Deaf Game Review – Bless Unleashed

Game reviewed on Xbox One

Find hand pain info at the end of the post.

Game reviewed on Xbox One Find hand pain info at the end of the post.   Bless this mess. Truly. It's a gorgeous game that has everything I want in an MMORPG. Gathering, outfits, side quests, mounts, outfits, different races and classes with a cat-people class! But friends, it's such a mess. Accessibility wise it's bordering on unplayable, which is why it'll be the first game to incorporate our new hand pain content! Because wow does it cause some hand pain! In terms of deaf/hoh accessibility, it's alright. The subtitles are not great. Really not great. You can turn them…
Despite some atrocious subtitles, Bless Unleashed is a fairly accessible game for Deaf/hoh players thanks to its helpful minimap and nearby enemy indicators.

Bless Unleashed Deaf Accessibility

Visual Representation of Dialogue - 5
Visual Cues - 10
Controller Vibration - 8
Visually Engaging - 10
Player Communication - 8

8.2

Despite some atrocious subtitles, Bless Unleashed is a fairly accessible game for Deaf/hoh players thanks to its helpful minimap and nearby enemy indicators.

Bless this mess. Truly. It’s a gorgeous game that has everything I want in an MMORPG. Gathering, outfits, side quests, mounts, outfits, different races and classes with a cat-people class! But friends, it’s such a mess. Accessibility wise it’s bordering on unplayable, which is why it’ll be the first game to incorporate our new hand pain content! Because wow does it cause some hand pain!

In terms of deaf/hoh accessibility, it’s alright. The subtitles are not great. Really not great. You can turn them off (they default to on which is a win!)

Illustrating the illegible cinematic subtitles.

Above are the cinematic subtitles during one of the many instances in which contrast was a problem. Also a problem? The size. Nobody wants to play a game with their TV in their lap.

Illustrating the dialogue subtitles.

Somehow, the dialogue subtitles manage to have a contrast problem, even with a background. And again, the size. This should be the smallest size of several options available, not the only size.

Perhaps one of the most annoying accessibility issues in Bless Unleashed is the way the dialogue is presented – one slowly scrolling letter at a time and the only way to speed it up is not with a button tap like most games in this style, but a very long button hold. Even then, the text doesn’t appear instantly, it’s simply slightly sped up in its scrolling.

Illustrating the floating dialogue subtitles.

There’s a third presentation of subtitles that’s really not great, which is the above dreaded floating dialogue. It’s tiny, there’s no background, and it can be hard to follow.

Subtitles aside, for Deaf/hoh players, Bless Unleashed does quite well for an open world game. There’s a minimap that shows all enemies in an area, so no sneak attacks! The voice acting is minimal aside from the cinematics, which makes the subtitles a problem for everybody, not just Deaf/hoh players, so at least there’s that? The chat is accessible, though unfortunately there’s no way to turn it off as far as I can tell, so it’s there to clutter your screen even if you hate it as much as I do.

Okay, on to the hand pain stuff!

Illustrating the required bumper/trigger mashing in the game's tutorial.

Within the first few minutes of the tutorial, you will be required, no matter what control scheme you choose, to mash all four bumpers and triggers.

Illustrating the button mashing for all combat.

Up in the top left corner, you see that little chart of buttons? That’s the basic combos for all combat. The buttons vary from class to class but remain essentially the same throughout. Repeated rapid button or trigger pressing is required for all combat and all classes.

As I mentioned above, Bless Unleashed will be totally unplayable for many due to the combat style. I want to love this game so badly but it’s hard to love a game, no matter how pretty and great it is, when it causes you pain that could be easily avoided if only they allowed for controller remapping and had chosen a slightly more simplified control scheme.

Required button mashing?

Yes

OTEs?

Yes

Remappable controls?

No

Control scheme options?

Yes, five of them

Stick clicks required?

Yes

Required button holds?

Yes, for up to five seconds

Aim assistance?

Yes, you can target and lock on to enemies

Tap/Hold toggles?

No, all combat is rapid-pressing and holds are not able to be changed to taps.

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