Death Stranding Director's Cut Accessibility Review
I didn't have much hope for any tremendous accessibility improvements in Death Stranding Director's Cut because it wasn't really an area of focus in the original. But I'm sad to say that it's one of the most barrier-ridden games I've played in a very long time and because of that, it's not one many will be able to enjoy.
Score5 out of 10
- Text size options for subtitles and some UI text.
- Route plotting ability.
- New suggested routes that show difficulty.
- No controller remapping.
- Extensive trigger holds required.
- Route plotting requires precision and use of multiple buttons.
- New features that could make the game more accessible are progress locked.
Four hours into Death Stranding Director’s Cut, and I have fallen over and lost all my luggage 87 times. And this, dear reader, is where I give up on the game. Originally launched in 2019, Death Stranding by Kojima Productions is a game about package delivery, staying upright, urinating on the ground to grow holographic mushrooms, and carrying around your
creepy pod baby BB. I don’t really know what the game is actually about because, as with the original release, four hours in is as far as I’m going to get and as with any Kojima game, you don’t understand what’s happening until you have reached hour 58.
In our original review that focused solely on Deaf and Hard of Hearing accessibility, it scored fairly well (by 2019 standards). This time though, looking at the game through the lens of all facets of accessibility, the Director’s Cut leaves a lot to be desired.
Full disclosure, I can’t assess the entire game. I can’t assess the new features like the Buddy Bot or the Cargo Catapult because both are progression locked. I can’t progress because, in order to complete any objectives in the early game, players essentially have to keep R2 and L2 held at all times, lest they tip over and lose all their luggage (like I did 87 times). I can’t keep R2 and L2 held continually because it hurts and there is but one game that exists that I like enough to endure pain for and it’s not this one.
So, unfortunately, all I can really tell you is about stuff that existed already in the original game, which hasn’t been improved on whatsoever.
The game features several difficulty options, though Very Easy does nothing to actually make the game more accessible, it lowers combat difficulty. They could eliminate combat entirely and the game would still be nearly unplayable for me because you still have to balance all the time.
There is a setting related to balance but it doesn’t do much to lessen the amount of time you have to keep the triggers held. Auto-aim is great and helpful, being able to toggle off the motion sensor to soothe BB is wonderful, but if you can’t keep both triggers held for extended periods of time, you cannot play Death Stranding.
One more option that helps but only to a mild degree is the text size selection. Choices are “Normal” which is small, and “Large” which I would call normal. How does the large option look?
It’s a nice standard size but is by no means “large.” Subtitles also have no background, so many will likely struggle with contrast. Unfortunately, the text size doesn’t pertain to all in-game text and many parts of the UI remain far too small to read comfortably.
The game isn’t a complete accessibility failure though. Players can still plot their routes on the map which will display a dashed line in the world that they can then follow. But plotting your course requires the ability to hold square and drag the left stick, so again, not something everyone can do.
New in the Director’s Cut are suggested routes, which will show players the difficulty level of traversing a particular route. To utilize these, however, you still must plot the route yourself.
I didn’t have much hope for any tremendous accessibility improvements in Death Stranding Director’s Cut because it wasn’t really an area of focus in the original. But I’m sad to say that it’s one of the most barrier-ridden games I’ve played in a very long time and because of that, it’s not one many will be able to enjoy.
A review copy of Death Stranding Director's Cut was provided by the developer / publisher.