Death's Door - UX & Accessibility Case Study

Death’s Door is an action-adventure RPG developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. The game is centered around a crow, named The Reaper, who’s job is to reap the souls of the dead who refuse to pass on.

The game mechanics are inspired by the Legend of Zelda and the Souls series. During my play through, I analyzed accessibility issues I came across and created solutions following best practices for video game accessibility.

Disclaimer: I do not own any rights to Death’s Door nor am I associated with Acid Nerve and Devolver Digital.

The main problem I identified

Designing for disabilities is crucial for games as it will not only create an equal playing field for impaired demographics, but also allow games to thrive in the market.

According to the Game Accessibility Guidelines, "15% of the population are disabled, rising to 20% amongst casual gamers." If accessibility is not considered during development, then game studios are losing a huge percentage of a potential audience who genuinely want to play their games.

Original accessibility menu

Problem | Nearby items don't produce sound

Death’s Door carries a vivid soundscape, but it lacks audio signals to indicate nearby items and objects. Sound effects only play once an item is obtained, which would make it difficult for visually impaired players to locate.

Solution | Interaction Sound Cues

To fix this, I took inspiration from fighting games, which are known for their high quality sound design. I added a “Interaction Sound Cues” option in the accessibility menu that plays distinct sound effects when a player is near an item or object.

Problem | Unvoiced Narrative

Voice acting can be expensive and in some cases, some games are intended to not have voiced dialogue. But that would be inaccessible to blind gamers who wouldn’t be able to navigate the UI, understand the story and learn important information.

Solution | Text-to-speech

By having the game configured to screen reading software, I added a text-to-speech option to the accessibility menu. The decision to create a toggle option covers all possible scenarios for visually impaired gamers:

• The gamer has someone to assist them with the game’s controls.

• They’re alone, but they’re able to navigate through the game because their PC screen reader was configured during installation.

Ryan Rosales | Video Game UI/UX Designer