Having played the game briefly during a visit to Guerrilla Games, the makers of Horizon: Zero Dawn in 2018, I was hooked. Receiving the game as a gift later that year, I played through the main story and even went so far as to earn the platinum at the beginning of 2021 as shown in the linked playlist, all thanks to sighted assistance. I also co-founded the #TranscribingGames project, starting with a series of videos featuring audio described versions of key story beats, with assistance from the community and voiced by Jennissary, a sighted collaborator and great fan of the reboot. In short, this game has been huge for me, even if I needed assistance to get anywhere in it and I look forward to re-running it again before the sequel releases.
After the announcement of this acclaimed game coming to Steam, I was curious to see what a PC version of this game might be like. The stereotypical focus of PC games is apparently on graphical fidelity and cranking your computer to push out the highest frame rates possible, but I'm always interested to see how much extra can be added to these ports of existing titles, including in terms of accessibility.
Let's see how the upgraded version of this title runs outside of the direct PlayStation ecosystem.
Pressing enter to confirm and move to the next screen then hit me with a rather odd sounding version of the Sony Studios logo, after which the standard God Of War intro score played.
From there, I received the following (with the text being taken directly from OCR):
Finally, I was in the main menu, with similarly clean (i.e. easy to OCR) text. Selecting "new game" and "Give Me Story" (just for testing purposes), the opening cutscene loaded pretty much instantaneously, which was no surprise given the game was running on an SSD, but was of course welcome nonetheless.
Given I'd started the game using PC controls, I was curious to see what the tutorial prompts would appear as, hoping they would actually show the inputs as text rather than images.
However, seeing "Press to swing the Leviathan Axe.", I was sorely disappointed, switching to a controller to continue instead.
Though I'd gone into the options before starting the game to see if there were any new features I'd not seen mentioned in the various small accessibility discussions from Sony around this new port that might assist me directly, I unfortunately found nothing. Thus, I was forced to just hope that the game was facing me towards the objectives I needed to navigate to and, as it happens, it actually does this for the first couple of instances.
However, after a long cutscene, you are actually put facing the opposite way to where you'd want to go, meaning that you'd need sighted assistance to reliably find your next location, much like the first time I played this title a few years back. Consequently, I enlisted sighted assistance.
Unfortunately, the review build did have some issues with controller inputs and it turned out that the Titan 2 was not immune to this. Hopefully this is patched as a part of the final build, but it did mean that we had to play on a single controller, something that isn't exactly idea.
Looking through the options together, what I'd seen earlier was correct, in that there were no additional options that would directly allow me to experience more of the game. As much as this was frustrating, I hate to say that it wasn't a surprise. As much as keyboard remapping, reticules and sprinting options will help gamers with a varying range of disabilities, as well as me at times (to prevent repetitive strain injury for instance), they do not allow me to move around independently, know where I am in the menus, tell if attacks are blockable or unblockable or any number of other things that would be useful.
Playing through the introductory section of the game again, one of Kratos' lines hit home with relevance to accessibility: "Do not be sorry, be better." Universally, from an accessibility standpoint, the primary goal is to improve. God Of war's PC port has, in essence, achieved that over the original version, even if it does still exclude gamers without sight.
Moving forward though, the rise in recognition of accessibility as a subject of massive importance definitely leaves the upcoming sequel, God Of War: Ragnarok with a higher bar to reach and surpass when it launches, even if the title doesn't come to PC until much later, in a similar manner to the first entry in this rebooted series.
Accessibility aside, God Of War's PC version is definitely a worthwhile investment if you've never played it. The story draws you in and the combat, fluid but deep, is solid and impactful. Going for 100% completion, though it takes time, was an experience like nothing else I'd been able to undertake in a game before or since due to the close-range nature of the battles and some of the challenges.
While it doesn't offer anything that benefits gamers without sight directly, the PC version of this title is still just as worth playing if you have the sighted assistance to make it happen.
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