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As Dusk Falls: Accessibility Update Review

Disclaimer

The PS5 copy of the game used for this review was provided by the publisher at no cost to the reviewer.

Introduction

As Dusk Falls is a game I previously covered in a review, as well as a first impressions video. Whilst the original version was fully playable, it was not, I would argue, fully accessible, as elements like audio description were not present to allow for the fleshed out experience on par with that which sighted players were able to go through at the time.

Now, nearing 2 years on from the release of the original version, the brilliant folks at Interior Night have added another system to the list of platforms to play on, as well as crucial accessibility improvements that make this title (which could already be played through without assistance) even more complete.

But what's changed and just how much of a difference does this make as a gamer without sight?

As Dusk Falls Comes To PlayStation 5

You read that right, the platform I illuded to above is Sony's latest console and, you'll be pleased to know that also means DualSense support is present as well, an improvement over the haptics of the original release. More to the point though, alongside this, we are also graced with the addition of audio description.

I knew during my original review that, were it added, this would be a brilliant addition and, using synthetic speech, they've pulled it off. If you're wondering, the PS5 TTS is used and the audio ducking that comes with it actually makes it feel like a mostly authentic AD experience.

Adjusting Audio Automatically

When you first start the game, if you wait a while, you'll get a screen reader prompt for the title screen. If you've not set up narration before, you'll get a prompt asking for you to select whether you want it enabled. Subsequent prompts are also narrated if you pick yes. One such prompt really stood out, as it related to the audio description experience specifically.

To elaborate, the game tells you that in order to get the best experience we recommend changing certain values (it does list the settings and associated values for reference), giving you the option to change those automatically in advance. This saves you having to go through the process of modifying these options yourself, thus streamlining the experience. Of course, should you need to make further changes, this is also a possibility as well after the fact.

Having accepted this aforementioned prompt before I started playing, it was comforting to know that, all being well, I should get the optimal audio setup without having to adjust things on the fly as I had to in my original review.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer was something I'd wanted to cover during my original review but hadn't been able to. Thanks to May, the lead designer at Interior Night, not only did I get to test it out with the PS5 build, but we ended up doing so on stream and chatting about the experience of working on this new shiny port.

As much as it could've turned into a battle between the two of us to see who could get the most brutal outcome for example, it actually struck us after a while that we could play it as a team, co-operating to try and see what the best choices might be, in part influenced by my memories of a previous playthrough I'd conducted around the time the game launched.

Even though we only got through one chapter on stream, it was still very much a great experience of collaboration. It would be very interesting to see how well the game works with a full team.

Information Parity

Interestingly, we noticed during that stream that though May could see my choices, I couldn't see hers as they were not relayed via narration. Though this didn't cause any issues for us as we were working together and communicating directly, it was definitely worth noting and hopefully that information of when another player picks a choice can also be relayed via narration, though I would think it would only need to trigger on selection of a choice, rather than when highlighting individual options.

What about the Xbox Build

Whilst I can't speak to all the various builds on differing storefronts, I can tell you that the Xbox version does also feature AD. However, it doesn't feature the same consistency in fading as the PS5 build, even if the script is of the same high quality.

However, there's another important caveat that's worth mentioning, even if you can get your audio to balance correctly on Xbox.

The Pace Of Drama

Those who know me will know I'm very much a fan of being able to adjust the rate of speech in games, particularly when it comes to scrolling through menus and getting the information I need. Though the option to adjust narration speed is available on PS5, it did not however seem to be present on the Xbox version. This was true of both the cloud playable version and a standard local install, though I hope this can be added in later.

Also, that audio description prompt from earlier that enables automatic adjusting of values doesn't seem to be able to be re-triggered in either version, particularly relevant as my Xbox save data reloaded from when I played the game previously, before audio description was in the game to begin with. It's always good to be able to recalibrate your options without losing save data, particularly if new accessibility elements are added that could benefit players.

The Game Itself

If you're wondering if the gameplay itself is any different, other than the great accessibility additions highlighted above, as well as any performance boosts encompassed by running on newer hardware, you're receiving the same finely-crafted narrative experience as you'd get previously, just with additional immersion and ability to appreciate it as a result of the aforementioned upgrades. Having played it when it first launched, I'd consider this as arguably the "definitive version" of the experience.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Conclusions

As Dusk Falls was already a strong contender in terms of maturely-themed accessible games for gamers without sight, but the PS5 port and associated update on other platforms bring this title up to where it arguably should've been at launch. The time, dedication and passion put into this new version of the experience is clear and, even though feature parity doesn't seem to be directly present across the board, the fact of the matter is that you get even more immersed in the game wherever you choose to play.

In terms of where you should play, however, I would recommend the PS5 version above all others if you have access to it, as you can control the narration speed, something that can make a dramatic difference to your experience if you're used to faster rates of speech. That coupled with the DualSense haptics and automatic ducking of audio turns this into the movie-like experience I'd envisioned when loading up the game for the first time back in 2022.

Regardless of what you might think though, Interior Night have done a fabulous job and, even though there are a few bugs outstanding, I hope they are able to be patched to tie a bow on the gift that is this game's narrative.

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