In recent years, the gaming industry has been taking more meaningful steps towards accessibility. Xbox has been leading that charge, living up to its slogan of “gaming is for everyone,” but that company is far from the only one trying to do better in terms of what it means to be a more accessible game. Psychonauts 2 is aiming to do just that by adding in a new Invincibility Mode, and while that decision seems to have some backlash from the community, this option is completely voluntary and does much in the way of making sure anyone that wants to play can.
Double Fine reaffirmed the feature in response to a tweet from Xbox that read, “Beating the game on the lowest difficulty is still beating the game.” The studio’s response was, “If you beat Psychonauts 2 with the invincibility toggle on, you still beat P2.” This back and forth was inspired by a conversation that has been years in the making but has been much more at the forefront as the accessibility spotlight grows brighter and more and more games aim to capture that Dark Souls, Sekiro magic in terms of both story and challenge delivered. Where many feel that their Gamer Card would be revoked by knocking down that setting, despite it being an option, others need it in order to be able to play. This much is evident with the Xbox adaptive controller, which allows for tailored controls so that anyone can dive in despite their personal circumstance.
What is the Invincibility Mode in Psychonauts 2?
First and foremost, this is an option to choose in the game, it will not be chosen for you. If you’re the type of player, the one that wants the hardest challenge possible? You can absolutely still get that with the Psychonauts 2 experience. The Invincibility Mode isn’t taking the place of any difficulty setting, and it’s not removing the more challenging ones. What this offers is a chance for those that would like and/or need more assistance to be able to play through the game in a way that is doable and is comfortable. It takes Easy Mode to the next level, not unlike those mods and console commands that PC users love called God Mode, where you can just sit back and enjoy the journey at your own pace.
Double Fine knows that this decision isn’t a big hit with many, and that’s the reason why this mode isn’t doing away with other ways to play. In the original tweet referencing Xbox’s post, the studio added:
All people should be able to enjoy games. All ages, all possible needs. It’s an ongoing and important process for our industry and a challenge we need to met.
End of the day? We want you to have fun, to laugh, to experience a story that affects you. On whatever terms you want.
— Double Fine (@DoubleFine) July 9, 2021
This mode will be available to toggle on or off at will, it’s the player’s choice. Gaming is for everyone and more than that, a player’s enjoyment is their own. However, for many? The option to even enjoy something simply isn’t there, and that much is evident by the impressive sales that the Xbox Adaptive controller has seen: there’s a market for that because not everyone has the same capability, the same means of playing. In the same vein, we’ve seen leaps and bounds regarding epileptic safety, colorblind options, changes in subtitles and narration — there is so much work being done to make gaming available to all, and so much work left to do.
“There is a misconception that exists that making games accessible makes them less ‘hardcore’ or challenging,” said Brannon Zahand, who is the Senior Gaming Accessibility Program Manager over at Microsoft, in a previous interview with Game Informer talking about Xbox’s accessibility initiative. “There is also a misconception that building features for a ‘small’ group of individuals takes resources away from making the game better for the majority of users.”
He added, “Whether you are a hardcore gamer who prefers to remap your controls just so, or a younger gamer who has a hard time holding a controller, or a gamer missing a finger, a feature like button remapping is valuable. If you can’t hear your TV over the sound of your kids playing or because you are d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, subtitles are valuable. That’s accessibility.
“Our goal is to empower people around the world to play the games they want, with the people they want, on the devices they want. And that is achieved when games are designed inclusively and accessibly so gamers can play in whatever way is right for them.”
Now, more gamers than before can enjoy the joy that Psychonauts 2 aims to give players, and you’ll be able to check it out for yourself when the game releases on August 25, 2021. You can learn even more about the upcoming game with our exclusive coverage here as part of our Game Informer Magazine coverage.