This action adventure game is the latest installment in THQ’s fantasy series. In addition to being incredibly fun, it also should be accessible to a large portion of disabled gamers.
Darksiders II features simplistic game controls and relies on button mashing and magical items to dish out punishment. There is no need to rely on anything other than simple two-button combos, which require holding down a shoulder button while pressing another. Most disabled gamers will be able to do this simply by using both hands on the buttons and leaving the sticks alone. Gamers who only have the use of one hand will not have a problem if they cannot execute these types of combos, because there’s always the option to upgrade the main character, Death’s weapons and armor to pack a bigger punch. And while the game does feature a free-running mechanic, it is so forgiving on both normal and easy difficulties that persistence should be the only adaptation disabled gamers need, since even falling down a bottomless pit does not doom a player to death. Also, even though the game does include a couple of quick time events that require rapid button pressing, they are not moments that are required. They are simply ways to get Death to execute special sequences of moves. Without these, a player should still be able to advance through the game.
The one area that will affect gamers with fine-motor challenges is that some puzzles include a time element. However, from playing through a large portion of the game, it seems clear that with a little bit of planning and some patience, this should not be an issue for gamers with muscle delays.
Gamers with sight disabilities might face a few more challenges, not least of which is that the text is white, which can be blurry if not shown on an HDTV and can be hard to read given that there is no option to increase the font size. On my TV, however, there was no problem. I had no trouble reading the text from about ten feet away. The color scheme can be somewhat muted depending on where you are in the game, but the art style in Darksiders II is so distinct that players do not need to notice the nuances of color because the shapes of major elements are easily distinguishable.
A hearing disability should be no bar to the enjoyment of the game. Let’s face it—Darksiders II is not about the story. It’s about slashing through hordes of enemies. So the little ambient dialogue that is there has no bearing on the game, and all the direct story-driven dialogue has subtitles that are fairly faithful to what is actually being said.
Although it is not perfect, Darksiders II provides a unique balance of challenge and skill that will keep any serious disabled gamer engaged while providing an experience that is accessible for most gamers, regardless of disability.
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Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
ESRB Rating: M