Earlier this week, Twitch streamer Dylan “Rudeism” Beck blew our minds by beating Dark Souls III using a single-button setup to hammer out Morse code. It’s an impressive feat to be sure and one that also touches on something Rudeism is quite passionate about: accessibility in games.
At the end of his Dark Souls III Morse code run, Rudeism said difficulty choices act as accessibility options and that “every game” should have them. This includes Dark Souls III, which has no accessibility or difficulty options like the other Dark Souls games. Sure, you can recruit a friend via online multiplayer, but that doesn’t equate to choosing “easy” over “hard.”
In a longer Twitch clip, Rudeism went on to say the one-button setup is “exactly why [Dark Souls III] should have an easy mode.” He mentioned issues like needing a certain reaction time, which can be difficult for disabled gamers to get right. He added that difficulty options “don’t take away” from a game by making them accessible to every type of player
Rudeism detailed his setup to Kotaku over email while discussing issues with reaction time and difficulty in Dark Souls III. He said difficulty is “relative,” mentioning that refusing to include additional options creates “obstacles” that are the same height for everyone. If there’s only one difficulty selection, that’s not a choice as much as it is a barrier that purposely locks other kinds of gamers out of the gaming experience.
“Those obstacles, unmoving in their height, can become harder—or even impossible—to clear,” Rudeism said.
That’s where Rudeism thinks difficulty options come in handy to broaden games’ accessibility to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to cross those barriers otherwise.”
“If you can’t react fast enough due to a physical limitation, you’re essentially locked out of progressing,” Rudeism said. “My limitation was by choice, but there are millions of disabled gamers who don’t have that luxury.”
Rudeism used the Twin Princes boss, which was harder than The Nameless King, as an example. This is because the delay of the button Rudeism used wasn’t much faster than the dual-bosses attacks. It’s a reality many disabled gamers face by default but can’t always address without accessibility or difficulty options for faster rolls or infinite health.
As someone with keratoconus, a rare degenerative eye condition, I wholeheartedly agree. Everything is blurry for me, even with expensive-ass corrective contacts. As such, reacting to quick movements isn’t always possible. Sometimes, I can’t tell what’s in front of me, and that makes gaming frustrating. I frequently die due to physical limitations rather than because I’m “not good.” As they say, you can’t hit what you can’t see.
Rudeism mentioned Celeste and Hades as examples of games that “do a great job” of implementing accessibility options while remaining true to their gameplay. He said Dark Souls could do the same and hopes FromSoftware’s Elden Ring will listen to the call for better accessibility.