Deaf Game Review – Frostpunk

Game reviewed on Xbox One

Game reviewed on Xbox One Frostpunk is a world-building simulation strategy game. It's a genre I generally avoid as I'm not usually into these types of games but I've become hooked on this rather quickly. It was recently added to Game Pass for console on Xbox One so I decided to check it out because the premise interested me and I have a bit of a steampunk fandom. The premise is the world in an a reimagined steampunk version of the Industrial Revolution era. Britain has been thrust into an apocalyptic winter and you are tasked with leading a band…
Overall, I didn't feel at all hindered by my deafness while playing it. The amount of cinematic story that required subtitles is so brief that having adjustable sizing would have limited effect on it. And the default size isn't so small that you need to squint to try and read it. The only real issue I could see improving accessibility is maybe some UI options that could give a player the ability to increase the size of gameplay-related on-screen text, but personally I had no issues with the default size.

Frostpunk Deaf Accessibility

Visual Representation of Dialogue - 9
Visual Cues - 10
Controller Vibration - 10
Visually Engaging - 10

9.8

Overall, I didn't feel at all hindered by my deafness while playing it. The amount of cinematic story that required subtitles is so brief that having adjustable sizing would have limited effect on it. And the default size isn't so small that you need to squint to try and read it. The only real issue I could see improving accessibility is maybe some UI options that could give a player the ability to increase the size of gameplay-related on-screen text, but personally I had no issues with the default size.

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Frostpunk is a world-building simulation strategy game. It’s a genre I generally avoid as I’m not usually into these types of games but I’ve become hooked on this rather quickly. It was recently added to Game Pass for console on Xbox One so I decided to check it out because the premise interested me and I have a bit of a steampunk fandom.

The premise is the world in an a reimagined steampunk version of the Industrial Revolution era. Britain has been thrust into an apocalyptic winter and you are tasked with leading a band of survivors to a massive heat generator and your job is to keep that generator running and build a new civilization and survive increasingly harsh winter weather conditions with fluctuations in temperature that progressively gets colder. To get through it you’ll have to make difficult decisions, enact questionable laws, and decide what type of leader you’ll be. Without a firm grasp on your people and their needs they will cast you out, banishing you to die alone in the frigid cold. Game over.

It’s an intense survival strategy with little room for error. 

As for accessibility for deaf gamers, there isn’t much of a need for subtitles. There is an opening cinematic pictured below, that has small, but not microscopic subtitles that are easy to read if you’re not sitting too far away from your screen. The scene is presented in a letterbox format with the subtitles appearing as white in the lower black bar so there’s no issues with contrast. Unfortunately the subtitles don’t have any size adjustable options, but I personally was fine with them as is.

Example of subtitles.

Other than the opening scene, gameplay doesn’t really have dialogue except for pop, up boxes of characters commenting on their general mood or giving opinions on the decisions you’ve made shown below.

Attitude of citizens toward you, the leader.

As you can see from the last 2 screenshots I posted, gameplay has a lot of on screen text however that is considerably smaller and may be harder to see for some players, but at the distance I usually sit from my 50 inch 4K TV while gaming I didn’t personally have any issues with being able to see it.

There is absolutely no visual representation of sounds. So I couldn’t comment on that, but didn’t really feel any need for it either. The rumble of the vibration in your controller alerts you to gameplay elements such as changing of the temperature, or a story element to open that gives you decisions to make that affects the game. There’s also plenty of visual icons that quickly become familiar that notify you of elements that require your attention, like your scout team arriving at a directed destination, or your research team completing a project that will unlock new equipment and abilities.

Controller vibrates when large icons like the one shown here pop up on the screen. It's a notification of a story element like a decision needed to be made like the example below.
Controller vibrates when large icons like the one shown here pop up on the screen. It’s a notification of a story element like a decision needed to be made like the example below.
Example of text in a story based decision.

I mentioned above that there’s a lot of on screen text. That’s an understatement, as you can see from the photos above. There’s text for pretty much everything. It’s small, but I had no problem reading it. I’ll post a few examples below.

Equipment and ability unlocks through "Research". The darker shaded ones can't be unlocked until you unlock the number on the left side of the column.
Equipment and ability unlocks through “Research”. The darker shaded ones can’t be unlocked until you unlock the number on the left side of the column.
Tree of legislative decisions you make as leader of the city that ultimately shape the kind of leaders you will become.
Tree of legislative decisions you make as leader of the city that ultimately shape the kind of leaders you will become.
Building mode wheel and options.
Building mode wheel and options.
Highlighting and clicking on things like this pile of steel wreckage here pulls up menu options for assigning people to work on salvaging it and other information.
Highlighting and clicking on things like this pile of steel wreckage here pulls up menu options for assigning people to work on salvaging it and other information.
A page from the tutorial information.
A page from the tutorial information.

Overall I give Frostpunk a 9 for deaf accessibility. I didn’t feel at all hindered by my deafness while playing it. The amount of cinematic story that required subtitles is so brief that having adjustable sizing would have limited effect on it. And the default size isn’t so small that you need to squint to try and read it. The only real issue I could see improving accessibility is maybe some UI options that could give a player the ability to increase the size of gameplay-related on-screen text, but personally I had no issues with the default size.

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Troy Beissel

Deaf. Single Dad. Atheist. Gamer. My days are frequently spent playing Xbox and guzzling Mountain Dew. I can often be found streaming my gameplay on Mixer (http://mixer.com/DeafAtheist) or posting about politics and gaming on Twitter @DeafAtheist

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