more if you play that way. It might have been best if the developers had included a timer mechanism to encourage a good pace of play, but pretend that there is one and don't get obsessed with finding the best move every time, or you'll get sick of the game fairly quickly. If you play the game the way it must be meant to be played, with a certain relaxation and a good pace, there's still a ton of game here. There are 24 adventure areas and you can play the different areas multiple times in pursuit of their different special items.

The game dabbles a bit in Recettear-style shop ownership, but it feels more like an afterthought than a serious part of the game. You simply click a button, watch a clock go round, and then get told which of the items you put up for sale got sold and for how much. The game does much better with the match-3/battle hybrid. While it isn't the first game to do this, it's implemented well, and match-3 fans will enjoy the added challenge of considering not only how best to clear gems, but also how to get gems of the desired type. There's also a sprinkling of gentle humor here and there, such as the Corrupted Lumberjack, who sleeps all night and works all day. (Someone explain the reference in the comments.)

The only question now is what Undefined will tackle next now that they've crossed off match-3. I humbly suggest full contact rock paper scissors.

Play Elements of Arkandia

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