I’ve often frequented the idea of what I would look like in Hell, or in the vast world of Hades. I’d possibly have a trumpet for a nose that can suck you in and spit out your organs to the tune of my favorite song. Who knows? There’s a lot of scenarios in which I’ve wondered how I’d survive in the underworld. Not too long ago, however, I acquired a game that would allow me to exact some of my fantasies and also give me the bliss of fun shooting angry hoards of the undead who want to kill me because, I don’t know, the video game didn’t explain that but it did explain in a sarcastic voice that coaxed a smile out of me “you died while skateboarding and you fell on a rock.”
That was immensely satisfying to know that my epic dexterity caused my death, but what wasn’t so epic, was the menus I had to navigate to in order to hear how I died. God Mode’s menus and the rest of this wicked madness were created by Atlus: a video game company that sound like a machine gun manufacturer. Picking up this game and deciding to test its devilish fun to my accessibility had been something that I wanted to do for a while but was unable to because I was trapped in the sixth circle of college hell known as final exams.
I finally did pick this game up and noticed that perhaps the developers were trying to kill me before I even started the game. The logos, nice and big, looked promising but I soon forgot that factor when my eye started to have a twitchy field trip trying to decide what the quick start option was and what the options were. The menus were about as helpful as a wale speaking Chinese and I soon had to look online and write down the menu order based on let’s play videos.
It’s worth noting that the options menu has some helpful assist for physically disabled gamers such as auto lock and targeting assist but you’d better have a heart respirator near you because you will definitely have an aneurism while trying to squint your way through all the menus. I myself had to take measures in case my brain committed suicide on me so I went online for a menu layout, which wasn’t easy to find.
After fiddling with the options, making sure the assists were on and the controls were to my liking I strained through starting a custom match, choosing one out of five arenas which run the gamut from crumbling Hellenic temples to iron-laced hell pits that would look at home in any God of War release. I chose to play by myself even though the game practically begs you to have a killing spree with your friends, or random strangers on Xbox live. There isn’t a single player campaign at all. This fun hellish dungeon is an arena style where players play unique rounds of Hades survivor. After choosing one of the many male characters, even though I’d liked to have a female, I began the game with invigorating excitement. I wasn’t disappointed.
With no story to fall back on this arena shooter I made up my own. I was a prince who held the secret to all tax reduction and every politician in hell didn’t want to have me run the United States the epic way so they had to destroy me simply because they knew that I defined the word sexy, even in hell.
Trotting around the arena as if I had bar bells in my shoes I dodged zombies attacks by rolling away pressing the A button, blasted my way through colossal challenges like minotaur’s and Cyclopes by holding down the right trigger until I defined the word disjointed. For someone in hell, I moved awfully slowly and I couldn’t even jump or even fly, which squashed my epic story somewhat. I still played because I could do basic things really easy like shoot. Ammo, and items, are picked up automatically when I walked over them making my cerebral palsy infected limbs a lot less strained.
The controls are somewhat easy enough to master if you’re disabled physically. Your friends won’t have to take pity on you because there are no quick time events as you survive the rank-and-file armored skeletons, acid-spewing harpies and hideously deformed cupids.
X reloads your gun, and A is used to roll but not jump while left trigger is used to look down your sights at an enemy. This method, if you’re thinking it will aid you in battle, even with the auto target on, is about as accurate as using letters to solve a math problem. Better accuracy is achieved when you aim normally at an enemy, no matter how close you are to an enemy.
Aiming down your sights causes bullets to scatter in every direction except at the enemy, no matter what weapon you use. Even though the controls are easy, the hordes of politicians won’t give you a lot of reaction time. The good thing is that there are no voice command options. My stutter wouldn’t have to be hell on the games processing ability.
Each arena has modifiers that will activate throughout the round until you killed everyone. I don’t know how many there are and Wikipedia didn’t have an answer but I’ve experienced modifiers that gave me unlimited ammo, making me almost as badass as the terminator, and making everyone, including me and a friend, die in one hit. Levels can be increased with oaths, extra modifiers that give you bonus points if you complete an area.
There’s no real order to the levels and there isn’t a singular goal, so there are no boss battles that you have to endure. Some environments are better lit than others tipping my gameplay with my limited vision. No matter how brightly lit the environment was however I still had to circle stupidly looking up at the sky as my friend peppered the flying republicans. There isn’t any helpful HUD option to help visually impaired gamers spot enemies either so I was spinning like a drunken cat, trying to locate an enemy several times.
With no learning mode either I was thrust into an online experience with other non-disabled noobs who didn’t have as sexy of hair as I did and proceeded to tell me that I sucked as I kept shooting at various team members because they looked hideous. I desperately wished that there were options to mute the lot of these puny humans but the game didn’t even have one option to disable voice chat.
After playing through a few arenas, boosting up my machine gun, and trying harder difficulties, I noticed that the level modifiers have a greater impact in battle if someone cranks the difficulty up to the highest. This was enough of a challenge to keep me beefing up my machine gun and character, still wishing that I could play as a female.
Even though this game soon sucked me into the endless mosh of hell spawn the often glitch caused my eyebrow to rise. I was having fun! I didn’t want to watch a guy run straight at a wall and suddenly become a bat wit twat while I felt contemptibly powerful but I guess Hades didn’t heed that plea.
Despite the glitches though the game not only provided me with endless hours of customization and a chance to survive a swarm of politicians and even present me with unique twists to otherwise repetitive gameplay, but allowed me to become the disabled ruler of my own hell avatar! While some aspects of my disabilities make it almost impossible to navigate the game, causing me to call all of my friends and read my will early over the phone because the menus want to kill me, there are parts that amerce the player, disabled or not even if other players online hate you and your mom and your kitty cat named Hades. God Mode may not be divine, but it delivers buckets of fun for hours, even to the disabled.
Robert Kingett is a blind journalist specializing in audio description, adaptive sports, and disability news. His essays have been published widely in magazines, blogs, and read on radio stations across the country and abroad. He has been published in several anthologies. He’s the chief writer consultant for Americas Comedy as well as a columnist for Truth Is Cool. His most popular column has been Kingett Reads Fifty Shades of Grey. He holds several editing jobs. He is a strong supporter and advocate for LGBTQ rights and has raised a great deal of funds for HIV and AIDS research.