Since its initial launch, Minecraft has dominated the gaming industry with seemingly infinite player-created mods, a unique and memorable artistic style and an unrivaled exploration system. With 200 million copies sold across varying systems, Minecraft remains one of the most popular games of all time. Now, nearly a decade after its release, Minecraft enters the Dungeon Crawling genre with a surprisingly entertaining and accessible title for physically disabled players on the PC.
Developed by Mojang Studios and Double Eleven, Minecraft Dungeons tasks individuals with defeating the nefarious Arch-Illager and his army. Like Diablo and Torchlight, players journey through beautifully designed levels collecting progressively better loot, defeating swarms of monsters and discovering mini procedurally generated paths along the way. While not as in-depth as Diablo — as character progression is limited to minor weapon and armor upgrades — Minecraft Dungeons is a perfectly suitable title for first-time Dungeon Crawlers.
As for physical accessibility, Minecraft Dungeons offers the capability to fully customize controls, with visual notifications to indicate whether a button is already bound. Aside from the necessity of the ‘Escape’ key to exit the game, every mouse button or key can be changed to your liking. Throughout the first level, I regularly adjusted my keys to find a suitable combination that worked.
Along with customizable controls, Minecraft Dungeons performs surprisingly well with relation to its overall ease of access through the utilization of the mouse. While it is certainly possible to cast abilities, open the inventory or access the map with a corresponding key, all actions can be successfully completed by simply pressing the left or right mouse buttons. Movement, primary attacks, ability casting, checking the map and inventory management are all achieved through the left mouse, while ranged attacks are done through the right button. For someone with limited range of motion, being able to successfully complete all aspects of the game through a single hand is an indescribable feeling, one which I hope future Dungeon Crawlers implement.
Unfortunately, Minecraft Dungeons suffers from the same plague that infects every title within the Dungeon Crawling genre — excessive tapping or holding. Exploration is a key component, as players are encouraged to seek out treasure chests and mini dungeons off the beaten path. As a result, physically disabled individuals are forced to continuously press or hold their designated movement key. To further add to the physical exhaustion, the movement key also corresponds with the primary attack. While this may seem like an accessibility advantage, it forces explorers to ferociously mash the button to defeat the seemingly endless mobs, another trope of this genre. To make matters worse, most of the monsters are defeated within one hit, meaning players must slam their finger on their keyboard or mouse an egregious number of times. This problem can be mildly rectified by playing with friends or utilizing a specific skill which summons a friendly companion, but the barrier persists. Each level took me approximately 45 minutes to complete, not due to discovering every hidden path or object, but rather because I needed time to rest my finger before the next onslaught.
Minecraft Dungeons is a fun, charming Dungeon Crawler that acts as the perfect entry title for newcomers to the established genre. While widely accessible with fully customizable keys and the capability to play with a single hand, physically disabled players will undoubtedly become exhausted after several levels of intense exploration and monster slaying. Despite being entertained for several hours, Minecraft Dungeons is proof that even diamonds aren’t worth fighting for.
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