Game reviewed on PS4.
WELL. Hunt: Showdown manages to fail deaf/hoh accessibility in nearly every way possible. It’s not often I get to say that because usually there’s at least something I can give a game credit for. Not this time though.
Hunt: Showdown is a game fresh out of Xbox game preview that has just had its full release. In it, you play as a magical bounty hunter with special sight abilities that allow you to track magical monsters in the post-Civil War south. I got super put off during my time with the game when some of the enemies appeared to be zombified Black characters wearing a device used to torture enslaved people in real life. In a game with zombies and magic, I have some questions about why that particular bit of realism was put in the game, but it’s not an accessibility issue, so I’ll just leave that there as a thing to know.
As a deaf or hard of hearing person launching a game for the first time, what’s the first thing you do? Probably go to settings to tweak volume and subtitles and such. Good luck finding the settings menu.
Do you see it anywhere? No? Finding the settings could be a whole game in itself. See that tiny little wagon wheel looking thing up in the top right corner? If you hover the cursor (Another terrible design decision. Nobody likes having to use a cursor to navigate a very complex set of pages and menus on console.) that little wagon wheel will grow ever so slightly brighter. Clicking it beings up the next disappointment:
This game, in which half of the gameplay is cooperation, only has VOIP. Can’t use VOIP? Need text chat? Too bad for you. Which is an interesting choice considering that this game launched in 2020 and the CVAA has been in effect for a while now. I’d also like to note a problem here that plagues so many games – the tiny tiny menus when there is ample screen space to make it bigger and legible. There is no reason to not use all of the screen real estate. For the love of God, game devs, stop making tiny menus like this.
Ok, on to the actual gameplay. Before that though, I have to note that even thinking about how this game works gives me anxiety. If your character dies during the match, that’s it. You’ve lost them and all your gear. But don’t worry, you can easily buy more with real money in this microtransaction hell. And then you can lose that too.
Given this, you can understand my frustration at having died no less than 30 seconds into my very first match because there was a powerful enemy in the pitch black game world that I would have known about, if only I had heard it.
The above image wasn’t due to an issue with my TV, the brightness was set according to the calibration instructions, the game was just that dark, so players relying on spotting an enemy because the game doesn’t bother to visualize sound will basically find the game unplayable.
Thankfully playing back my recorded but of gameplay with my hearing aids in told me what wen’t wrong. The enemy had been buzzing well before I was within range. I could have avoided it. If there was sound visualization.
Instead, the game didn’t visualize anything until the Hive was right on top of me and I couldn’t do anything but die.
That’s it, game over, I’ve lost my hunter and gear permanently because accessibility apparently isn’t a thing in Hunt: Showdown.
There’s one nice feature to mention, though I didn’t actually get to experience it on account of the immediate death.
This (unnecessarily tiny) tool tip telling players that in this one specific part of the game, there is sound and visualization is literally the only good thing I can say about Hunt: Showdown.
I can very comfortably say that Hunt: Showdown is one to skip for deaf/hoh players. The game lacks accessibility options in such a major way that many will struggle to play it successfully at all.
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