FUSER — Can I Play That Deaf/Hard of Hearing Review

FUSER is a new game from the makers of Rock Band and Dance Central in which players take on the role of a new DJ and create mixes from an ever-growing catalog of music, spanning countless genres and many decades. Now you might be wondering why on earth I’m writing a deaf/hoh review for a music game. It doesn’t seem like a game that would be particularly accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing people. That assumption would be incorrect though! Deafness is a spectrum and we all love a nice jam. 2021 has started off in the most disastrous of ways and I really needed to just sit there and make some bops by mixing Rick Astly, Ace of Base, Donna Summer, and Dolly Parton.

In addition to being able to make your own mixes, FUSER is a management sim of sorts. While making your mixes in campaign mode, you have to meet the needs of your audience to keep them interested in you.

Illustrating the requests and desires of the audience shown in small dialogue boxes near the bottom of the screen.

Audience members will tell you what they want in small dialogue pop-ups. It’s your job to give them what they want within the time frame indicated on the dialogue box while keeping in line with what would be a “perfect” spot to drop the new track.

Those perfect spots are indicated by colored dots on the mix progress bar — Blue/X for a bass track, Red/B/Circle for a vocal track, etc. The only problem?

Illustrating the tiny dots to indicate the appropriate time to drop a track.
Image from the IGN review of FUSER

Those dots are TINY. See those little red and green dots along the bar in the above image? That’s it. And there’s no option to scale them to make them actually visible. Dropping the tracks at precisely the right moment to score a great or perfect drop can be tricky (which is the point, I know) but it could still be tricky in an accessible way with slightly larger dots. Or at least the option to have slightly larger dots.

I don’t have a SUBPAC but I imagine FUSER would be even more fun to play, especially as a Deaf or hard of hearing person, with one. If anyone has played with one, I’d love to hear how it was.

FUSER is a fun game but it feels like one that was made with a very specific player in mind; a hearing player. And that’s such a shame because music and rhythm games can actually be accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing players if designed with more than one end user in mind.

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Courtney Craven

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

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