2020 was a banner year for accessibility. We not only saw the release of a new console generation with more baked-in accessibility than ever before, but developers like Insomniac and Naughty Dog used the last year to reaffirm their commitment to accessible design by creating impressively accessible products like Spider-Man Miles Morales and The Last of Us Part II.
In the midst of all this, I felt great pressure to pick my favorite game of 2020, but the reality is I’m not going to pick TLoU2 or any of the other extremely accessible titles. No, my Editor’s Choice is going to be different this year. I’m not giving it to a game I found highly accessible but rather one I found to be worth the struggle. After all, most video games by definition require struggle, or the overcoming of barriers, and DAGERSystem’s purpose is merely to inform players about the types of struggle they will face if they try to play games with impairments. Every once in a while, a game comes along that demands to be played regardless of challenge or barrier.
For me, that game was Ghost of Tsushima. It was disappointing when I couldn’t give it a Barrier Free rating because it’s an excellent game, and even though there are serious barriers to access for many players, once you’re in the world of Tsushima, it’s hard to escape. Ghost of Tsushima was crafted with a level of love and respect for its source material rarely seen in the games industry. It elicits the same feelings I get watching old Kurosawa samurai movies films but does so in a way that’s neither campy or half-baked. The story it tells is profound and haunting without being melodramatic. It was that story that kept me fighting through both hordes of Mongol invaders and the realities of cerebral palsy that often keep me from enjoying a game. The beautiful world of Tsushima provided me with a much-needed place of escape in the midst of physical and emotional challenges that were piled on throughout 2020.
No, I can’t recommend Ghost of Tsushima to most players. Yes, I know there are things Sucker Punch could have improved upon to make the game more accessible, but to me it didn’t matter. The best game is not always the most accessible game. The best game for me is the one that demands to be played, that won’t let you leave it unfinished, and for that reason, I pick Ghost of Tsushima for my 2020 Editor’s Choice.