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ReCore's color-based gameplay forced its devs to rethink accessibility

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Color is key, but what about colorblind players?

With ReCore, longtime Mega Man producer Keiji Inafune's studio, Comcept, and Austin-based developer Armature are approaching colorblind accessibility differently.

The action-adventure game, due out on Xbox One and Windows PC Sept. 13, follows a young woman named Joule and her gang of robot companions. It's a game obsessed with colors; in its enemies, its gameplay, color is for more than show. It has a significant impact on how the game plays and how its story will unfold, according to game director Mark Pacini of Armature Studio.

"We realized very early on that, because one of our producers is colorblind, that relying so much on a color system, it's very important to keep [accessibility] in mind and have a solution," Pacini told Polygon.

ReCore appears to just be about color matching on a surface level, Pacini said. However, it plays heavily into character personalities and enemy properties. Blue is electrical, for example, and has stun abilities; it also represents someone "happy-go-lucky." Red is for fire attacks and inflicting damage over time, and creatures of this color do more damage. Yellow signifies both slowing down enemies and a "scaredy cat" personality, and so on with other colors that appear throughout the game.

Because the game is so color heavy, Armature and Comcept will add accessibility options for colorblind players. Although these options were not available in the build we saw, Pacini said that there will be more colors than those shown in the demo, as well as a symbol system to help players.

"We've come up with a dynamic system that turns on with colorblind mode — it's based around symbols than actual colors," he said. "We didn't think that we'd be able to fix the game by adjusting the color with of a tinted screen. Whenever you turn on colorblind mode, symbols will appear next to the creature health bars as well as all your abilities that coordinate with that."