Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition Mobility Accessibility
Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition enhances the overall accessibility from its original PlayStation 4 launch, but the egregious amount of keys, coupled with an inability to toggle specific actions results in an exhausting adventure that is not worth physically disabled players' time or money.
Score6 out of 10
Complete editions of games usually provide players with previously released expansions, unique cosmetics, or in some cases, an entirely new system or console to play on. Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition brings with it That Frozen Wilds, as well as granting players the opportunity to play the PlayStation exclusive on their computers. For physically disabled individuals unable to effectively hold traditional console controllers, the immense control options are sure to be beneficial. However, for those who rely on the mouse and keyboard, like me, Horizon Zero Dawn is incredibly frustrating to play. With an egregious number of necessary keys, as well as the inability to toggle crucial actions, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition for the PC is one of the most inaccessible computer games I have played in years.
Originally released in 2017, and developed by Guerrilla Games, Horizon Zero Dawn follows the tale of Aloy, an outcast born without a mother, a particularly horrid offense for the game’s matriarchal society. Throughout the story, Aloy must defeat cultists, fight for acceptance amongst tribe members and survive in a post-apocalyptic world where robotic monstrosities now coexist amongst local fauna. As a Hunter, players must properly utilize spears, bows and traps to efficiently eliminate humans and robots alike. Unfortunately, the immense combat tools and navigation techniques result in too many keys for disabled individuals with limited reach.
Unlike the original PlayStation 4 version, the Complete Edition on the PC does offer the capability to customize controls and switch between varying gamepads. Most of the keys can be assigned, except for the mouse scroll wheel and ‘Enter.’ While ‘Enter’ is crucial for opening the menu, players can customize the inputs for varying subsections within the overall main menu function. For example, disabled individuals can rebind ‘Journal’ to an appropriate key and then navigate to differing menus with the mouse. Yet, with approximately 20 necessary actions that players must utilize to properly navigate and survive through the world, finding a corresponding free key to access your inventory becomes meaningless.
This issue even translates into combat scenarios. One of the mechanics that I was unable to bind was the ‘Track’ feature. While hiding in the tall grass, Aloy can track the movements of enemies. This is incredibly useful for stalking Watchers, who will alert hordes of monsters if the player is discovered. While it is possible to simply observe the mechanical beast and its movement patterns, pressing a button to see them displayed on the screen saves time, and allows individuals to plan an assault. Repetitively dying from being caught is beyond aggravating.
In conjunction with the physical exhaustion that comes with needing to press an excessive number of keys, the Complete Edition fails to include options to toggle specific mechanics. Aiming your bow and gathering multiple resources from fallen enemies require disabled individuals to hold the respective key. Encounters which feature numerous enemies left me cramped and exhausted, so much so that I am only able to play for short periods of time.
These examples perfectly encapsulate the Complete Edition’s biggest faults: its ease of access is nothing short of abhorrent. For mouse and keyboard users, it is impossible to enjoy the gorgeous scenery or get encapsulated by the thrilling plot because each navigation or combat scenario muddles the overall experience. Seeing gargantuan metal beasts never filled me with a sense of awe. Rather, I would need to prepare myself physically and mentally for the exhausting confrontation. Pressing upwards of 11 keys for a single takedown is not the gaming experience that I recommend for physically disabled players.
Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition is proof that accessibility is not perfect. While the Complete Edition added several beneficial key features for physically disabled individuals, it’s necessity to utilize each button is detrimental to enjoying a game. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution. However, if you rely on mouse and keyboard controls, I can confidently say that the Complete Edition is not worth your time.