Two Point Hospital Deaf Accessibility
The bottom line: Two Point Hospital is fun and totally playable for deaf and hoh players. You don't need sound to play or enjoy the game. However the lack of any subtitling strips the game of most of its humor and we miss out on a LOT of what makes the game enjoyable.
Score5.6 out of 10
- Great visual indicators,
- No need for sound to play the game and be successful
- None of the dialogue is subtitled, removing much of the game's personality for deaf/hoh players
Let’s get a couple things out of the way before I dig into the review:
- I love a good management sim game. Especially ones that let me (badly) build things.
- I never played Theme Hospital, the game this one was billed as a modern improvement on, so I had no expectations concerning that going into Two Point Hospital.
- I spend most of my life at the doctor’s and the hospital, so I was looking forward to a humorous take on running my own.
Did I get what I was hoping for in point #3? Not so much.
I did get a very well-done hospital management sim. The art style is cute, the variety of illnesses and injuries your patients suffer from are absurd, which does add to the humor factor, and the different levels/hospital locations are unique enough to feel like you’re making progress as you build your hospital empire. What I appreciate the most about Two Point Hospital is your staff seems smart enough to fill in on a job that needs doing. You never have to micro-manage if you don’t want to.
Where Two Point Hospital fails completely is in delivering what I’m told is a hilarious game due to the radio DJ and person speaking on the loudspeaker to deaf and hoh players. Not one bit of this is subtitled, leaving Two Point Hospital, for me anyway, being just another personality-less business/management sim (save for the amusing variety of illnesses you see).
A new game starts with a short intro cinematic. It’s not subtitled.
You’re then introduced to the area in which you’ll start your game. Except not if you’re deaf because this isn’t subtitled either.
If I didn’t love this type of game so much (and I hadn’t pre-ordered it from Humblebundle) this would have been more than enough for me to request a refund on Steam.
Perhaps the most irritating thing concerning the lack of subtitles though, is when playing the game, the announcer will tell you when a member of your staff is needed somewhere. If your receptionist has taken a break and you’ve got people lining up, you’ll hear an announcement. If you need a doctor in cardiology and your only three doctors are otherwise occupied, the announcer lady will tell you. Now there are visual indicators of these needs as well but if you’re zoomed in and that area isn’t within your view, you’ll never know.
The visual cues/icons are great:
You’ll see when people are cured (the little heart icon), when you’ve got a VIP touring the hospital (the crown), and when a patient dies (the skull), among a whole host of other self-explanatory icons. The problem is that each of these icons comes with a unique sound alerting hearing players to whatever success or failure they’ve just had. Do you need these sounds to play the game? No. Will missing a notification that a patient has died cause a failure your hospital can’t recover from? No.
The problem is mostly one of frustration with the constant issue of auditory alerts (no matter how important they are or are not) not being given an equally obvious visual indication. If I want to catch very single alert a hearing player would get, I have to play zoomed out all the way so I’m able to see my entire hospital. I don’t want to do that because a) that’s not my preferred way to play, and b) I love the art style of this game and want to be able to enjoy the details. Being zoomed out all the way really limits that.
I’ve said it a million times before, and I’m sure I’ll say it a million more times:
If you have something in a game important enough to have an audio alert, it”s important enough to be given an equally clear visual indication. If you can’t manage this, at least be up front about it and put a disclaimer on your game’s site: Not intended for deaf/hoh players. Give your money to someone that cares about you.
The bottom line: Two Point Hospital is fun and totally playable for deaf and hoh players. You don’t need sound to play or enjoy the game. However the lack of any subtitling strips the game of most of its humor and we miss out on a LOT of what makes the game enjoyable.