Supermarket Shriek Accessibility
- Visual Characteristics - 6.5
- Accessibility Features - 4
- Difficulty and Assist Modes - 3
- Nonvisual Cues - 7.5
- Text and Interface - 7
- Controls and Depth Perception - 6
Does the thought of going to the grocery store make you want to scream? In that case, how do you feel about goats? It doesn’t really matter what your answers were, anyone who has lived through 2020 will feel a deep connection with Supermarket Shriek. The game puts you inside a shopping cart along with a goat. You and the goat then scream (controlled by your respective trigger buttons) to steer the cart around a variety of hazards that really shouldn’t be in a supermarket… so…. Just like 2020.
Supermarket Shriek releases on the Nintendo Switch on October 23, 2020.
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long.
Visual Characteristics 6.5/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
Visually, Supermarket Shriek looks very clean. There are small assets like boxes and produce lined along the edges of the main paths as a guide, but these generally do not get too cluttered. The lighting is bright and steady most of the time, but can get dark in the overworld, making it somewhat difficult to find levels. However, when you get close to a level, it will light up, making it easier to navigate towards. The contrast may not be high enough for some players, but there are optional costume items that may be helpful. Visually tracking your cart can be difficult at time when there are many moving elements within a level. I would recommend using the costume elements to help with the tracking.
Accessibility Features 4/10
There are some interesting options to talk about in Supermarket Shriek, including a tutorial mode that can be played at any time. The game also includes a slider to move the HUD elements towards the center of the screen. I think this idea is absolutely genius. Many blind/low vision gamers use large monitors or TVs to play games. While these do an excellent job of increasing the size of assets on-screen, it also requires gamers to quickly look from one side of the screen to the other to see HUD elements.
You can see the difference between the two below using the slider on the image to move left and right between the different HUD elements.
This is further complicated for those who deal with eye fatigue when they have to refocus too often. Moving the HUD elements closer to the center of the screen helps with this. Regrettably, you can only slightly adjust the HUD spacing, but it’s certainly a feature I found innovative and I hope to see similar methods implemented in future games..
Aside from that, there are options to control master sound volume, special effects volume, and music volume. To make the accessibility options more robust, I would like to see more contrast and lighting options.
Difficulty and Assist Modes 3/10
Supermarket Shriek starts out at a very low difficulty, making it approachable. The lighthearted, over the top presentation of the game makes it fun to try over and over. The unwieldy controls are part of the game’s charm. That said, the controls are difficult to master, requiring great deals of visual-spatial reasoning and motor planning.
I had to constantly reassess which was my left and which was my right depending on which direction my cart was facing. An option to have bumpers to keep you on the right track would be very helpful. The game is largely built around the steering mechanic using the trigger buttons, but some people might find it simply too cumbersome.
Nonvisual Cues 7.5/10
The audio cues in Supermarket Shriek are really excellent. You can hear the swooshes of falling axes, the scrape of your cart’s wheels, the splashes of water… pretty much any atmospheric sound imaginable. Structurally, you hear a horn to tell you when time begins and an indicator if you’re running low on time. When you pick up certain collectibles, an announcer verbally tells you.
The only thing I would change about the audio cues would be to have an option to keep the human and goat screams at a different, consistent pitch to help remember which direction I’m going. There are some hazards that have excellent sound cues to warn you before you encounter them, but other hazards are completely silent until you run into them, which can be frustrating.
Rumble is not used, but I can think of so many applications for it. Ground switches that you drive over are used frequently, and these seem like obvious candidates for haptic indicators.
Text and Interface 7/10
Supermarket Shriek uses several different fonts, which can be a little jarring. I’m not the biggest fan of the bubble fonts used for certain menus, and I wish they had picked one font and stuck to it. Personally, I find the subtitles quite small, but I won’t count off for it because the game also narrates the text in subtitles.
Menu text is generally large and bold, and you are of course free to use the Switch’s zoom function on menus. Within levels, there is minimal text present, and I didn’t encounter any text that was mandatory for completion of the level.
Controls and Depth Perception 6/10
The control scheme using the trigger buttons to steer is really Supermarket Shriek’s whole schtick. Personally, I found the control scheme to be annoying, but the zany and creative challenges within the levels more than made up for it. The game is done top-down, so depth perception is not too difficult.
However, judging how far your cart will roll after you stop screaming can be very difficult and lead to many deaths. The “driving school” tutorial allows you to practice, which is a good option for those who want to improve.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
I hesitate to give a recommendation for visual skills needed to play the game because I think Supermarket Shriek may be accessible, possibly with some modification, for sightless players because of the excellent audio cues. From a purely visual standpoint, though, I would recommend around 20/600. If you have excellent tracking skills, 20/800 would probably be sufficient.
Overall, I recommend Supermarket Shriek. It’s wacky, it’s obnoxious, and it’s such a great palate cleanser after 2020. While I found the controls more than a little frustrating, I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity and fun vibe that didn’t make me feel disadvantaged by my low vision.
A review copy of Supermarket Shriek was provided by the developer / publisher.