God of War Deaf Accessibility
Score8.5 out of 10
- All dialogue is subtitles, speaker labels, subtitle background, helpful visual cues, excellent controller vibration to mirror sounds
- The game would really benefit from captioning as many atmospheric sounds aid in immersion, largest subtitle size may be too small for some
Somehow we failed to do a review for God of War when it was first released. I’m going to blame it on the fact that the game is just so damn pretty.
The game has been out for a while so I won’t bore you with a summary. Besides, half the time I’m bumbling around trying to solve one of the many puzzles or standing there, mouth hanging open because it’s just so pretty, so I’m not sure I know the story.
So how’s the Deaf accessibility?
Well, comparing it to other games that came around the same time, it’s pretty great. I mean, it’s got a dedicated accessibility menu! Comparing it to recent releases, it’s…fine. (Yes that much has changed in just a year.)
Above, you’ve got your two options menus under which you’ll find various settings for Deaf/HoH accessibility. In audio options, you’ve got your volume sliders for different things and the ability to toggle on subtitles. In the accessibility menu, you’ll find settings for subtitle background and speaker labels, as well as a slider for subtitle text size. Why aren’t they with the subtitle toggle setting? That’s a good question.
The above image is the largest available size subtitle text size. Not nearly large enough for people in need of large subtitles. But let’s discuss another important thing shown in this image. The speaker tag says “Hidden Man” indicating that the person speaking is not visible. This is a necessary bit of subtitling, as players will hear exactly that; a distant voice of someone off-screen.
But why is this the one and only occurrence I’ve run into of off-screen subtitling when it’s far from the only occurrence of hearing speakers off-screen (and speaking much more clearly than the Hidden Man Distant Voice).
In the above scene, players hear a a sound (and a very important one, as it’s a fairly powerful enemy they’re about to be surprised by) but there are no captions for the sound.
Atreus even asks his father about it. But nope, no captioning for it.
As annoying as this is, it doesn’t render the game unplayable. It just renders it nearly the millionth game that has a character reference a sound that’s not given captions.
A very helpful feature which I was unable to capture on account of being pummeled and dying every time I tried are the combat directional indicators. Color coded icons (white for a nearby enemy, red when you’re about to be hit, and fuchsia for incoming projectiles) that display where the enemies are. Given that this is a linear game as opposed to an open world, there aren’t really any surprise attacks to speak of and thanks to the helpful combat directional icons even for enemies behind you, Deaf/HoH players will never find themselves being caught off guard.
It’s also worth noting that God of War has what I am inclined to call the best representation of sound via controller vibration of any game I’ve played thus far.
All in all, despite the largest subtitles still being too small and a few missteps in captioning/visualizing important sounds, God of War excels in its Deaf’HoH accessibility, particularly for a game released in early 2018.