Deaf Game Review – Zombie Army 4: Dead War

Deaf Game Review – Zombie Army 4: Dead War

Courtney Craven4 minute read

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Zombie Army 4 Deaf Accessibility

Individual scores

  • Visual Representation of Dialogue - 8
  • Visual Representation of Sound - 5
  • Visual Cues - 7.5
  • Controller Vibration - 10
  • Visually Engaging - 8

Review copies courtesy of anonymous.

Game reviewed on Xbox One in solo mode only.

I’ll be honest here. I don’t care for zombies. I’ve been tired of them for quite a few years now. I’m ready to move on to the next popular baddie that will then be overdone for a decade. I had no plans to play Zombie Army 4, despite loving Strange Brigade and the Sniper series, for review or otherwise.

And then I was sent codes for the games and was asked to do a comparison review of Zombie Army Trilogy, released in 2015, and Zombie Army 4: Dead War. I still wasn’t excited but I like to give people what they want, so sure, I said I’d do it.

And then…sender of said codes told me two things:

  • There are outfits and hats for your characters in the new game.
  • Both games feature the bullet time x-ray cameras of the Sniper series.

Generally, all one must say to convince me I need a game is “outfits” but folks, I love the Sniper-style bullet time camera. I mean honestly, what is more satisfying that shooting a (video game) Nazi in the balls, in slow motion, and getting to watch in glorious x-ray detail the gory nature of your (video game) Nazi balls shooting? Nothing, that’s what. If the (video game) Nazis happen to be zombies, so be it. I’m still going to explode their body parts in very specific ways. I would play anything if it had the Sniper-style bullet camera, really.

First, I spent some time in Zombie Army Trilogy and, not surprisingly, I was thoroughly unimpressed with the deaf/hoh accessibility (no shade at Rebellion here, 2015 was a very different time when it comes to game accessibility). Zombie Army 4, while there is still room for improvement, at least offers more than its predecesor.

Illustrating the very small cinematic subtitles.

These subtitles are, well, they’re 2015 game subtitles, seemingly present only to be able to say the game has subtitles while not serving any purpose whatsoever. As for subtitle option, players have the option to turn them on and off.

Illustrating the largest subtitle size option.

In Zombie Army 4, players are given size options (though not nearly large enough options) as well as the ability to adjust the subtitle background, from no background at all to a full black background. On top of this, players can choose from several text colors.

The biggest problem Zombie Army Trilogy has regarding deaf/hoh accessibility is the complete lack of visual cues for environmental sounds, including those that are necessary to staying alive in the game.

Zombie Army Trilogy character inside a demolished home.

Above you see my character looting the remains of a house. What hearing players also get here is very obvious audio cues that they’re about to die when they step outside if they don’t get ready to shoot. Deaf/hoh players have no such indication.

Horde of zombies near the character.

Deaf/hoh players venture outside to a scene like this one with 10 zombies coming their way.

Zombie Army 4 remedies this, though only somewhat.

Illustrating the enemy presence visual indicator.

In 4, once enemies are within a certain distance, players will see a visual cue like the one shown above that indicates approximate distance and direction of the enemy.

Illustrating the lack of visual cues for all enemy sounds in 4.

However, 4 still lacks a necessary accessibility feature that would make for an equal playing experience. In the above image, my character is facing in the direction of her objective. Just off the screen, though not within range to hit me (yet) are three more enemies. Hearing players are made aware of this by the zombies groaning and can pick them off fairly easily with their rifle. Deaf/hoh players won’t likely know there are new enemies until their only combat option is melee or their secondary weapon, leaving them to take damage when it should have been avoidable.

All in all, while Zombie Army 4 made some significant improvement with accessibility, it still doesn’t provide an equitable experience for Deaf/hoh players and hearing players. However, the improvements that were made will make for a more enjoyable experience than that of Zombie Army Trilogy.

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Courtney Craven

Founder of CIPT and Director of Operations and Business Development. They/Them

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