Blind / Low Vision Game Review – Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most anticipated games for this year. But is it accessible to Blind / Low Vision gamers? Find out in our review.
A yellow wallpaper with futuristic text that says Cyberpunk. A cyborg looking man is looking off to the side, holding a futuristic pistol and wearing combat clothing, while also rocking an awesome shaved hairstyle. He is epic. He is the future.

Introduction

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most anticipated titles for this year. Developed and published by CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077 is an action role-playing video game that takes places in a futuristic cityscape called Night City. Here, we can immerse ourselves into the elaborate story as an outlaw mercenary named V. The game includes an in-depth narrative, detailed RPG elements, and vast open-world. The game is set to release on December 10, 2020.

Given the major hype surrounding Cyberpunk 2077, I was very excited to finally have my hands on it and can now share how the accessibility is from a Low Vision perspective. But though the game is promising for it’s attention to detail, the accessibility needs work.

Night City landscape. Hovercars are seen flying through the air. Buildings of bright colorful, neon signs in many languages. It's a cloudy, blue day. on the bottom right, an old broken down building. The future looks bright, but imperfect.

Settings

On the Main Menu, issues are immediately apparent for Low Vision Accessibility. I am unable to use the magnifier to read in-game content because my magnifier gets stuck in the middle of the screen.

From here, the configuration process is so tiring. To make it past the main menu, I have to use my phone camera to read the options and configure the minimum possible settings to optimize my player experience. The dark, red text color doesn’t help at all.

Gamma correction in Cyberpunk 2077, which players can adjust the brightness.

Even when I am able to get past the main menu, I spent wasted time trying to start a new game because I cannot read anything on the screen. I just press some of the first options on the left, hoping I chose the easy mode. I play all my games on normal difficulty, but since the game does not allow me to read it, I felt that easy mode was a safer choice.

Difficult settings offerings easy, normal, hard, and very hard.

Gameplay

Once I got the game running, our first task is to make the car work, which I find easy to do. The one great thing about Cyberpunk 2077 is the in-world indicators, especially if you use the Hack View. It makes the background darker, which allows me to see the quest marks. More so, it helps to see the manual marks and loot. By completing this task, you must choose what to answer to a man. Again, there is no way to do it.  I just press the F key every time.

Basic in-game view, where enemies have red outlines and indicators are clearly presented, making information clear to read.

After this conversation, we have to drive. I find myself using the Hack View to see the in-world indicators, since the contrast makes the indicators visually pop on my screen. With this, I am able to drive in the game easy enough. The Map is also very good, at least at the beginning that I didn’t unlock anything. The quest marker was very easy to see and track. The below two examples are (1) without the Hack View and (2) with the Hack View.

Players also put manual markers on the road to help you know where they have to turn, which is especially helpful when we have multiple turns to take. Personally this is all somewhat doable for Low Vision / Blind gamers because of the Hack view.

After driving for a few seconds I had to do the first tutorial. I believe that this tutorial was the most confusing one I’ve ever had.

First, the game prompts players with what we need to do. But in order to move forward with the tutorial, you have to read the Hints that are placed on the bottom left and top right of the screen to know exactly which key to press and which action to perform.

It takes a lot of effort to get through the first two parts of the tutorial. In my experience, I find that I had to guess what to do, where I would press one key, then press another one, eventually getting correct input. The guessing involved on this just left me breathless.

It doesn’t help that every time you fail, it makes an effect that makes me dizzy due to the glitch-like animations, which restarts the whole level. What makes it worse is that for me, I’m left sitting on my couch wondering how I failed. What happened? Where’s the feedback? That’s a horrible feeling.

In the end, I had to wait for some sight assistance, just so I could keep reviewing to game. But even then, but it is still confusing game for the other player that assisted me.

After digesting my sadness and genuine frustration, I went back to do my first mission. To be honest, while I was playing Cyberpunk 2077, I was not sure about what objective I had to do. The game kept talking about a target, but as someone who is Low Vision, the information presented to me was unclear.

In the end, I was able to fight off some enemies and somehow managed to get to the target. Turns out, I had to go to an elevator and take it to another floor. However, I ended up spending at least 15 minutes before I figured out that I had to press the T key to perform an action—an action, which by the way, I’m still not sure what I did.

Eventually, I had to go to another elevator, but despite doing everything I knew to progress through the game, I got stuck. To be honest, I probably used all my keyboard keys and still, there is no way for me to know exactly what to do. I was left frustrated, and ultimately I made the decision to end my playthrough.

Concluding Thoughts

Based on my experiences, Cyberpunk 2077 is not accessible for Blind / Low Vision gamers.

Still, not everything is bad. The in-world objective indicators are nice, especially when used in combination with the Hack View—though they are only really visible in dark places.

However, there is no way to navigate in any menu. This game is a RPG with tons of text and information. And if you have a vision-related disability, it is impossible to play when your magnifier is stuck in the middle of the screen. Even if I could use the magnifier to read some of the information, I would not be able to read all of the weapons/abilities descriptions because they are currently presented in a floating box, making it inaccessible to me.

Street cred menu, including tons of level ups and upgrades.

So to summarize, I regret to say that Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that should be avoided by visually impaired players. Hopefully, CD Projekt Red will consider making changes, if not for this title, any future games developed by the studio.

But in the meantime, it still hurts to go into the future and feel like I’m back in the past.

Johnny, played by Keanu Reeve, looks onto the viewer. He looks dirty and worn, but intense and epic. He is ready to freaking go.

Blind / Low Vision Game Review - Cyberpunk 2077

Overall Score - 3

3

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