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Trek To Yomi: Accessibility Review


The code used in this review was provided by the publisher at no cost to the reviewer.


Trek To Yomi is a game that I'd only heard of in passing. However, on reading into it further, it sounded right up my alley - combat, narrative focus, side-scrolling... all the potential for a fully accessible experience.

Given that Ghost Of Tsushima, an arguably similar action-focused narrative, had not been accessible, I was curious to see if something on a relatively smaller scale would be fully playable without the need for sighted assistance.

Intrigued to see just how much I could achieve with this game, utilising Optical Character Recognition (OCR) only as a last resort, as is customary at the time of writing in case games lack accessibility even within their menus, let's see what this Samurai cinematic experience offers as a gamer without sight.

First boot

Static crackles into being and you're prompted to select a profile via the native Xbox interface.

After pressing A, the music kicks in with no clear idea of how to proceed. Pressing A again showed brightness, which I left at default, pressing A to confirm.

Pressing A and finally hearing a sound effect, I was presented with a non-wrapping, left-right menu that was DPad navigable, a promising start regardless of the absence of menu/UI narration. I could also not easily check accessibility options myself and resolved to leave that for later as well.

Once the game had begun, with me being unable to select my dificulty level with any degree of confidence (again due to lacking narration), I came across another point of frustration when the first words were spoken.

Unfortunately, OCR did not show any subtitles, even if they were on and, with the game being in Japanese, I had no idea what was going on or who was talking as a result.

Once I was in control, I tried to move around and figure out what buttons served what functions (with the tutorial being inaccessible as it was only conveyed through text), confirming that there are footstep sounds and the weapon audio is solid as well. However, in spite of this, I could not appear to progress at all, thus needing to get sighted assistance hardly a minute in to the game.

How does the game work?

Combat is in 2 dimensions, left and right, with the player possessing both light and heavy attacks. Lights can be chained slightly differently depending on whether you hold the left analogue stick up or down or not while performing the 2 button combo of light light (X X on Xbox), with the slower but stronger heavy attacks being bound to Y.

After going through these as well as blocking (hold left bumper) and parry (tap left bumper which seems to slow time to achieve the parry but with no clear sound effect to tell you you've succeeded), you are then tasked through dialogue that, again, has no English dub and relies on subtitles, to navigate what then becomes a 3d adventure in comparatively open space (when out of combat).

As much as I enjoyed the combat during the game's opening areas, I noticed two glaring issues with sighted assistance.

Stereo Audio

Playing on a surround sound system, then trying the audio on headphones as well to see if there was any difference, one big issue I noticed was that I couldn't tell whether enemies were ahead of or behind me, even when they were up close. With the brutal, unforgiving nature of this game's battle system, not knowing which way you need to be facing is a death sentence, which brings me to my next point.

Rotational Attacks

During the beginning of the game, you are informed that pressing A will turn you around so that you can face enemies on your other side, to paraphrase. However, whenever we tried to execute it, for no discernible reason, it would not work as intended, meaning I still ended up not facing the enemies and taking hits that, were the combat audio more defined in terms of direction and the rotational attacks working as expected, I would've parried.

Other Audio Elements

Irrespective of the game's lack of accessibility in the open world segments and even its issues with combat, what must be said is that the dialogue is well-delivered (though not understandable as a non-Japanese speaker). The music is apt and fitting for the setting, only really kicking in when combat is in progress, with any that does appear in the open world segments being suitably relaxed in tone.

Elements such as shrines, which are used to replenish both the player's health and stamina, In addition to ammunition pickups for the Bo-Shuriken that you gain access to later have audio cues when Interacted with. Shrines also have a cue for when they are nearby, which also proved useful even with sighted assistance as they could at times be difficult to see.

On further exploration of the combat system, it turned out that there was indeed an auditory difference when trying to parry incoming sword attacks, specifically that if you blocked an attack the weapons did not ring out metallically, but when you achieve a parry a sustained clang would be heard. This meant that I could, in theory, capitalise on this with counters, though the lack of fluidity in the combat system (likely due to the need to wait for animations to finish) made this difficult to achieve in the way I'd hoped.

During open-world segments, the ambient audio coupled with quality reverb is used to great effect to create the audio component of the game's atmosphere, but can be overbearingly loud in places. However, combined with the great voice acting, this makes for a cinematic experience, which is what the developers had hoped to achieve.





Trek To Yomi is yet another game that could've been fully accessible under the right circumstances, but whether through an absence of knowledge or otherwise, what could've been a fun and unforgiving test of reactions with an interesting and comprehensible story is instead a game that requires sighted assistance not just to play it, but also to understand what is being said at any point.

As much as this is the case, I do hope that at the very least elements like the controls could be tightened up to make the combat more fluid, allowing a greater level of precision even when just utilising audio cues.

In time, I hope that games like this can become fully playable without the need to constantly have someone by your side like a sensei.

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