Deaf Game Review – Wolfenstein

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Wolfenstein Deaf Accessibility

Individual scores

  • Visual Representation of Dialogue - 0.8
  • Visual Representation of Sound - 2.5
  • Visual Cues - 4.2
  • Controller Vibration - 6.7
Above scores were automatically converted from 0-6 scale to a 0-10 scale.

This review was originally for The Old Blood but having played through some of The New Order and The New Colossus, the information applies to all three. The only difference between The Old Blood and The New Order, and The New Colossus, is that in The New Colossus, the subtitles actually got even worse.

The Wolfenstein series of games about killing Nazis. You kill the Nazis, their Nazi robots, and blow up all of their Nazi things. It’s an ideal plot, really, because there’s truly nothing more satisfying in a game, is there? And gameplay-wise, that’s essentially all you need to know. Shoot at the Nazis, kill the Nazis, repeat.

Deaf accessibility-wise (and just accessibility in general) though, the games aren’t great, which is a shame but I do still enjoy the video game Nazi shooting fun.

BJ sleeping in a convertible, UI text on screen to the left.

The UI text is nice and big and legible, so you would think the subtitle text could have been this big too, no?

Prison stairwell, illegible subtitles shown on screen.
Nazi castle interior, illegible subtitles shown on screen.

Nope. No luck there. Not only are they microscopic, they’re also impossible to read much of the time because they have no background.

Obscured view of a prison hallway.

Another major issue for the game is the lack of visualization for sounds during times when stealth is required. In the above scene, you’re hiding from giant Nazi robots who can kill you with a couple hits and you have to listen to know when it’s safe to sneak and disable them. Problem is, by the time they’re within your line of sight, they’ve seen you too and you’ll probably die very soon. The sound is paired with controller vibration but it’s not varied enough in intensity to really determine the enemy’s distance.

There’s this “signal detected” display that you’ll see on occasion but to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what it’s for or what it’s supposed to tell you because, to the best of my knowledge, the game never exactly explains what the signal is. But it’s at least some kind of sound visualization, so I suppose it counts for something, even if I can’t say what.

One very helpful feature I didn’t manage to catch a screenshot of is the visual indication that an enemy has thrown a grenade at you.

The biggest issue with this game, aside from the horrendous subtitles, is the fact that it’s a shooter game but in order to have any clue where enemies are, you have to either see them or hear them and for Deaf/hoh players, that makes the game a lot harder than it needs to be.

While the game is still perfectly playable (and let’s be honest, fun for the reasons mentioned above) if you want to know the story or not have to guess as to where the wide array of enemies are, Wolfenstein isn’t the game for you.

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Courtney Craven

Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

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