Video Game Accessibility Review: Devil May Cry 5

by Taylor Cross

The brand new Devil May Cry 5 looks like 100% mindless action in the best way possible. The combat is easy to grasp, yet difficult to master since it requires a real understanding of how the controls work alongside some spatial awareness. The soundtrack is the right mix of smooth and laid back and pumped up and ready to go, with some more atmospheric pieces in-between the two. The new look is phenomenal and gives the game a more grounded look than prior games in the main continuity (but still manages to keep their overall cooler and sillier aspects, including the cornball story and the, simply put, just plain awesome moments one associates with the series). There were few moments where I was not entertained by the game, especially with that high energy soundtrack. Particularly DMC5’s soon-to-be iconic main theme ‘Devil Trigger’, an awesome action-oriented piece that thoroughly represents what you, as a player or as someone who is watching another person play, should expect from the game.

To keep the energy going, the game isn’t exactly puzzle-filled, so don’t expect any brain-busters to stump you for a bit. This game wants you to enjoy its stylish action set pieces and it wants you to enjoy them without you tearing your hair out from puzzle solving something that ultimately doesn’t matter to the overall devil may cry experience. So I would recommend it for those who just want to play an action game with no muss or fuss. However, with that said, the game does require a lot of finesse and the ability to react on the harder difficulty settings. So those with mental disabilities who have trouble reacting fairly quickly should take caution and approach the game at their own pace and play at the highest difficulty they’re comfortable with. Especially in regards to one of the playable characters, V, who gets his own summons to use as weapons instead of the series’ traditional ‘Bladed Weapons and Guns’ approach. The game does encourage you to actually try to use finesse, though, since it does determine your end level ranking and how much bonus currency you get to use. So don’t be afraid to learn about the different aspects of each playable character so you can get better.

This is where I’m going to get real advocate-ey for what I’m about to say next (It’s a tangent). Video Games, as a whole, are an amazing way to help those who have trouble reacting quickly to visual stimuli. What I mean is that I’ve noticed my own reaction times as a person on the spectrum in comparison to others with similar disabilities and how I’m generally a lot quicker to react to things. I’m not lightning quick, but the difference is notable. I attribute this to playing a lot of Video Games since I was a kid, and most of the time I don’t play on easy mode. For reference, I did not play Devil May Cry 5 on Human, the game’s easiest difficulty setting. I primarily remember one instance where I played the previous numbered Devil May Cry game some some years ago on the Xbox 360 and a week prior I played the Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden, which is in the same genre of game as Devil May Cry but is known for being the kind of game that would just break you spiritually and emotionally from how hard it is, and that includes requiring some insane reaction speeds to get through bosses and levels. My younger self played that game (Ninja Gaiden, not Devil May Cry) and went through multiple days and nights agonizing over tough-as-nails bosses, learning the finer points about the gameplay, and getting my reaction times down significantly so I could clear a stage. Anyway, while I never beat that game…mostly for reasons not related to difficulty that I can remember, I DO remember playing DMC 4 immediately after it and thinking ‘Wow, this is surprisingly not that hard to beat. My ability to react is just too good for this game.’. It was kind of like I was Quicksilver in that one scene of ‘Days of Future Past’ where the heroes are in the pentagon after freeing Magneto from his prison cell. I was basically running on walls making enemies look really silly before killing them. While I’m not as quick to react as I was ten years ago, I’ve still kept up on maintaining this ability and it’s come in quite handy sometimes. Also, I did not attain my ability to react quickly over night. It took me a long time to get there and I still keep up my skills by playing games at a harder level when possible.

With all that said. DMCV is fun, Enjoy the game for its trippy visuals, its sense of style, its out there story, its devil may care attitude, and its fun characters. I already did, and I didn’t even mention the stuff related to the controls (Which are fine and actually easy to understand, just replace one characters unique gameplay twist with another and it overlays really well since the only things that change are what the circle/A, L2/LB, and R2/RB buttons do. Everything else is relatively similar). In short, treat the game like you want a challenge and you’ll get a rewarding experience, but note that it’s not the only way to play.

Taylor Cross

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.poggione@gmail.com if interested.

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