Gunnhildr: Guns, Grenades, and Gods: An Accessibility Review

Gunnhildr is, first and foremost, an intriguing concept. It brings guns, grenades, energy shields, and all sorts of future tech into a Norse Mythology setting. It is also what I believe would be classified as a Roguelight, (I often get Roguelights and Roguelikes confused), and that comes with a certain level of approachability too. The game’s early access description states that a run should take something like 45 minutes, which gives you some idea of how long your “Just one more run” will take. But I review games from a blind accessibility standpoint, so let’s see how it stacks up there.

First up, I’m going to say that Gunnhildr isn’t blind playable in its current state. However, it is absolutely one of those games that I think could be. From what I was able to accomplish, I can tell you that movement is pretty simplistic, seeming to consist of only 4 directions. Furthermore, to the delight of blind gamers everywhere, footsteps cease when you’re running into something. Doors make sound as you approach them as well, and that sound is positional. Still, I’ve had some trouble actually going through doors. I believe the door’s sound effect changes position with the physical door itself, meaning that if you were to stand still, the sound effect would still move as the door did. Because of this, I’m left not entirely sure where the actual doorway is. I’ve been able to move through a few rooms with a bit of fiddling, but that uncertainty is definitely a stumbling bloc.

Of course, this game has no UI narration, which was expected, so what I was able to work out mostly came from OCR and experimentation. Given the nature of the game, and the fact that you can collect different weapons with different abilities and attributes, narration would also be a huge help here. Some of the tutorial messages in the first area appear on screen without an audio cue prompting their appearance, so even using OCR I don’t always know when to scan. Messages do not interrupt the gameplay in this game either, which again would be fine if the game supported UI narration.

Speaking of audio cues though, I feel more of them in this game wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Maybe static cues for doors and doorways so we can center them more easily, cues for dropped items so we can find them, and so on. I unfortunately didn’t get far enough to know if dropped items maybe already have a cue like this, but just in case, I figure it’s worth mentioning.

One more thing unrelated to accessibility. The voice acting in Gunnhildr is actually quite decent, and makes me truly believe that, were I able to play the full experience, I would highly enjoy it. All that said, I don’t find myself too disappointed here. For a game not designed to be played by the blind, Gunnhildr definitely does some things right. I’m looking forward to witnessing any changes and improvements made here, as again the game is still in Early Access on Steam. Thanks as always for reading, folks!

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