Spider-Man Miles Morales Blind Accessibility Review: a game that just misses the mark
By Michael Newton & Aidan McCabe
This review will be focusing on the blind accessibility features of the game. For a full list of all accessibility features, read the list below.
Last year was one of the most exciting and positive years for accessibility in video games. The release of The Last of Us Part II (TLU) completely transformed expectations of what a game can provide in terms of accessibility. Alongside TLU, publishers such as EA and Ubisoft have made positive steps to ensure greater accessibility in their games.
Several months after its release came a new Playstation exclusive title offering a variety of accessibility options: Spider-Man Miles Morales. But how playable is the game for blind players? With such a high bar set by The Last of Us, how does the game compare? Well in truth it’s something of a mixed bag. There are some really useful accessibility features similar to those in TLU, such as options to skip puzzles, an option to skip quick time events, an enhanced auto aim, shaders to highlight allies and enemies and even a ‘look at waypoint’ option to point the player towards an objective.
But as positive as many of these features sound they’re often not as sleek as one might like. The biggest culprit of this is the ‘look at waypoint’ feature. The purpose of this is supposed to be to ensure that a player is always moving towards an objective, this helps visually impaired players and those that struggle with motor difficulties Whilst the game points the player towards the objective, it doesn’t take into account the barriers that lie between it and the player. This means there can be a literal wall between you and the objective. A better system would be for sub waypoints that would help guide through doorways and around obstacles.
Elsewhere, one hugely helpful innovation is how the game makes use of the Playstation controller in order to improve accessibility. The Playstation 5 version of the game has taken advantage of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, allowing the player to feel the different environments through the controller, adding a layer of immersion not seen before in games of the past. When swinging from building to building as Spider-Man, you can feel the tension of the web through the controller, it’s extremely satisfying.
One of the great innovations with the Playstation 5, is its inclusion of 3D audio technology. The PS5 version of the game makes use of this this to great effect. When standing on a street, or perched on a roof top, you can clearly make out the different sounds of the world around you. In many ways, you feel like you’re actually there. Whether you’re a blind player or fully sighted, this a great step to improving immersion in video games.
Despite this long list of achievements in accessibility, there are still some glaring omissions that hinder the game’s overall playability, especially for fully blind players. The most obvious of these, is the lack of a screen narrator. This is particularly surprising, as a narrator has become something of a base line for accessibility in games. Often games with screen narrators miss out other, equally important features that enable blind players to play, such as allowing a user to skip quick time events and the ‘look at waypoint’ option. Frustratingly, Spider-Man Miles Morales includes these settings, but misses out on the most fundamentally important option for a totally blind player; a screen narrator.
The lack of sound queues can also cause problems. For example, a player might reach an objective without realising it, as there is no sound indicating their position. The inclusion of a variety of different sound queues to highlight different kinds of objectives would help the game a great deal in terms of blind accessibility.
So, how playable is this game for a blind player? For visually impaired players, though imperfect the list of accessibility features should be enough to get you through to the end of the game. For totally blind players, It’s not hard to imagine how, with a few tweaks, the game would be fully playable. Even in the areas that the game doesn’t quite get right, it’s almost there. As its stands, a blind player will need some assistance to navigate certain parts of the game.
In all, despite lacking some features, the game is an exciting vision into the future of accessibility in gaming.
List of accessibility Features:
Option to skip puzzles
Quick time event auto complete
Options to switch between pressing a button to holding it down for a variety of different interactions
Controller Vibration Accessibility Setting
Vibration Intensity (can choose between 1–10)
Adaptive triggers (on or off)
Camera shake (on or off)
Enhanced auto aim
Web shooter burst (on or off)
Camera follow (on or off)
Swing camera motion (can choose between 1–10)
Icon and prompt size
Emphasis text colour
High visibility spider sense
Look at waypoint
Camera follow (on or off)
High contrast background
Contrast Options toggle
These are just our thoughts. Remember, it’s okay to disagree with us — we can all have our own opinions! Let us know yours below.