This review could easily be as brief as our review of Donut County. The game is wonderful and simple (in mechanics and controls) and it is a largely visual game.
However… There’s one major issue that I (Susan) ran into that I can’t even say will apply to all Deaf players. This issue revolves largely around how you read and learned to read.
A little explanation for anyone unfamiliar: Hearing people learn to read differently than some Deaf do. Hearing children are taught to identify words by sounding them out. Meaning is associated to words through the sound they make (this is why lots of hearing people struggle with your and you’re, they’re/there/their, etc.) Deaf people who learned to read before they learned to speak (if they have learned to speak) often learn to identify words by appearance/spelling. If you’ve never heard a word, it’s sound can’t be assigned any meaning. So, for a hearing person, hearing a character in a game say “cometh” leaves them able to associate a similar sounding word and intuit its meaning of “come.” A Deaf person? Not so much. Because “cometh” looks like an entirely different word than “come” when you identify it by spelling alone. And given English’s penchant for having 15 words that all mean the same thing and 15 similar words that all mean something different, it’s not so easy for us to guess the meaning.
The above images are shots of the opening sequence for one of the eight characters you can choose to play as. With all the old English style words used, you can imagine how long it took me to read each line of dialogue, as it involved some Googling, a fair amount of what the hell does that mean? and plenty of frustration.
The game is fantastic with its Deaf accessibility.
In the options menu, you’ve got the ability to choose from two spoken languages and you can use the sliders to adjust the volume of various things.
Everything you need for combat and exploration is conveyed visually with icons, colors, and symbols. The turn-based combat leaves you not ever being surprised because you couldn’t hear a nearby enemy (nobody can hear nearby enemies, they simply show up) and info like damage and loud sounds are displayed visually.
All in all, save for the problematic-for-some old English dialogue, Octopath Traveler is one of the most accessible games we’ve played in a long time. And thanks to having to press a button to advance all dialogue, players that struggle with the weird words have plenty of time to figure out their meaning.
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