May 20 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021, an annual holiday designed to raise awareness for persons with disabilities’ ability to access various digital platforms. In the spirit of such an important subject, here are 10 of the best and most accessible video games on the market today.
It’s worth noting that I’ll be composing this piece as a member of the games press who lives with major motor and slight visual impairments, so much of my firsthand experience focuses on those areas. There’s a wide range of possible disabilities, of course. And while it’s nearly impossible to suit the precise needs of every single individual, these 10 games take distinct steps to appeal to as many ability levels as humanly possible.
10. The Last of Us Part II
From text-to-speech to vibration cues and even an on-demand arrow that points players in the precise direction of their next objective, there’s almost no stone unturned in making sure this game can adjust to any type of disability one might have. The game boasts 60 different settings to ensure everyone can easily get enraptured in its emotional story and extremely tight gameplay.
9. Marvel’s Spider-Man
While not quite as industry-defining as the accessibility options for The Last of Us Part II, the suite of toggles available in Insomniac’s Spider-Man series is plenty impressive. There are options for visual vibration cues, large text sizes, and a setting to automatically point the camera in the direction of major waypoints. F
or my personal visual needs, I also really loved the option to skip the graphical tower puzzles as well. While playing Marvel’s Spider-Man, I felt the game knew every assist I, or most others with a disability, might want.
Those not acquainted with gaming accessibility might think making games accessible is all about ensuring they’re easy to beat, but many gamers will recognize Celeste as one of the most challenging splatformers of the past few years.
Perish enough times, and you’ll be offered the option to use an assist mode with toggles to reduce game speed and make your character invincible. In this case, accessibility means having the freedom to make a game as difficult or easy as you choose without pandering to one side of the scale.
7. L.A. Noire
This is one of the oldest games on our list, but given that it's been remastered for recent platforms, it may be worth a second look. When it first released in 2011, L.A. Noire was one of the earliest games to have an auto-drive feature. Fail a specific section of a mission too many times, and you’ll have the opportunity to skip it.
While more precise individual accessibility tools would’ve been nice as opposed to skipping, this game served as a stepping stone for what would come later.
6. Wii Sports
Nintendo has a bit of a mixed reputation in terms of its accessibility initiatives, but there’s no denying Wii Sports was a game-changer for accessibility when it burst onto the scene as a Wii pack-in in 2016.
Motion controls are a deterrent for many people with physical disabilities, but that didn’t stifle the massive number of senior citizens and aged gamers who found a hobby in mini-games like Wii Bowling. Accessibility focuses on opening doors for new gamers, and Wii Sports might be one of the best games ever at accomplishing that goal.
5. World of Warcraft
When it comes to accessibility for the visually impaired, World of Warcraft remains one of the best examples. It has settings for color deficiency, font size, and HUD scaling that make it a pioneer in the space.
Also critical is the wide variety of auditory cues that allow players to know each part of a menu or gameplay sequence they’re interacting with. Some gamers who are legally blind have found ways to play WoW thanks to Blizzard’s focus on accessibility.
This game was made with flexibility as one of its core tenants, so it makes sense Hyperdot would have a wide range of accessibility options.
In addition to colorblind modes and the like, the game also features full support for adaptive input devices like the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It also has control variations for touch, tilt, and eye-tracking too, which leaves lots of room for motor assists. When all you have to do is dodge shapes, there’s a pretty low barrier to entry.
3. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Assassin’s Creed is one of gaming’s most popular franchises, so it’s nice to see its latest entry is fairly accessible too.
The game features variable difficulties, eye-tracking support, a wide range of subtitle options, narrated menus, and colorblind modes. On the physical side, it’s also possible to remap the game’s controls to any situation that works best for you, even when playing with a controller. While the accessibility menus and implementation may not be as elegant as some of the other games on this list, lots of accessibility options exist to tinker with.
Hades is one of 2020’s most critically acclaimed games, and it requires many runs through randomly generated environments.
Luckily, almost anyone can play it thanks to one simple accessibility feature. When God Mode is enabled, players get a slight buff to damage resistance each time they die. As a result, the more one plays the game, the more it becomes tuned to the player's individual difficulty needs. In some ways, this is somewhat similar to Celeste’s assist menu, but it doesn’t offer immediate control over everything. It makes the game easier for those who need it but in a much more refined manner.
PUBG may not seem like the most accessible game on the planet as an online multiplayer battle royale. However, especially when it comes to its PC version, there’s a wide assortment of visual and control mapping options to help persons with disabilities enjoy the action.
When PUBG was at the height of its popularity, it was a favorite of AbleGamers COO Steven Spohn. Customization is a major pillar of accessibility, and PUBG has plenty of it.