Review copy provided by Playstation Spain.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered is a new edition of a critically acclaimed game, with a strong narrative, excellent gameplay and impressive accessibility features. This version improves the graphics and audio and adds a few things.
The story mode adds a few extra gameplay sections, and a few accessibility features to the already extensive list, like Audio Description for cutscenes and improved haptic feedback. Beyond that, it remains the same and you can read here the original full review of The Last of Us Part 2.
The gameplay is expanded with the No Return mode, a roguelike experience with randomized levels, enemies and challenges. Roguelikes’ unpredictable nature requires quick reactions and adaptation, and for that the player requires complete info that is easy to understand and process. This can be a challenge and it is for that reason that this Low Vision accessibility game review focuses mostly on this new mode.
When starting the game for the first time we have the same initial setup as we have in the original version.
When accessing the options in the main menu we can see all options available in the game. Since we already reviewed this game, I’ll just mention the No Return options and another one under Accessibility.
Under HUD there is a No Return specific section on the bottom. Here we can adjust some options for this mode. The first option is to display Boss Health that can be enabled or disabled. When set to On, it will show the boss health bar during the fight. Next is Listen Mode indicators that can also be turned On or Off. This feature is to enable HUD markers while in Listen Mode pointing to Supply Caches and Dead Drops in No Return.
The next option on this list is the Gambits. Gambits are optional objectives that if completed will reward us. This displays HUD messages for active Gambits. We can choose from Off, Minimal and Default. When set to Minimal, it will only display messages on its state such as progress or completion.
We can also choose the Dead Drops between Minimal or Default. This displays HUD for Dead Drops in No Return. When set to Minimal, it will only display when close enough to interact with it.
The next option is Mods. We can adjust how mods are displayed when activated in No Return. We can choose from Default, HUD Only and Effects Only. When set to Default it will display both HUD and Effects around the player. The HUD Only and Effects Only value does exactly what the presets suggest. You can also turn this display Off.
Moving on, we have Encounter Display that can be enabled or disabled. This enables encounter information on screen. The next option is Hideout Currency that we can enable or disable. Once enabled, it displays current quantities of Supplements, Parts and Currency while in the Hideout. Enemy markers have four presets, Off, Last Enemy, incoming and Default. When set to Default, it will display both Incoming and Last Enemy. The last option is Countdown that displays the time for the next wave and the encounter duration.
Under Accessibility – Screen Reader and Audio Cues we have Cinematic Descriptions that are new to The Last of Us Part 2. We can turn it On or Off. Once enabled, cinematics will have audio descriptions to help players with visual impairments to better understand what is happening on screen. This was already implemented in Part 1 Remastered and it was a great addition. Here is no different, and it is always awesome to have descriptions of cutscenes, especially in those that are very dark and sometimes we can miss some information. Also, they are super well done and improve the immersive quality of the experience.
In Audio options there is an additional Volume slider for Cinematic Descriptions from 0 to 100.
The only thing I can say regarding the main story is about the Cinematic descriptions that are an amazing addition to this Part 2. The original experience was enhanced with this new feature present in Part 1, making a game that was already a referent even better if that’s possible.
The Dual Sense features are cool, but I never found them to be as useful as I wish they were. But in case you want the accessibility features to be the only vibrations in your controller, you can do that, but the impact is minimal because we already get that information through audio cues. In my opinion, it is just another good detail added to the game.
Before starting a new run, I explored some of the menus in there. I must say the Screen Reader is fully working for this mode as well as it is in the main game.
In the Challenges menu it reads all the information on screen. It reads the challenge, Challenge Status, available or not and the Reward by completing it. It also reads the number of Challenges available and how many we completed. The Tutorial menu is also completely accessible, the Screen Reader reads everything.
When starting a new run, we can choose from six difficulty levels, Very Light, Light, Moderate, Hard, Survivor and Grounded. Very Light being the easiest and Grounded the hardest. Additionally, we can choose a Custom experience by individually adjusting difficulty levels for different aspects of the game. We can change the Player’s resistance, Enemy, Allies, Stealth and Resources. The Allies difficulty will adjust how aggressive they are.
Once we create a New Run, a message pops up explaining what the No Return mode is all about and how it works. I am repeating myself here, but these tutorial messages are totally accessible, the Screen Reader reads it all, all the time, with a consistency that is essential for the best experience.
Also, we get to see the Controller Scheme and the Screen Reader also reads all the buttons and their functions before we start playing.
During the Character selection, the Screen Reader reads the character’s name, Inventory and Traits.
After a few tutorial messages we arrive at the Hideout and the Screen Reader starts to read some tips such as, how to use the Navigation Assistance in this mode by swiping the touch pad down to switch between the different elements like the Workbench, Leaderboard, Caches after each run etc.
There is nothing that we can miss because of this, everything is well explained.
When we finally jump into action, the Screen Reader tells us the type of match we’re currently in, if it is Infected, Assault etc., and the time for the round or wave to start. We can hear this countdown sound effect playing in the background, so we know when we’re near the start of the wave.
After completing a run, it informs us that the Cache is available and what buttons to press to track it. When picking its content, it reads everything we have collected. At the end of the run, and in the Hideout, it tells us that there is a cache available there and when picking it up, it reads all its content as well. Before going back to the Hideout, it reads all the results to the player, leaving nothing behind.
The No Return mode is completely accessible and there is nothing that is missing. Just like the main game, with the same accessibility features that made the original shine, including High Contrast mode.
The Last of Us Part 2 was and still is already an accessibility masterpiece, even today. It changed the way games and accessibility were perceived, and it brought blind and low vision accessibility to a whole new level. This Remastered version comes to improve by adding what was left out. A few features, like the Cinematic Descriptions that were missing, and many players wanted are present now.
It is impressive too that the new No Return mode is also accessible at the same level of the main game. It is clear once more that Naughty Dog really wants everyone to equally experience their game. Well, what else could we ask for? We wanted more high quality content and for it to be fully accessible, and now we finally have it.
- Excellent Audio Descriptions for cutscenes.
- Screen Reader works flawlessly.
- Consistent features make No Return mode fully accessible.
- Good tutorials.
- Improved haptics.
Victor is a gamer with very low vision who is passionate about game accessibility. When he is not glued to the PC, he spends his days with his dog on long walks in green and beautiful places. Trying to improve every day in order to contribute as much as possible with the accessibility community. You can contact him on Twitter at @VictorAndre87