As you can probably tell from the title of this blog, and other posts on it, I’m very heavily into the accessibility of technology for people with disabilities scene. As I said in my post about visual and kinetic novels, I like to look up accessible gaming news from time to time to see if something new has popped up. I found this piece of news weeks ago, and honestly just have been putting off writing this post due to procrastination, but this is the first thing I’ve found that is even in this vain of game developing, and I thought it was super cool and got really excited for it. So without further delay, here’s a video demo of A Hero’s Call, the first fully accessible RPG for the blind!
Rewatching this demo makes me realize a few things I didn’t before. At first, I thought that they were using a visual novel/choose your own adventure game format for walking around, but it seems like you’re actually walking around with the character! They’re implementing something me and my brother always say would be really easy to implement in a game: just tell you where you’re going/where you are and use sound design so you can hear where you are. This demo uses that really well, and the Windows narrator voice talking when you need to make choices is also something that I’ve always said would be easy to do, but not done in RPGs. I really Like that there’s some sort of beeping in there, probably also for letting you know where you are.
As excited as I am to see this, it isn’t perfect. As far as I can tell there aren’t any visuals in the game, and that’s probably a bit alienating to sighted players. I’ve seen some early coverage of the game say that the screen reader voice is a bit jarring for sighted players as well, so I wonder if they’ll add some sort of turn off feature in there – though a part of me secretly says “We deal with it every day, so you deal with it too if you want to play this”.
The battle system is a classic turn based RPG, and from this demo is seems like it’s very much like old school Final Fantasy. I lost my sight very early in life, so haven’t been able to play those sorts of games for years, so for me an RPG I can play that’s this immersive is amazing. I’m anxiously awaiting its release!
Ingenuity like this is honestly what got me into wanting to learn how to make games as of late. After seeing accessible visual novels, and this, I realize that accessible video games for everyone are so close, if only developers just take the time to research what can be done. The Out of Sight Games team is composed of people just like me: gamers who lost their sight, missed playing games, and did something about it, and we need more people out there who will take the initiative and make accessible gaming a reality, instead of a long lived fantasy. A Hero’s Call is the first in what I hope will be the start of a new movement for accessible gaming for everyone, with games that both sighted and blind gamers can play.