Deaf Game Review – Life is Strange

Life is Strange Deaf Accessibility
4.6 / 6 Reviewer
Main dialogue is subtitled, Subtitles have a variety of size options and letterboxing
No speaker labels, Not all dialogue is subtitled which really detracts from the story
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues

Life is Strange is, as far as we can tell, a game about the word “hella.”

There are hella white kids, there’s hella teen angst, there’s even a girl that says “hella” while having a gun held to her abdomen.

Subtitles option screen

There are hella subtitle options.

Teacher talking to Max inside classroom with no speaker label on subtitles.

Even at their default size setting, the subtitles are hella big.

Subtitle showing Max's inner monologue, walking down locker lined school hallway.

And the difference between spoken dialogue and the angsty inner monologue is hella clear, thanks to italics.

Max's inner monologue subtitles, sitting inside photography classroom.

It’s also hella ableist and clings to shitty tropes when discussing mental health.

Wide view of teacher talking to entire class, subtitles show no speaker labels.

What doesn’t Life is Strange have? Speaker labels. That’s what. We know Life is Strange was the first game to offer size options and it also offered a novel-at-the-time letterboxing option to make the text more legible, but they didn’t include one of the most basic accessibility features that makes a story-heavy game like this comprehensible for deaf players. You play through the whole game and unless there is only one character on the screen, you have no clue who is speaking, which makes the whole experience fall flat.

Is Life is Strange playable for deaf and hoh players? Yes, absolutely. But you may find it a bit difficult to follow due to the lack of speaker labels, despite hella options for subtitles otherwise in this very story-rich game.

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