By Taylor Cross
Hrgrsdsdsidflghrltr Resident Evil 2 2019 Is AMAZING!!!!
Okay I got that out of my system … now for the real stuff. As a fan of the Resident Evil series, it does a lot really well. The controls are intuitive, the art direction is amazing, the atmosphere is taut and tense, and the zombies and monsters are everywhere. That last one leads to the first major hurdle I would imagine people would have with the game, disabled or not, but it’s one I have to note. As the early Resident Evil games have stated in their pre-title screen stuff (Including the game this remake is based on) ‘Warning, this game contains explicit scenes of violence and gore’. That warning is APT. This game is very, very gory. If you cannot handle that, then it’s not for you. If you can, though, and are looking for a good horror title, than this game is for you. Other than that, there are a bunch of things you should be mindful of if you’re disabled.
One of the first things I have to say is that this game is a lot more intensive when it comes to strategic thinking than most games of its type, as the name of the game is conserving resources and avoiding enemies whenever you can. You can not kill every enemy in the game (Literally, there’s one dude in the game who’ll only be put down temporarily, after that time period is up, he’s back to stalking you). While puzzles are fairly easy (It’s mostly a matter of themed keys, doors, and reading all the documents you can find), the amount of multitasking you have to do while solving said puzzles is insanely high.
Having that one literally unkillable enemy stalking you when you’re trying to solve a puzzle is incredibly tense and stressful since you have to pay attention to the signs that he’s nearby while solving the puzzle. And that’s not even getting into the idea that killing everything in the beginning of the game will cause you to run out of supplies quick, meaning you won’t have anything at your disposal when the time comes to fight bosses. Hence why avoiding enemies and keeping them alive is important, but it also poses an interesting scenario… Do you kill this enemy now and make this hallway safer for travel? Or do save the ammo for later on down the road and potentially waste a valuable healing item because that enemy got lucky and bit you? It’s quite the challenge, and not one I would recommend to someone with a more severe mental disability. Especially when you add in that one unkillable dude who chases you for a good section of the game. Since he makes it so that you’re not thinking about avoiding enemies, but about running from him.
With that said, note that none of the things I mentioned are truly counted as something negative about the game itself. I’m a firm believer in keeping the experience as pure as possible and that implementations should not be made just because people will miss out on playing the game, some people won’t be able to play it regardless of what changes you make to a game. There’s a difference between playing a game and what the developers intend to provide as a part of the gameplay experience. Like with the gore mentioned earlier. Some people just can’t handle all the bloody bits. To a long time fan like me, however, the brutality present in the game is a huge part of the series’ overall identity and I’m glad to see it make a comeback in recent entries. While it’s a part of the game’s experience, they could’ve easily taken it out and it wouldn’t have affected the core gameplay (Note, this is for the North American version. I’m well aware of the Japanese versions of the game). However, the gore actually is everywhere and is a splatterhound’s dream come true. Which already makes it hard to be accessible to a broader audience because not everybody likes horror. That’s not to say you can’t make the game more accessible to those with disabilities ever, but there needs to be some serious consideration on what to do since making the game more accessible to people with disabilities could accidentally take away from the horror (Thus ruining the experience for everybody. A lot of people with disabilities who would otherwise not play an entry in the resident evil series will say ‘Why does everyone say this series is scary?’ and the regular fans will say ‘This is not Resident Evil because it’s not scary’. Meaning nobody wins). If there’s one thing I recognize, it’s that making a game is one big balancing act, but making a game more accessible to everybody gameplay-wise while still being scary can be done with careful consideration to what experience you want to deliver to players. That will have to take some time. All in all, I will be the first to admit this was a tangent, however, I will stress that there is no better time to talk about potentially compromising the core game-play experience of a game in order to make things more accessible for everyone than with a horror franchise. Since many horror franchises have compromised the scary stuff in order to make the story more accessible to those who are not fans of horror.
All-in-all, other than the intense strategic thinking (Especially on Hardcore mode, the game’s hardest difficulty) and the amount of multitasking you have to do, this game is actually fairly accessible to those with mental disabilities. It’s somewhere in the medium-range. Your baser Cro-Magnon thought process will be dictating that you should run like your life depends on it during certain parts of the game, and that’s actually a big part of the fun.
Special thanks to Capcom for handing me an early copy for review. Also, this review has not been paid for by the above company, the game was given as a sign of good faith. Seriously, I love Resident Evil (RE4 is my favorite game ever) and I really appreciate the gesture.
Taylor Cross is an adult living with Autism Spectrum Disorder who has dedicated his life to helping others with autism be able to experience gaming in any capacity they can. This came about at first because Taylor made a feature length documentary at in 2006 called Normal People Scare Me. The movie was about what it is like to live with autism from an autistic individual’s perspective. Taylor interviewed 20 people with autism an asked about their experiences of living with it as well as telling his own story. Ten years later Taylor and his mom Keri Bowers made another feature length film called Normal People Scared Me Too a follow up of his previous film. Taylor again interviewed the same individuals to see how their life is now that they are adults with autism.
In 2016 Taylor volunteered to help out Able Gamers for PSX 2016. Mark Bartlett recognized Taylor from his past expertise in the disability community and wanted him to assist on cognitive disabilities because they focused at the time on how to assist individuals with physical disabilities. Taylor brought his expertise and went to multiple conferences and conventions like VRLA, GDC, and E3 where he made great contacts and started the process of helping devs with autism accessibility.
When Taylor starts an accessibility review or assessment he looks first at the visual and auditory stimuli in the game because many individuals with autism get over stimulated with high frequency audio, high contrast images, and repetitive flashing sensation on the screen. Hyper-sensitivity is an experience where stimuli whether it is auditory, tactile, or visual is so overwhelming for the autistic individual that it causes physical pain. As a result of the over-stimulation the individual can’t enjoy the game. After Taylor looks at the stimulation issues, he looks at the controls and sees if the controls are going to present an issue with someone who has processing issues or fine motor issues. Taylor then starts assessing button mapping or alternative modes of interfacing with the game because the more ways to play the more ways individuals can interact with the medium.
Taylor believes gaming is great for autistic individuals not only because it is an escape but because it can teach how to interact with people in a party especially if the narrative is well written and has realistic characters. It also can teach individuals with autism how to behave in a group environment whether it is a co-op game, competitive multiplayer game, or a singer player game with a cast of well written characters.
Taylor and his support staff James started a support group for gamers with autism in Southern California. Many times individuals with autism have a hard time relating to other people but when games are introduced it gives them something to talk about and discuss. As a result of people feeling more comfortable, they are more likely to open up and discuss other issues they may have. The next support group meets on the 2nd Friday of the month at Toppers in Ventura. They’ve gone from about 10 people to 40 who participate and people come from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Email James Poggione James.email@example.com if interested.