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Accessibility Reviews - R.I.P.D. or Mommy, Look At My Eye Twitching!

Archive article by Robert Kingett on Friday, February 12, 2016 - 09:00

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I’ve played some uniquely designed games and some of these were so bad that I should have been arrested for playing them. While there’s a lot of content out there that deviates from the normal track, there are those elite video game developers who think that if they do what everyone else is doing and actually discourage creativity/ individual thought that they will sell their game, receiving praise because they followed the practice of “monkey see, monkey do.” Some video game developers who are so dense actually get smacked in the head and told how dumb they are, causing them to thankfully take a step back, look, and scratch their head like a cat who suddenly woke up on the back of a time traveling hippo, an evil beast wishing to place higher taxes on pizza. It’s only after this happens that some video game developers understand that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, thus realising that they’ve doomed their own design.

Old School Games didn’t quite get the memo, however, possibly because they were busy making an entirely multiplayer-cooperative-horde shooter that copies everything from gameplay, to level design, to even the trend of undead things walking around from the game God Mode. I’d even stretch my accusatory finger to say that even the glitches were copied but that would be exacting a wild fantasy. R.I.P.D.: The Game has a well-known storyline if you have seen the movie but if you didn’t subject yourself to that ordeal then I suggest leaving R.I.P.D.’s story alone because there are definitely some things in there that the brain just isn’t equipped for. Based on the 3D supernatural action-adventure film, you and a partner, who isn’t named, assume the roles of two lawmen dispatched, without apparent rhyme or reason, to the Otherworld. This Otherworld isn’t even given a helpful explanation or even a descriptive sentence to help understand the already migraine inducing story. You’re tasked to protect and serve, without an apparent purpose, the living from an increasingly destructive series of souls that don’t get a back story at all, who refuse to move peacefully to the other side without any explanation as to why.


R.I.P.D. Ammo

Honed teamwork and an arsenal of killer weapons are the keys to defeating your enemies and bringing serenity back to the world but saving it will be harder to stick with for the sheer reason that the gameplay is very repetitive and not very forgiving to visually disabled players at all. The game’s first level started off showing me just how blind and incompetent I really was. Upon loading the game and begging my friends to join me, I was soon challenged with a very unique first level that tested my visually impaired eye as well as my sanity. This level had a bright white twinge to it, with very small text matching the glaring white background lining up the left column of the screen in a little square surrounding the white letters. Wondering if this was a clever way to test my puzzle solving skills, I assumed I had to find the right text to proceed. I frantically moved my cursor around in dire disdain, trying every barely legible item before finally proceeding onto a menu where the only clear thing I could see was an avatar. I then realized that this eye twitching text-fest that wasted thirty minutes of squinting and headache prevention wasn’t a level at all but the menu system!


After about twenty more minutes of asking my Xbox Live friend what this and that was as I customized my character, we saw the actual, in-game levels, which were pale in both difficulty and variety. All seven levels have the same arena style design where you and an intelligent teammate engage in the simple gameplay mechanic of running and blasting your way around, killing homeless looking zombies that are hard to spot if you have a vision problem, around maps that are just as eye twitching because of the poor contrast design and dark environments. The levels are not the only things that will make visually disabled gamers cry but your teammate and enemies will as well thanks to the game’s HUD. It’s painful and confoundedly difficult to tell what’s actually happening, such as where your teammate is and whether you’re winning. The only indication that your bullets do anything are the small blood splotches that shoot out from zombies from time to time, making it really difficult to tell if you’re having any impact.

As for your partner, he is only marked by a username above his head that hops around the screen as if it took lessons from a bunny on speed and even that flashes on and off randomly appearing in a different part of the screen like a confused traffic light. You can revive him when he goes down, but be sure to draw a map of your own of each arena before you do so because the game has no mini map and no way to make finding your partner easy in any of the levels. On a lighter note, there are some interesting mechanics associated with the in-match challenges, such as the ability to earn extra points for arresting a powerful enemy by standing near him for the allotted time, or the granting of special abilities for earning high kill streaks but the motivation to do any of these isn’t all that clear, especially without the feel of a looming boss battle or even something a little bit more complex like a progressive storyline with a good amount of voice acting.

R.I.P.D. Aiming

My ears also failed to have an enjoyable time when playing R.I.P.D, as the game had no audible effects that made them smile. Guns sound as they do in many older games where bullets sound like Rice Krispies cereal and the one liners spewed out randomly soon had me listening to a selection of audiobooks as I played the game. The lines are funny but the two lawmen say it so often that I don’t get why they say it, as they're sometimes cracking wise even while standing still. The controls are pretty straightforward and easy for the physically disabled to use, but the only way to find out what they do is trial and error since there is no helpful. The glitches throughout the game are plentiful and make for a real put down. I have to wonder what the game testers were doing if they let inactive turrets that are supposed to shoot an enemy a few inches away into the gameplay as well as glitches where running into a wall caused me to vertically scale it and get my head stuck, before plummeting at terminal velocity to a black void. There are even glitches where zombies suddenly forget what they are doing and will run away from you as if you have a naked picture of them or something and then there are still other glitches where an enemy will hit you when he swings five feet away. Perhaps the testers were listening to an enjoyable full cast audiobook and nodding off, making their head pound “okay” and “no problem” on the keyboard.


Even though R.I.P.D. is a cooperative experience, I felt that it wanted to turn over to the dark side because it did its best to turn us against each other. Before each match, we were presented with a list of “bets” to take turns crossing off until only one remained. This became the active bet of the match, and whoever won the bet got extra cash at the end. One of them was killing each other and we stood in wonderment why the game exuded a sad bi-polar manner all of a sudden. With so much potential, it’s staggering to see R.I.P.D. trying really hard to be something that the glitches and stale gameplay prevent, not to mention the copying. R.I.P.D. is a sad child of the gaming world that I can’t even pat on the head and point out the very few good points of because every other bad hindrance is weighing me down like a skinny amputee with a new flabby limb. The game falls so hard that it doesn’t even make a sound when it smacks the ground anymore it just has a glitch spasm and then lurches forward on its poor pixels. R.I.P.D. is a game that can definitely be enjoyed by disabled gamers and non-disabled alike but there are better games out there that provide original content, less glitches and more immersion coupled with actual reasons to play them.

Accessibility Score: 3/10

R.I.P.D was provided for review by the game's publisher

About the Author

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Robert Kingett

Robert Kingett is a blind journalist in Chicago who is the author of Off the Grid, living blindly without the Internet. He has been gaming ever since he picked up his first Atari back in 1990. he actively makes a living writing for various blogs and websites with the occasional guest post. He is also an advocate, encouraging education about video game accessibility on mainstream gaming publications