The single best accessibility feature, for me, in Falcon age is that it’s a VR title that doesn’t require you to play it in VR. You can play it on your regular old PS4, which means I can actually play and review it! And God how I wanted to play it because who doesn’t want to care for an adorable baby falcon and get to watch her grow into a fierce companion and their BFF?
I mean look at her. You can do tricks with her. You can shake her hand and fist-bump her. You can twist her body around and watch her head do that weird stationary thing that birds do. You can feed her. And when you heal her, you get to see little hearts floating around her head.
If I haven’t sold you on Falcon Age yet, you must be hollow inside.
Anyway, onto the Deaf/hoh accessibility.
The only options related to sound in the menu are the volume sliders shown above. The game follows the popular JRPG trend of having some dialogue voiced, mostly short utterances, but most of it is displayed in text, so no subtitle options are really needed because all dialogue is presented as text anyway.
Size and legibility-wise, Falcon Age is great. The text is displayed against a dark background that also serves as a speech bubble so no speaker label is needed, and the size is large enough for most players.
Dialogue choices are equally legible, even more so, actually, as shown above.
The player character’s dialogue is never voiced and always displayed in orange text.
Another really helpful feature of the dialogue is that it’s push-x-to-advance. This comes in very handy in the few instances there’s a lot of text presented at once which would be easy to miss otherwise.
There was just one instance of inaccessibility I ran into and it happened very early on. The robot who guides you through the tutorial will say something over a speaker and it isn’t subtitled. Though the audible speech is quite muffled, hearing players still at least have the advantage of knowing something was said, even if they didn’t catch exactly what. In this one instance, I missed that I was supposed to return to my small room, though eventually I went back there anyway because I was unable to do anything else.
The mission objectives and tool tips are just as legible as the dialogue text and in the tutorial area, the mission objectives will reappear if you’ve delayed too long, which I found very helpful, as the robot speaks the instructions but that speech is not given subtitles.
While there is no visual indication of nearby sounds of things like enemies, the art style (I guess that’s what you could call it?) makes that not quite necessary, as much of the time, players will see a shadow and be alerted to an enemy’s presence in plenty of time to defend themselves. And, in fairness, when I was playing with my hearing aids in, I could hear the environment perfectly well and still had enemy surprise attacks. I guess robots move silently? My point is, not having visual cues for nearby enemies doesn’t put Deaf/hoh players at a disadvantage because they don’t have an audio cue either.
Overall, once you’ve gotten past the very brief tutorial area, Falcon Age is very accessible to Deaf/hoh players. And it’s damn cute game and at $20, well worth it despite the very minor misstep at the start.
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