Just after I published this piece on game accessibility in the fall issue of AccessWorld, a game was brought to my notice that used one of the access methods I discussed in that piece. The game is called Conjury, and uses the Unity Accessibility Plugin to provide access to the user interface (UI) for people who use screen readers. The game is a turn based card game, meaning that by making the UI accessible, the game itself is entirely playable. I was excited to bring information on this game to our readers as the game is a recent example of a successful implementation of the Unity Accessibility Plugin while being an enjoyable game in its own right.
For this piece, I will be specifically discussing the PC version of the game, playing using the NVDA screen reader. The game is available on iOS and Android where it is also accessible. Conjury is a "Deck Building" game, which might be unfamiliar to some as it is a fairly new genre. Popularized by the game Slay the Spire (Accessible on PC using a game mod), a deck building game sees the player using a deck of cards to play through a series of challenges while acquiring more powerful cards along the way. The goal is to choose cards that synergize well together to aid you in the challenges set before you. For a demonstration of game play, see this video I recorded detailing how the game is played and a first-hand example of its accessibility features on PC.
In the case of Conjury, you are a warrior exploring the dangerous and eternally dark Lumtham woods, seeking to defeat the monsters within and escape alive. The game is broken up into four sections of five stages each, called floors, where you encounter monsters to defeat, have the opportunity to take part in a story event for a potential reward, upgrade equipment cards at an altar, or purchase items that provide permanent bonuses at a shop. Each section ends with a boss battle on floor 5. With each boss you defeat, you acquire gems with which you can purchase new characters.
Game controls are simple, involving only the arrow keys and the enter key. You can navigate through elements with the up and down arrow keys while the left and right arrows will move you between different sections of the UI. When an element is focused, the game will announce how you can interact with that option and if it cannot be used, it will be marked as disabled. In some cases, there is a slight delay between the announcement of the focused element and the other information.
Being able to navigate between different sections of the screne is particularly helpful during battles. The battle screen includes many different sections, such as player and enemy information, your hand, and other options. You can navigate between sections using the up and down arrow keys; moving from the last option in one section will place you at the top of the next, but navigating by section is far faster. When you enter a new section, that section's title is read, such as "Map Screen" or "Bottom Bar".
The game also will read text that only appears momentarily, this includes dialogue with other characters and the battle cries of some enemies. Note that this information is not retained, so cannot be review if you miss it.
The game itself is quite enjoyable, and I would consider it a great introduction to deck building games due to the straightforward controls and game design. If you are looking to add accessibility to your own game, this provides a solid example of how it can be accomplished.
In regards to improvements, I would love to see some elements be read more quickly, there can be some lag between an element's name and the details of that element, e.g., if it is a button or other control, if it is disabled, and the hint on how to interact with it. In addition, there is some lag when quickly navigating between multiple sections of the screen. Finally, it would be helpful to have some sort of log where a player could review temporary text.
That being said, I greatly enjoy Conjury and give the developer major kudos for their quick work in making the game playable to screen reader users, especially considering the high quality of the access implemented. Again, if you would like to see how Conjury is played, be sure to check out the demonstration video.