Dead Or Alive 6 is the latest installment in the Dead Or Alive franchise by KOEI Tecmo, a series of 3D fighting games. It’s not as popular as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat but it has its own fans. The game was released on March 1st at a ridiculously high price only to be turned into a Free To Play title 2 weeks later with many DLCs for individual characters, costumes, story mode…
You can play solo in the story mode, against a friend or the computer in versus mode, online against random people or train your skills with challenges and tutorials. The fights are fast, scenarios have destructible parts and interactive features. Sounds good?
Well… many features from past titles are absent and the story is not awful but the presentation is very confusing. It’s a fun game if you can play it, and that is the key here, because as you will see accessibility got knocked out in the first round. I’ll comment mostly the accessibility for people with reduced mobility but I will also enumerate other options without going deep into them. I played on PC using mouse and keyboard mainly and these are my conclusions based on that.
In Game Settings there are many options regarding blood, dirt, sweat… The only options related to accessibility are Vibration to turn the controller vibration on/off and Holds that adjusts if you will 3-way or 4-way. In 3-way you hold or block your opponents attacks using a combination of up, down or left plus the hold key/button. In 4-way you must use left or right plus hold for depending on the type of attack (kick or punch). In other words: 3-way is simpler and 4-way more difficult. This choice doesn’t work online where all matches are played using the 4-way mode.
In Controls we have what looks like a gamepad button remapping screen. There are a few presets but you can map what button performs each action which is good. No sensitivity options or anything else. But wait, I was playing with mouse and keyboard so where are my keybinds? There are none. Well, at least we have a list of keys, right? No, not even that. If you are playing with keyboard you are stuck with these keys: W, A, S, D, U, I, O, J, K, L, M, N, Space, Enter and the cursor keys. You can reassign some of those here to whatever function your prefer but good luck remembering what you did because the game shows them as gamepad buttons. This is annoying also when navigating menus because the mouse doesn’t work in this game.
In Language you can turn Subtitles on/off and that’s it.
How to Play
You navigate menus using the four directions and pressing the corresponding button/key for each action. You unlock outfits and other items like music by gaining costume parts and player points to buy them with in-game currency.
The gameplay is simple. Beat your opponent using kicks, punches, throws or special moves. Combos are performed by tapping buttons in a fast but timely pace, adding directional inputs or performing specific motions with your directional control. These motions require fast and precise timing. Sometimes you have to hold down buttons for a short period of time. To block your opponent attacks you press hold plus a direction. Your special meter fills up by hitting you enemy or getting hit. Once it fills up you can use a devastating attack by pressing forward plus the special button or just tapping it 4 times.
Conclusions and issues
The fighting genre is a difficult one for people with mobility related disabilities. I’ve played them since the days of my childhood and as my condition progressed I found the complex motions, multiple key presses and fast pacing more and more difficult to perform. But having said that there are ways to enjoy them still when the necessary options are in place but as I mentioned in the introduction the accessibility in this game is just not there. From a mobility perspective the gamepad controls lack variety, with button remapping and vibration disabling being the only settings. For keyboard users the developer did the absolute minimum, with no options to rebind any key. The fact that all menu interaction and combat tutorials use button prompts and labels is a sign they didn’t care. The only way you can play the game if the default keys aren’t usable for you is to use a third party software utility. It’s 2019, and this is simply unacceptable.
The Photo Mode is also quite odd as the controls for it require holding several buttons at the same time for many functions.
In other aspects the game is confusing, with instructions mixing both buttons and icons to explain gameplay. Sometimes it refers to hold with a H icon and other times it says press A, making it hard to remember simple concepts.
Subtitles are present during introduction and finishing sequences as well as cinematics.
It’s a shame the game has so many issues because once you find ways to bypass them, even partially, it’s a good fighting game. Characters, animation, flashy effects, interactive environments… I enjoy playing it at my level but I reckon it’s probably not worth the effort the player needs to put solving things any decent developer would have considered.
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