Deaf Game Review – The Surge 2

Coty Craven5 minute read

A frustrating experience with tiny and inconsistent subtitles and a complete lack of visual cues to match audio cues.


6.3 out of 10

Game reviewed on Xbox One

There’s a trend in recent game series of improving general accessibility and at the very least, improving subtitles. Nearly every sequel of every game released in the past two years seems to have taken note that a11y standards exist and at least try their best to implement them.

Not The Surge 2 though! They wanted to be different, I guess, and by different, I mean the things that were a problem in the first game haven’t changed a bit in the second. Judging by the terrible UI design of the settings menus you see before you even play any of the game, I might even say it’s gotten worse. Why on earth would you choose to have a black and white animated backdrop for your menus when all of your text is white?

Gameplay options menu

It took me four attempts capture the above shot on a very brief pure black screen so that you could even see all of the text.

The audio options appear to be just copied and pasted from the first game in the series and only allow for subtitles to be turned on or off. No size options here.

And this game desperately needs size options.

Opening cinematic shown in letterbox style with tiny subtitle text.

Here’s the opening cinematic. If you lean in real close and squint, maybe you can read it.

White screen with white subtitle text.

And here’s this gem. A white screen with white subtitle text which happens far too often in games. Text shadows don’t help as much as you seem to think they do, game devs. At least not when said text is microscopic.

Opening cinematic with a different style of subtitle text displayed on a dark bar.

Above, we’re still in the opening scene and the subtitles are still tiny, but they’re displayed with a dark bar behind them which makes them slightly easier to read. It is endlessly annoying though that subtitles are displayed in multiple different ways. I know there’s always a reason for this, in terms of the game’s development, but I also know that I don’t care. Somebody put that dark bar behind the text for a reason, maybe do it with ALL the text, yeah?

Dialogue choices screen.

The dialogue options aren’t any better.

Illustrating subtitles with far too many characters per line.

The last subtitle issue is illustrated above. I caption things for a living, I know automatic line breaks are easy and sometimes necessary if you’re on a tight schedule. But come on… this whole long string of words (which is far too many characters per line) and one word on the second line?

Player character standing in a room full of TVs on but no subtitles.

Above, we’ve got our player character in a room full of screens, presumably making some sort of noise. (There is an audible voice in this scene, though I don’t know if it’s from a speaker or one of the screens.) Hope Deaf/hoh players didn’t want to know what’s being said though, because it’s not subtitled. There are also multiple instances of nearby enemies saying something to you, which in many cases was my only indication they were there, but it also isn’t subtitled. But sometimes it is. I’ve yet to figure out precisely what triggers some subtitles to display but not others, because it’s definitely not your proximity to the enemy. Maybe it’s a bug, maybe it’s a feature, your guess is as good as mine.

Player character in a room with two TV screens and a tiny speaker icon shown on them.

Another odd design choice is shown above. If you look at the TV screens in the image, you might notice the little speaker icon on them? That guy you see is talking but in order to see subtitles, you have to get close to the screens and hold X.

The Surge 2 has the honor of having the most inconsistent subtitles I’ve seen in recent memory.

Other issues include the game being open world, full of enemies hearing players can hear but have no matching visual cue. I died about a hundred times and half of that was because I had no idea an enemy was nearby (the other half is because my fingers are too creaky and slow and painful to actually be able to play this game).

I had hoped The Surge 2 would follow other recently released games in at the very least, offering more subtitle options than on and off. So launching the game and seeing that every Deaf/hoh accessibility issue that existed in the first game was still there in the second was massively disappointing.

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CravenFormer Director of Operations and Workshop FacilitatorThey/Them

Founder of CIPT and former Director of Operations and Business Development. He/They

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