Released toward the end of last week, Resident Evil 4 Remake is a fairly faithful modernisation of what is largely considered one of the greatest video games of its originally released console generation. Blending third person shooting horror, and campy humour, the game marked a distinct turning point for the survival horror series.
The 2023 Remake of Resident Evil 4 does make some changes to the formula established in the original game, and I don’t love every alteration made, but it does remain an enjoyable and slightly silly adventure through a world that is very much full of things willing to murder you.
However, the reason we’re talking about Resident Evil 4 today on Access-Ability is because the game has an interesting approach to accessibility settings that is worth discussing. It has some similarities to the accessibility setting preset system seen in several recent PlayStation first party releases, but with a few important distinctions that set its execution apart.
Upon first boot up of Resident Evil 4 remake, players are offered an initial settings menu, which lets the player alter things like voice language, text language, subtitles, audio output device, and whether the game should prioritise framerate or resolution in gameplay.
Once you’ve set up some basic settings like HDR and brightness, the game lets you know that there is an accessibility tab in the settings menu, and that it contains presets for visual accessibility, auditory accessibility, and motion sickness accessibility. There is unfortunately no preset for motor accessibility, one of the core pillars often offered in these kinds of presets lists. This absence is all the more strange given some of the settings that the game does offer, but we will discuss that in a little bit.
You are not automatically taken to the accessibility menu during setup, or offered the option to select from those accessibility presents right away during this initial setup flow. While it’s not a huge issue, titles like God of War: Ragnarok have shown best practices for offering these options as part of initial setup.
Interestingly, the accessibility settings menu in Resident Evil 4 Remake doesn’t actually contain any accessibility settings options of its own, only the three previously mentioned preset options.
For each preset, the game tells you a list of settings that will automatically be changed if you apply the preset, as well as a list of other settings that you might want to change, and where they can be found in the regular settings menus. Activating an accessibility preset doesn’t walk you through selecting the optional settings described, it just activates the automatically altered settings and leaves you to find and change any others that you would like to yourself.
For Visual Accessibility, the preset automatically changes HUD Opacity to high, changes subtitles to large, and adds a high opacity background behind those subtitles. The optional settings that it suggests players may want to locate include changing the colour of your aiming reticle, changing the colour of your laser sight, and changing the colour of your biosensor scope, as well as altering subtitle colours and speaker name colours.
For the Auditory Accessibility preset, the game automatically switches on subtitles and closed captions, which weren’t offered in that initial setup menu, as well as turning on speaker names. It optionally points players towards a series of granular audio sliders that can be found in the Audio menu.
For the Motion Sickness Accessibility preset, the game automatically turns off camera wobble and motion blur, turns on a persistent centre screen dot, turns off lens distortion, and turns off depth of field effects. It also points players toward optionally adjusting their field of view, maximum camera rotation speed, and camera acceleration.
As a brief side note, while I am super glad to see that Resident Evil 4 Remake is acknowledging motion sickness as an accessibility issue, this does remind me that the Director of Resident Evil Village acknowledged in a Capcom Presentation that Third Person Mode for that game would lessen motion sickness for players, but it was still bundled as part of a paid story DLC rather than offered as part of the game’s Accessibility update, which is something I still find frustrating. But, at least this accessibility menu for motion sickness does seem to suggest they’ve hopefully learned some lessons since then.
In terms of how I feel about this execution of accessibility presets, while I am glad that Capcom is moving in the direction of recognising that presets for various disability categories are beneficial to offer, the execution here is a little clunky. Ideally it’d be great to see developers offer these presets as part of initial setup, the way the “initial settings” menu was offered to players on first boot. It would also be good to see degrees of preset offered, as we saw in God of War: Ragnarok. Resident Evil 4 Remake could have, for example, offered one preset level that turns on the currently automatically changed settings for its specific disability category, and one preset level which automatically changed all of the offered settings, including those listed as optional that the player’s sort of pointed to tweak by themselves.
Additionally, I’m not sure how I feel about the choice not to have any of the actual accessibility settings alterable inside the accessibility settings menu itself. I think I understand the intent, by putting these settings in the standard settings menus more people are likely to make use of them who might not consider themselves needing accessibility support, but I also feel like it wouldn’t be too difficult to mirror the options, allowing them to be changed either in their base menu, or in the accessibility menu as well.
This is particularly notable as several settings that are helpful for disabled gamers are not mentioned at all in the accessibility menu, and have to be found by looking around in those other general menu tabs.
The lack of a Motor Control Accessibility preset feels strange, given that there are a few options offered that are helpful for gamers with motor control disabilities, spread across other settings menus. Repeated button tap sequences can be changed to button holds, aim assist can be turned on, with options to snap to a target when initially aiming or to follow that target once snapped onto if they move, aim assist speed can be altered, reticle deceleration can be increased to make precision targeting easier once the reticle is aimed at an enemy, and the game also offers several other assist settings which are switched on by default, such as auto reload for weapons. Players also have the option of aiming using motion controls, if they find doing so easier than using analogue sticks. These could definitely have been bundled together to offer a motor control preset, and the lack of one feels notable, and a little strange.
In terms of other settings offered by the game, but not signposted in the accessibility settings menu, tutorial messages can be turned off if they’re distracting, the screen filter effect that displays how damaged the player is can be altered in strength, controller speaker audio can be switched off, and other controller functions such as adaptive trigger strength can be altered.
Lastly, Resident Evil 4 Remake does offer a number of difficulty mode options, for those struggling with the level of challenge the game requires.
Overall, Resident Evil 4 Remake’s approach to accessibility does feel like a noticeable step forward for Capcom, with small caveats. I am glad that they’re realising that accessibility presets are an important tool to offer, and seeing the importance of motion sickness accessibility support, but I feel like the addition of a motor control preset, as well as the ability to alter all of the offered accessibility options from within the accessibility settings menu, would have been nice little additions.
Resident Evil 4 Remake isn’t going to blow anyone away with its level of accessibility support when compared directly to the top tier examples in the industry today, but it is offering some important options, and showing growth in the correct direction from Capcom, in a way that is reassuring.
Resident Evil 4 Remake makes an effort to be more accessible than the game it was based on, and to be more accessible than prior Capcom Resident Evil releases, and I feel positive about the future of the series that this title seems to be suggesting.
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