Toward the end of last week, Capcom released Resident Evil 8: Village, the newest entry in the long running survival horror shooter series. A direct sequel to Resident Evil 7, Village takes place in a remote mountain community, where a father is trying to track down his infant daughter, who may have been kidnapped by vampires and werewolves.
Much like Resident Evil 7 before it, Resident Evil 8 is a first person game, where players explore, solve puzzles, and shoot vicious monsters, all from the perspective of the main character. A lot of the tension in the experience is built up by knowing that there are things out of sight happening, often telegraphed by the sounds of creatures in the distance, or things being knocked over behind you. Knowing things are nearby, and you may not notice in time, is a big part of how tension is built.
So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to talk about the accessibility settings available, and lacking, in Resident Evil 8. We’re going to talk about some of the expected accessibility settings that are missing, some of the groups of gamers who may struggle to get the most out of this game, and the settings additions which could have helped to make the game more playable for more people.
Let’s start this week’s episode of Access-Ability by talking about the accessibility settings which are present in Resident Evil 8, and are implemented in useful ways.
Resident Evil 8: Village features three default difficulty modes when you first boot up the game, which automatically alter a few in game settings when chosen. While the game doesn’t explicitly tell players what will change based on their difficulty mode selection, it seems that easy mode impacts the movement speed, health, and damage output of enemies, as well as giving the player more plentiful resources as they explore, and a greater degree of autosaves and checkpoints.
One unfortunate aspect of the game is that players cannot change their difficulty mid playthrough, so if you discover a few hours in you’ve made the game too easy, or too difficult, you can’t change that without starting over from scratch.
Players who have difficulty with aiming can activate aim assist, which is an / on off toggle rather than a setting that can be altered in intensity. Players who turn on aim assist will find that when aiming, their gun will usually snap fairly effectively to the torso of enemies, with a stick flick used to move the targeted spot to locations such as the head. This setting makes targeting specific body parts more manageable, but it lacks the customizability of some of the more impressive auto aim settings out there.
For players who may struggle to see a white aiming reticle, Resident Evil 8 does allow players to change their reticle colour.
Players can also independently change the volumes of character voices, background sounds, and sound effects, getting a balance that works better for them.
So, those are the accessibility settings that Resident Evil 8 gets mostly right, with minimal issues. However, the rest of the accessibility settings in the game come with more notable absences or oversights. There are more settings in the game, but they are all somewhat lacking in practice.
For deaf and hard of hearing players, a big barrier to playing Resident Evil 8 is going to be the game’s highly lacking subtitle support, as well as the game’s overall reliance on sound cues.
Village does feature in game subtitles, but they are a single on / off toggle, with zero customisation options. They are small, lack customisable colours, lack speaker tags, and lack a background behind the text. This means that often the text is illegible in certain locations, hard for partially sighted players to make out, fail to inform the player who is speaking in a scene, and are generally tough to glean information from.
If you’re a profoundly deaf player, you’re likely to have difficulty following conversations, and if you’re a partially sighted deaf player, you may struggle to read the subtitles at all.
But, perhaps more importantly, the subtitles that are present are purely spoken text subtitles, rather than full closed captions. Village relies heavily on audio only information not only to build tension, but also to deliver gameplay critical information, and the game does nothing to address this in other ways.
For example, Resident Evil: 8 could have been made more accessible by including text that describes sounds, such as a wooden board clattering to the ground behind you, or a howl being heard off screen, and included on screen arrows or visual indicators as to where the sound came from. Additionally, on PS5, the controller’s fancy rumble could have been used to indicate sound intensity, direction, and distance.
Basically, Resident Evil 8 doesn’t do enough to help deaf players follow conversations, or be aware of audio cues, which is a real shame.
For blind or partially sighted players, Resident Evil 8 is, as expected, a very visually dark game, and as a result it will often be difficult even for players with perfect eyesight to see certain in game elements. This can be mitigated somewhat by cranking up the game’s brightness settings, but even with brightness turned up considerably the game lacks a contrast between game elements that can be hard to distinguish details within. There is very little in the way of visual settings options, outside of brightness, to help make the game more visible for partially sighted and blind players during particularly dark segments.
Additionally, for players like myself who struggle with motion sickness in certain first person games, Resident evil 8 has been a real struggle to play through, and lacks some of the more important settings that could help mitigate that.
Players who struggle with motion sickness can turn off camera wobble, which helps a little, and change the speed of camera movement acceleration, but the game lacks settings such as the ability to increase FOV, or to turn off the bouncing motion of the hands and gun as the player runs, which are both major factors in inducing motion sickness. If you find first person games hit and miss for you in terms of motion sickness, you may well find yourself struggling to play through the game without frequent breaks, like myself.
Overall, Resident Evil 8: Village does have a few accessibility settings in its menus, but those that are there are generally lacking many of the specifics needed to be truly helpful. Subtitles should always be customizable and feature backgrounds and speaker tags, audio only information should be communicated in a second form, difficulty should be changeable mid playthrough, and motion sickness support needs to be more robust.
The modern Resident Evil games are fantastic horror experiences, it’s just a shame that they’re not more accessible to a wider variety of players. Everyone deserves to run away from the tall vampire lady, a confused mix of terrified and horny.