DAGERS readers who missed it can now get their hands on the 2012 DAGERS Editor’s Choice Award winner for free this month on PlayStation Plus.


XCOM: Enemy Unknown

There was a reason we gave XCOM: Enemy Unknown our first ever Editor’s Choice Award. This is because it’s completely barrier free, and beyond that it puts players on an even plane regardless of any disability. The gameplay is turn based, which eliminates any need for timing and fast reflexes. Players control a squad of up to six soldiers like chess pieces on a board. Each squaddie has a specialty and different strengths that they can play to. For example, players will want to get snipers to high ground so that they can sit on over-watch and pick off targets that move within their line of sight, and heavies will want to be down on the ground in the enemy’s face if they hope to make an impact. These are only two of the four classes that players can build their squad around. This results in a high level of customization.


All of this is good news for any player with a fine motor disability. And when you add in the fact that nothing is communicated by sound alone and that what little story there is has good subtitles, this game is very easily barrier free for players with hearing disabilities as well. I repeatedly come back to this game when looking for something to play. Most of the time, I play with my speakers muted—because the audio adds nothing to the already extremely fun gameplay.


Likewise, gamers with visual impairments should have no problem with this game. Unlike other games in the turn-based strategy genre, color is not used to great effect in this game. While it is true that color is used to differentiate between different zones of movement, these are also labeled using text and symbols, making this game no problem for anyone with colorblindness. Furthermore, because the player can zoom in overhead to an extreme degree, and because the art style is overstated, there is nothing in this game that relies on fine detail, making it barrier free for other gamers with visual disabilities.


XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a great game. It is a completely accessible game. And this month, for PlayStation Plus members, it’s a free game. Why haven’t you downloaded it yet?


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