Someone Else will have to Guard the Galaxy: A Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Hello and welcome to my accessibility review of Guardians of the Galaxy, game code provided by Idos Montreal. Guardians of the Galaxy is, first and foremost, not playable by the totally blind. This is something I’ve often said about games, but with Guardians, it carries a different sort of weight. You see, for the first time ever, I among several other accessibility consultants am listed in the credits of this game. This, however, is related to a round-table discussion I had about accessibility with Square, not any actual consultancy work I did for them. I am sorry to disappoint. Nevertheless, I feel that the inclusion of those Square even worked with in passing in the credits of a game is still a pretty decent step forward, which is why I’m taking the time to clarify all this. Anyway, let’s talk about the game.

I’m going to keep things pretty simple. While there are definitely accessibility features for other disability types, subtitle backgrounds and size, the ability to auto-win quicktime events and so on, there isn’t really anything for the blind. No narration of any kind, no navigational assistance… There did seem to be some sort of lock-on mechanic, but I never got to experiment with that as I could not reach combat.

The game does feature a difficulty setting made for those who wish to stick to the story, and that setting does some additional things that could be considered accessibility-related, such as automatically winning “huddles,” a mechanic that can take place mid-combat where you huddle up with your team and try to inspire them. Auto-winning these does take some of the cognitive pressure off, as there’s no need to figure out what to say in order to properly inspire the team. All this is definitely appreciated, and a great way to make this mechanic accessible.

There is also a fairly significant positive in Guardians that I want to bring up, because it really is quite helpful, just not helpful enough. Guardians makes great use of positional audio, especially when it comes to, of all things, character dialog. See, the Guardians of the Galaxy… They talk. They talk a lot. The writing is fantastic, and thus I’ve never found this talk annoying, but that’s not the important bit. When they talk, the audio of what they’re saying comes from where they actually are in relation to you. Because of this, coupled with the frequency of their dialog, I was able to both follow, and find individual guardians while on their spaceship, which is where you are in the beginning of the game. This meant I was even able to find the cockpit of the ship, sit next to my copilot, and begin the first actual mission. I’d say this alone is pretty impressive, given that the game lacks any other kind of navigational assistance. So thanks, Guardians, for being relentless chatterboxes.

Sadly there isn’t much more I can say, as once I reached the mission itself, I was lost. When the other guardians are following you, positional conversations matter a lot less. This game still definitely needs navigational assists, audio cues for jumps, and so on to be fully playable, and I don’t expect to see these things added in a patch. Nonetheless, I had a strangely fun time with the beginning of the game, and I absorbed a decent amount of Guardians dialog during the process. I feel as though this is likely a fine game indeed, and I genuinely wish I got the chance to experience more of it. Sadly, for now, someone else will have to guard the galaxy. Thanks for reading!

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