Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Accessibility Review — Can I Play That?

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Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

Deaf / Hard of HearingBlind / Low VisionMobilityCognitive

There is something for everyone, both in the hilarious game and the vast settings menus, and players will enjoy the ability to customize their experience in Guardians of the Galaxy to (nearly) exactly what they need it to be.

Score

9 out of 10
  • Customizable subtitles
  • Full closed captions
  • Customizable difficulty
  • Skippable QTEs
  • Hint system
  • High-contrast visor mode
  • No remappable controls
  • UI and UI text not scalable.

We haven’t had a whole lot of time to anticipate the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy with it being a fairly recent announcement from Square Enix, but you can bet I have been waiting eagerly since then to see if they took what they’d done with accessibility in Marvel’s Avengers even further. I’m thrilled to see that they did and the result is one of my favorite games of the year.

Because there is just so much GOOD about the game, let’s start off with what could be better. Because from my time with the game so far, there are only three things!

First: The size of the closed captions could be a bit bigger (and adjustable).

Opening cinematic with closed captions. They read: Muted rock music plays. Text is medium sized.

Second: The rare instance of dialogue subtitles at the largest size going beyond the bounds of the screen.

Star-Lord cinematic showing one long line of large subtitle text with both ends of the text cut off due to it being larger than the screen.

Third: The controls are not remappable on consoles. There are, however, toggles for the two instances in which holds are required.

The control scheme menu.

And now we get into the good stuff and there is enough of it to easily make this a top contender for my GOTY.

Captions and Subtitles

This is the first game in recent years to call something “captions” and have that thing actually be proper captions. In most games, the “captions” usually only consist of player or crew noises or what Ubisoft has done with their “sound subtitles” in providing text indicating important world sounds. Captions in GotG are captions like one would find watching TV. They provide context for the story, characters, and world.

Caption text: Something pounds on the wall.
Subtitle text:
Star-Lord: Nervous breathing.
Rocket: Frightened gasps.

In the above image, without the caption text, there would be no context for Star-Lord and Rocket’s reactions. Sure, it may be mirrored in controller vibration but that doesn’t provide context for what’s happening, it just tells players that something is happening. The captions of Guardians of the Galaxy FINALLY give deaf/hoh players equal immersion to that of hearing players, something other games just flat out fail at even with controller vibration or controller haptics.

The subtitles are captions are highly customizable too! For full details, see our menu deep dive, but players can customize everything from how frequently speaker labels appear to letter spacing, both of which are, to the best of my knowledge, a first in games.

There are also the standard fare options like text size and whether you want a background or not (and that background color can be either white text on a black background or black text on a white background.

Difficulty

The difficulty in GotG is even more customizable than the captions, and I find it rather refreshing to be able to tailor precisely the experience I want—I deal high damage, take very low damage, have regular shield regeneration time, and I always win QTEs because I’m bad at them. Players looking for a particularly brutal experience can deal low damage, take very high damage, and have slow shield regen time. It’s all about how you want to experience the game. I can’t even hear the anime avatars crying about artistic vision over all the 80s rock-enhanced fun I’m having!

Vision

I won’t speculate much on visual accessibility because if I’m being honest, it’s the one area of accessibility I’m not as well versed in as I’d like to be. But there are some features that I believe will be of tremendous benefit to players with low vision.

Star-Lord’s Visor

Star-Lord's visor mode toggled on, showing objects and environments highlighted in pink, yellow, and blue.

The visor functions as a high contrast mode, highlighting important objects and structures in pink, yellow, and blue. In addition to the highlights, players can scan the blue and yellow objects to reveal additional information about them. While this isn’t a bespoke “high-contrast mode” as found in The Last of Us Part 2 or Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, it functions quite similarly. The only drawback is that it can’t be toggled on indefinitely.

Auto-Targeting

A combat scene showing a large X reticle illustrating auto-targeting.

Gunfights in GotG are made incredibly accessible by a robust and customizable auto-targeting mechanic. For my playthrough, I have it set so that the moment I aim my guns, the nearest enemy is targeted and doesn’t un-target until they’re dead. There are also times when players will have to shoot destructible surfaces in the game to reveal crevices and passageways. Here, auto-aim continuously retargets object after object until all have been destroyed.

Journal Entries

Journal entry in handwritten text showing the legible text overlay box.

In Peter Quill’s journal, players find a quest log of sorts. While it doesn’t provide specific quest steps, it allows players to revisit what they’ve done, where they’ve been, and get a little insight into the Star-Lord. The journal is stylized, handwritten text but there is a legible text overlay. Unfortunately, this text is a bit small and not resizable.

Cognitive Load

Being cognitively accessible and approachable is, for me, where Guardians of the Galaxy really shines. It’s a linear story as opposed to an open-world which makes the game slightly less daunting for players like me who are easily overwhelmed by freedom and need a little more guidance to keep their brain focused. 

There are a couple of things that really stood out to me that helped tremendously with cognitive accessibility without being blatant “helps” or things players have to toggle on.

Visor mode showing a tip on a scanned object. "Interactive. Pistil. Organs of Seknarf Rose. Pruning recommended for pollinator access."

One is the previously mentioned visor mode. When scanning things, if the object needs players to do something with it to move the story along, the text once scanned subtly nudges players towards what they need to do. 

The other is just the party banter (which is fully subtitled!). Your party members will comment, often sarcastically, on your actions. Often their comments, like the visor hints, nudge you in the right direction. 

Illustrating the actual spoken dialogue text shown in a dialogue choice screen.

The third cognitive win is the actual spoken text showing for dialogue choices. So often, games give you vague choices and leave it to your best guess as to what you think the character will say is actually what you want them to say. Getting this wrong can have huge implications in games where your choices matter. For players who may not be great at intuiting the intended tone and outcome, this text lessens the stress of having to make dialogue choices.

Conclusion

The reason I love both the visor mode and the helpful dialogue so much is that they perfectly illustrate what’s possible with inclusive game design instead of band-aid fixes via options for overly complex gameplay. This cognitive approachability is simply how the game is for everyone, not a special set of settings that will simplify part of the game or make parts skippable. For me, this truly embodies “Gaming for Everyone” more than any other game I’ve played recently.

There is something for everyone, both in the hilarious game and the vast settings menus, and players will enjoy the ability to customize their experience in Guardians of the Galaxy to (nearly) exactly what they need it to be.

For even more GotG accessibility goodness, check out my Twitter thread from launch day.

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Courtney
CravenDirector of Operations and Workshop FacilitatorThey/Them

Founder of CIPT and Director of Operations and Business Development. They/Them courtney@caniplaythat.com

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