How far would you go to protect your family? Dontnod Entertainment asks this question in their newest episodic adventure game, Tell Me Why. The game was released only on Microsoft products, so I’m reviewing the PC version. You play as twins Tyler and Alyson as you go back to your Alaskan hometown to uncover forgotten memories from your family’s past. Tell Me Why keeps you guessing with its complex story and characters, but thankfully it has very straightforward accessibility options.
Tell Me Why plays very much like the publisher’s previous games like Life Is Strange. By that I mean you will move your character from a third-person perspective as you traverse linear environments, collect items, solve puzzles, and make story decisions. You can alternate between playing as both Tyler and Alyson depending on pre-planned story moments in the game. The twins also have a telepathic connection, allowing them to read each other’s thoughts, which can help you solve many of the puzzles you encounter.
The game has a helpful options menu, and it’s here where disabled gamers will find the most relevant accessibility settings for their needs. Gamers with fine-motor impairments will be happy to know button presses can be altered to holds. The button presses are in reference to memory manipulation (another aspect of the twins’ telepathy) where you’re required to tap or hold one button to activate a shared memory. I didn’t experience any QTEs in Tell Me Why. In fact, the entire game has a fairly slow pace with no timed puzzles. Disabled gamers will have plenty of time to make decisions, as this game mainly focuses on the narrative. There’s a camera orienting feature you can activate so that the camera will automatically follow your movements while also reducing motion sickness. Customizable controls are available in the options menu, but certain mouse functions are unable to be changed. Tell Me Why has a Windowed mode that allows disabled gamers to use third party programs (like the on-screen keyboard) without interfering with the game’s performance. Overall, the PC version was well optimized, and I was glad the game lets gamers with fine-motor impairments play the way they need.
Those with visual impairments have a variety of options to choose from in Tell Me Why. There’s a brightness slider you can alter in the options menu and a “High Contrast Background” mode which specifically manipulates the HUD. One option I’m particularly impressed with is “Dyslexia Friendly” mode, which modifies the text for those with learning disabilities. I rarely see this option in games, and I’m glad more developers are offering this feature. I didn’t notice any color distinguishing items, so colorblind players shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Tell Me Why is fully subtitled, and there’s closed captioning available for the hearing impaired. Five different audio languages are offered as well as eight different subtitle languages (many of the subtitle languages were added after the initial release). Both the subtitle font size and game font size can be increased or decreased. You can also modify individual sound levels in the game including music, sound effects, and dialogue.
Tell Me Why tells a story with layered characters and addresses issues involving transgender rights, alcoholism, and abusive families. They took a nuanced approach to their storytelling, and it’s clear they did their research. Thankfully, they also researched ways to make their game as accessible as possible. Having no QTEs helped gamers with fine-motor impairments greatly, and the “Dyslexia Friendly” mode gives those with learning disabilities the tools they need to play the game uninhibited. Tell Me Why is a great example of a game that tells a good story while also being very accessible to disabled gamers.
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