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Gran Turismo 7: Accessibility Review


Review code provided by PlayStation at no cost to the reviewer.


Racing games have been something I've always liked the idea of being involved in, but have never had the opportunity to fully engage with as a gamer without sight. Even Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft's most recent racing release, doesn't allow for the level of control that I'd personally want to see from a racing game, though I did still get enjoyment out of it in spite of this.

Given the uptake of accessibility on the Sony side of things over the past few years, I was curious what Gran Turismo 7, the latest entry in the storied and long-running franchise might bring to the table.

Let's start where these reviews always do, at the beginning.

First boot

The first thing I noticed was that there was no ambience to indicate what the game was doing, or whether it was still loading. This is not necessarily a must, but I always feel more comfortable knowing that I'm either on a title screen or in a menu of some kind so I know when to start employing Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

Utilising the previously mentioned OCR told me I was apparently in Display settings, but with no menu narration in sight at all as of yet.

I continued through more screens with the only indications of what I was doing being through the menu text and instructions like " "Be sure to focus your eyes on the centre of the frame when moving the slider. Focusing your eyes elsewhere will result in incorrect settings." and "If you can't see the patten at all, decrease the value until you can."

Given the amount of hype I'd seen around the graphical fidelity of the game and other aspects, I had a feeling that accessibility wasn't going to be high on this game's priority list, which was unfortunate given how relatively far the industry has come in recent years.

Even without menu narration, at least from what I had seen so far, menus didn't wrap. While that's not much, as a gamer without sight that can be pretty useful, though I'm also aware that it is a pain point for those playing the game through single switches for instance.

I got stuck in loops in a couple of instances, only being able to brute force my way through via trial and error. All in all, this can be summarised as an inconsistent setup experience that was plagued with a lack of narration and no way to see anything related to accessibility.

After a screen that seemed to be to do with a minigame called music rally, though just letting me preview musical styles for no discernible reason, I was told that "we'll set up basic controls".

Again, with non-wrapping menus but no narration, only through OCR was I able to determine how I steered, accelerated and what levels of driver assist I wanted, all with text that was fairly easy to OCR. When a new tutorial screen appeared, there was a specific sound cue, which was somewhat useful in terms of knowing that there was text I'd need to read.

Speaking of driver assists though, there's an impression that the game only wants you to use them if you're not "good at driving games" as opposed to using them if you need them to play the game at all, as I would in my case and those of so many others.

Picking what I believed to be beginner, I pressed onward and hoped that I would at least be able to get around a track in one form or another.

The tutorial is very much as if someone was trying to walk you through playing one of these games and adjusting options etc for the first time, for example: "Press the Options button while driving to bring up the Pause Menu. Go on, give it a try!"

Getting sighted assistance

I then realised there were a whole range of menus that I didn't even know existed because of lacking narration, including when re-opening the game.

In trying the "music rally" mode, I realised that the assists, though enabled, were not keeping my car aligned to the track in any way, shape or form, thus making the mode unplayable. The music was interesting in terms of how the visuals apparently aligned with the audio gradually moving towards a mono state as the time runs out, but this didn't make it any more playable and was just an interesting aesthetic touch.

After no luck with this minigame-style mode, I thought I'd see if things improved in the larger campaign-style experience.

World Map

When activating the "world map" option, I first had to enter a player name. However, the accessibility issue here wasn't the game's fault, but that of the PS5 operating system itself. Specifically, the keyboard does not narrate when in a game, therefore meaning that you'd either have to have a full keyboard to easily type, or do what I did and get sighted assistance to type it out for you.

After entering a name as a test, I was forced to sit through the credits and an opening movie, both not only without audio description, but unskippable as well.

More menus and scrolling dialogue boxes in the style of an RPG later, I was dropped into a track, but once again, what assists did exist were no help for me, meaning that in order to progress a sighted player had to fully take control and thus left me without any agency or experience to show for my time driving around in what was, admittedly a well-designed soundscape.

Adjusting Audio Options

The final point I want to cover is one that most might notice right off the bat: The music is much louder than you'd expect, with the cars sitting far further back in the mix than you'd anticipate. Even though the DualSense feedback felt decent for a driving game, it certainly wasn't enough for me to control anything and I missed the sense of speed afforded by having your car engine blasting loudly, whilst also indicating when you were automatically breaking as well, for example.

When I went in, again with sighted assistance, to adjust the audio options, I discovered, in a trend that I hadn't seen for many years, that the only options I had for music were "on" and "off", not a slider that would still allow me to hear the curated list of songs at a volume of my choosing. That was, to put it bluntly, the end of my experience with the game, but if any of this does improve with a patch, I will be interested to see how far those changes reach.





Gran Turismo 7 is in 3 words, an abject disappointment. Having seen the industry grow and evolve over the past few years in terms of accessibility, this videogame doesn't feel any different to something that was released 25 years ago in terms of how much accessibility it offers and its limited option set as a gamer without sight.

With all the talk of this game being for the modern era or to make new players into car enthusiasts, I have to unfortunately say that as a gamer without sight, I cannot recommend this game at all. After playing enough of this game to understand that the accessibility would not allow me to achieve anything on my own terms even with Optical Character Recognition, I promptly uninstalled the game and haven't gone back to it since.

Racing games that work with audio as a sole means of gameplay have existed for at least nearly 2 decades now. Accessibility in racing games has only just started to catch up to that, with Forza Horizon 5 being a step in the right direction despite not giving anywhere near the same level of agency that sighted players can gain. However, with this being the PlayStation 5's biggest racing title that I'm aware of, with a racing pedigree to match, it's unfortunate that a rival series, on a rival platform, takes the checkered flag in pretty much every respect, including accessibility.

I can only hope that future Gran Turismo instalments improve not only on their visuals, haptic feedback or other aspects, but their inclusion of gamers who are still commonly left behind with modern releases, including gamers without sight.

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