Shortly after the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on March 22nd 2019, a discussion developed within the gaming community regarding difficulty and accessibility standards. Many commentators argued that Sekiro, and many From Software games in general, were willfully excluding certain player groups with the difficulty of the games they created, particularly those who suffered from physical disabilities.
In response to this discussion, a Reddit user who goes by Limitlessquad posted a video of his controller configuration and gameplay, while he proceeded to defeat the boss Corrupted Monk in a straightforward (read: no cheesing) battle. It was an impressive display for any player, and all the more poignant given the controversy around Sekiro. Rather than focus on the question of difficulty, we thought that there was a powerful story to be shared by Limitlessquad, who has adapted his gaming style to his condition and offers a unique perspective on the industry.
– Ryan Baker
Ryan: When did you start getting into gaming? What genres and consoles do you tend to stick to?
Limitlessquad: I had my accident 5 years ago and pretty much had to relearn gaming. The first game and console I could remember playing was Sonic the Hedgehog on a SEGA at my cousin’s, but the first game I fell in love with was Final Fantasy VII on the PS1. I used to watch my brother play through it, it just blew me away with the cut scenes, I loved the damage numbers, abilities, magic and weapons. So yeah, love Sony and JRPG/RPGs but also other genres. I also have a PC and Xbox One.
R: That’s awesome. Also interesting how a lot of the gameplay concepts you mentioned from the earlier FF games/JRPG have made their way into some of the more mainstream MMORPG’s over the years. Really proves there’s no right way to game – whatever mechanics you prefer, fun is fun. How does gaming impact your daily life? What amount of time do you spend gaming?
L: So I game like 8+ hours of the day. I actually don’t know what I’ll do without it. It helps me get through the day and keeps me happy.
R: This is a really interesting point. I think a lot of people have this relationship with games where the escape they provide can be cathartic, and empowering. What is it about certain games that you think triggers that effect?
L: Different games give me different vibes. It’s a hard question I just get lost in them.
R: Are there games that are more or less challenging to play because of your disability specifically? As in, not because they’re just From Software?
L: Online and offline FPS games on a controller are almost impossible for me; trying to aim, jump, shoot and move all at the same time, and the controller is to cramped. But to remedy that I play on the keyboard and mouse. Third-person RPG games seem to be a bit easier as the controller doesn’t demand multiple fast inputs compared to a FPS game, in my opinion.
R: All makes sense. Are there custom controller builds that you’ve ever tried, or have you just adjusted your play style to the controller for the most part? It could be a pretty valuable contribution to the industry and community if someone started making custom controller builds based on disabilities.
L: I have played with custom built controllers, I liked them and they help a lot but they’re are just too expensive. Check out broadenedhorizons.com, they have some adaptive controllers like the quad stick.
R: How communal are you with your gaming? Is this something that you view more as a personal activity, or are you involved in different either multiplayer or online forum communities?
L: I have a Youtube and Twitch (Limitlessquad). I’m in multiple gaming groups on FB and I float around a lot of online forums.
R: Is there a game that personally impacted you more than any other? Either through narrative, gameplay, or some other intangible factor that really spoke to you?
L: Might sound cliché, but Dark Souls taught me determination. Before I learned to play on a controller again I was mainly just playing Battlefield with keyboard & mouse, but then my pc crashed back in 2016 and I only had my PS4. The only game I played on a controller after my accident was Kingdom Hearts 2, and I did decently well so I thought hack and slash games were my best bet. I went to the PlayStation Store and found Dark Souls 3 for $30 AUD, and I thought it was a great deal. I’d heard everyone saying it was hard, I started playing and indeed it was, but somehow I was already in love and from there the determination that DS3 gave me took me through a journey from the Souls games to here with Sekiro.
R: I can’t speak for Miyazaki, but I’d personally imagine that’s exactly what they as developers would be hoping to hear. If you don’t mind me asking, do you think these games would still have the same appeal to you before your accident? So many of the rewards of the game are linked to that struggle and perseverance – themes that could easily be not as powerful without disruptive life events like you’ve had. Obviously, From Software has a massive player base and appeal these days – I’m just wondering how your personal experience may have been different from other players.
L: Honestly I think I may have never discovered these games if it wasn’t for my accident, which is kind of sad. I think my experience would be similar to most players that complete these games, you’re struggling the whole way thinking you can’t do it but then at some point it just clicks and you feel almost invincible then a sense of accomplishment.
R: Moving more into Sekiro: what brought you to this game? Were you attracted to the game by the difficulty in and of itself, or more general gameplay?
L: I’ve always loved swords and Japanese game development. From Software’s games just have this charm I can’t find in other games, and I also love a good original soundtrack.
R: Agreed, though I have to admit I follow the advice of those who recommend turning off the soundtrack for boss fights. Just gets my heart pumping too fast and then I make mistakes. That being said, I agree on the charm especially – there’s an aesthetic to all of their games that’s hard to describe but very appealing.
R: Are there aspects of the game you would change, if you were Miyazaki? Either because of your unique play style, or generally anything you think could be improved?
L: The game is great as it is. A lot of people would like some kind of PvP or co-op mode… I don’t think there’s enough variety for PvP, but they could do co-op if they wanted to, similarly to Nioh. For me maybe just a bit of customization for your gear and maybe a couple of different movesets would be cool.
R: Yes. Couldn’t agree more regarding some sort of multiplayer mode, co-op being ideal. We’ll see where they go with that. I definitely felt like there were more options for customization that would not have compromised the story and vision From Software had as well.
R: What are your thoughts on the Sekiro mechanics?
L: Deflection was my most anticipated mechanic to be honest. I love the feeling of a perfect timed parry on Dark souls, using the Golden Fleece on God of War, or reversals on Tekken. They’re all so satisfying.
R: Do you think multiplayer gameplay can rest on the deflection mechanic? Is it fair/universal enough to incorporate in PvP?
L: I think PvP would be great but it’ll be a battle for posture bars and every fight would feel the same eventually. They might have to rework the combat system If they want PvP.
R: Have you played the other From Software games? If yes, how do they stack up in comparison, in your opinion?
L: Yes, I have a platinum on all of the Soulsborne games except Dark Souls 2 and Demon’s Souls. Sekiro goes in my top 3.
R: Damn. I uhhhh… have not.
R: Who is your favorite character/boss/general NPC in Sekiro?
L: I like Genichiro. He’ll do whatever he can, even if it means sacrificing himself.
R: What’s your favorite prosthetic in Sekiro?
L: I didn’t use it much, but the Mist Raven can be used very stylishly. But, for raw strength, that will be the axe.
R: Same on my end with this one. I wanted the Mist Raven to be more useful than it was, it mostly just looked awesome. Axe timing was tricky to pull off in my experience – though I guess you’ve already proven your timing is better.
L: One more thing that stands out in my experience as a disabled gamer online is that I’m actually afraid to tell people I’m disabled, I don’t know how they’ll react.
R: When you say you don’t know how people will react to your disability; is this generally in multiplayer communities, or over Twitch/other game stream platforms? Have you had negative experiences in the past?
I know the support on your original Corrupted Monk post on Reddit was pretty universal – that being said, that’s a very small subset of the gaming community. Is your concern the reaction from the wider gaming community?
L: I haven’t had many bad experiences, sometimes I may be thinking about it too much.
I like to play Overwatch too, I can play Quickplay fine but I get really anxious when I join a ranked game because I know how toxic it can be. I don’t want people to be like, “I’m stuck with the handicapped”, but like I said before, I might be thinking about it too much.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Limitlessquad. The Entertainium team wishes you the best of luck moving forward and hope to see you tearing through whatever new From Software game comes next!