Half-Life: Alyx Deaf Accessibility
Score7.7 out of 10
Time for me to do my first review of a VR game here on CanIPlayThat. We all know that the VR platform is problematic at the very least when it comes to general accessibility of the devices as well as the games given its such a new space. We will probably go into more thoughts on VR/AR as a whole at a later time but I’m bringing you a quick look at Deaf/HoH review of Half-Life: Alyx. I’ll also briefly cover some of the other accessibility options that are available in the game as some of the community has been asking about it.
First off, as some context, this was played on a Valve Index so I utilized their finger sensors for some of the controls and I cannot comment on how this maps to other devices like Oculus or Vive where motion or control accessibility becomes a concern for you.
At a high level, the game provides you quite a few options for accessibility compared to most of the other VR games I’ve played to date. I’ve shared screenshots below for those of you interested.
Let’s get started:
First lets look at the accessibility options as well as the subtitle options. All pictures below are directly from the game. There’s a one handed option, variety of stand/crouch options (so you can toggle crouch/stand if you are otherwise unable to). And fairly standard subtitle options including, size, speed, and on/off.
All are very good options to have in the game and they work quite nicely. There’s also a variety of locomotion options- blink, slide, continuous motion (both hand based and head based), and they are still adding more as time goes on.
Now onto the subtitles in the game itself. The subtitles are hands down the best VR representation of subtitles I’ve seen to date. A lot of my frustration with subtitles in VR usually stem from how they’re placed in the world. Either its in an awkward spot that makes it hard to read or they’re super elastic and spring all over the place or too fixed and I can’t move it. This approach kind of takes the middle ground in that if it goes too far out of view it’ll quickly snap to a new location that’s readable and stays there until it otherwise is forced out. Also, speakers in this game are represented via multiple colors, but there’s no specific name associated with them so it may take a bit of figuring out who is what color. But they are otherwise very very readable.
It is unfortunate though that with valve’s usual historic excellence with presenting sound effects as subtitles in this game, that does not seem to be an option here and all subtitles are limited to spoken lines only. No other audible cues (zombie groans, etc.) appear to be subtitled. Other than that there’s no visual cues that are needed for audio, in game items are highlighted when you point at them so you know what you can use your gravity gloves with.
Beyond that, game play is a blast and the game looks really really really really good and I had not expected any less from Valve’s own properties. Zombies look particularly gross up close in this game and the environments are very interesting to look at as you move through the quarantine zone.