Given that Ghost Of Tsushima, an arguably similar action-focused narrative, had not been accessible, I was curious to see if something on a relatively smaller scale would be fully playable without the need for sighted assistance.
Intrigued to see just how much I could achieve with this game, utilising Optical Character Recognition (OCR) only as a last resort, as is customary at the time of writing in case games lack accessibility even within their menus, let's see what this Samurai cinematic experience offers as a gamer without sight.
After pressing A, the music kicks in with no clear idea of how to proceed. Pressing A again showed brightness, which I left at default, pressing A to confirm.
Pressing A and finally hearing a sound effect, I was presented with a non-wrapping, left-right menu that was DPad navigable, a promising start regardless of the absence of menu/UI narration. I could also not easily check accessibility options myself and resolved to leave that for later as well.
Once the game had begun, with me being unable to select my dificulty level with any degree of confidence (again due to lacking narration), I came across another point of frustration when the first words were spoken.
Unfortunately, OCR did not show any subtitles, even if they were on and, with the game being in Japanese, I had no idea what was going on or who was talking as a result.
Once I was in control, I tried to move around and figure out what buttons served what functions (with the tutorial being inaccessible as it was only conveyed through text), confirming that there are footstep sounds and the weapon audio is solid as well. However, in spite of this, I could not appear to progress at all, thus needing to get sighted assistance hardly a minute in to the game.
After going through these as well as blocking (hold left bumper) and parry (tap left bumper which seems to slow time to achieve the parry but with no clear sound effect to tell you you've succeeded), you are then tasked through dialogue that, again, has no English dub and relies on subtitles, to navigate what then becomes a 3d adventure in comparatively open space (when out of combat).
As much as I enjoyed the combat during the game's opening areas, I noticed two glaring issues with sighted assistance.
Elements such as shrines, which are used to replenish both the player's health and stamina, In addition to ammunition pickups for the Bo-Shuriken that you gain access to later have audio cues when Interacted with. Shrines also have a cue for when they are nearby, which also proved useful even with sighted assistance as they could at times be difficult to see.
On further exploration of the combat system, it turned out that there was indeed an auditory difference when trying to parry incoming sword attacks, specifically that if you blocked an attack the weapons did not ring out metallically, but when you achieve a parry a sustained clang would be heard. This meant that I could, in theory, capitalise on this with counters, though the lack of fluidity in the combat system (likely due to the need to wait for animations to finish) made this difficult to achieve in the way I'd hoped.
During open-world segments, the ambient audio coupled with quality reverb is used to great effect to create the audio component of the game's atmosphere, but can be overbearingly loud in places. However, combined with the great voice acting, this makes for a cinematic experience, which is what the developers had hoped to achieve.
As much as this is the case, I do hope that at the very least elements like the controls could be tightened up to make the combat more fluid, allowing a greater level of precision even when just utilising audio cues.
In time, I hope that games like this can become fully playable without the need to constantly have someone by your side like a sensei.
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