Deaf Game Review – Vampyr

Deaf Game Review – Vampyr

Can I Play That?6 minute read

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Vampyr Deaf Accessibility

Individual scores

  • Visual Representation of Dialogue - 6.7
  • Visual Representation of Sound - 8.3
  • Visual Cues - 10
  • Controller Vibration - 10
Above scores were automatically converted from 0-6 scale to a 0-10 scale.

In Vampyr, you play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a new vampire. You’re also a surgeon, apparently a renowned one, and you save lives for a living. Or you did before you became a vampire. And maybe you still will now, if that’s how you want to play the game. That’s the great thing (one of the many) about Vampyr. You can kill and drink innocent blood all willy nilly and sprint your way through leveling up, you can be like Dexter and only kill people that you deem deserving of it, or you can continue to be a saintly doctor and try not to kill anyone ever. The world reacts to how you decide to play. I won’t spoil any more of the game than that.

I was worried about this game being a disappointment after seeing on Twitter that someone had asked if the NPCs would be subtitled and the developer said no, they wouldn’t be. That being the case, we got this game solely because Cortney wanted to play it. I lost interest after seeing yet another game wouldn’t be fully accessible.

BUT… They seem to have fixed this problem, as every single NPC I ran into during my couple of hours in the game was fully subtitled. Even ambient chatter from nearby NPCs is subtitled when you’re within earshot. Vampyr is incredibly accessible for deaf players.

Subtitle options screen

Let’s start with the menu: You can change the text size and decide if you want speaker names on or off (I don’t know why you’d want speaker names off if you’re using subs but to each their own, I guess). The size doesn’t get bigger than medium, but for me, medium is plenty large.

Black and white cutscene showing the subtitle text size
Jonathan talking with NPC in a hotel room. Image depicts subtitles with poor contrast that are hard to read.
Jonathan in factory hallway, image depicts difficult to read subtitles due to poor contrast.

Here’s three shots of subtitles. One of them is clear and easy to read, the other is not the best, and the last is really not good. White and brownish text against light and brownish backgrounds made it difficult to read the subs on occasion, but luckily you’re a vampire and most of what you do is in the dark. (I still hope they offer a fix for this though because it’s not cool.)

Dialogue scene with three options highlighted.

Dialogue options (of which there are many, as every NPC you come across is someone you can chat up) are slightly smaller than the subtitles, but they’re also a bit more bold and on a gray background, so still easy to see.

Black and white image of Jonathan. Image illustrating the issue of the game lacking full captions.

Besides the white on light subtitles, the only other issue I had with the game is that it’s not fully captioned. In the image above, the doc is going through some things and making noises that indicate that. Captions would really help with immersion in the story here, and in many places because the game, I’m told, has fantastic ambient noises.

Jonathan in vampire sight mode. Bright red blood train shows path to objective.
Hand icon indicating an object can be collected.
Enemy health, level, and visibility indicators.

The visual cues, especially those while using vampire sight, are fantastic. In vampire sight mode, you often can follow blood trails and see points you can vampire-teleport to in a cloud of black smoke. Every item you can collect or interact with has an icon and many things have a subtle flash of light that streaks across them as you approach them, so they’re hard to miss. Enemies outside of vampire sight mode, once spotted and you’re near enough, have a health bar and their level is indicated (and see the subtitles for them even though I’m still a ways away? Yay!)

Vampire sight mode showing NPC info card.
Vampire sight mode showing objective location highlighted by bright red blood.

Now vampire site mode (and I’m sure I’m not using the correct term for it but just go with it) is what makes this easily the most accessible game I’ve played thus far. Not only are you presented with bright red visual cues, you can also see enemies through walls and floors AND get all the info you need on them, including vulnerabilities and when not looking to stay alive or kill someone, you get helpful info on the NPCs in this mode as well (such as how much XP you’ll get from biting them and stealing all their blood).

Updated to include info on lore text size

In-game collected document screen. Document on the right, text of the document on the right.

While the lore you come across isn’t spoken, so this is one of those instances where all players, hearing and not, are equally screwed and squinting at the TV screen, the text size for the lore, including posters such as this one that you don’t really need a text description of, and handwritten letters that require you read the text description, is super super tiny and is not adjustable.

All in all, even with the rare incidents of white on light subtitles, there’s really nothing that keeps me from recommending this game 100% for deaf/hoh players because what it lacks in outright accessibility is easily made up for in vampire sight mode. The subtitles are mostly well done, the visual cues are spectacular and fit in seamlessly with the game, and I’d even wager that vampire sight gives deaf players an advantage, as Cortney said sounds are amplified and disorienting in this mode. If you were excited about Vampyr but hesitant about it due to accessibility, don’t be. Go get it!

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