Announced at The Game Awards, Harmonium The Musical is an upcoming game with d/Deaf representation and accessibility in mind. Developer The Odd Gentlemen worked with writers, designers, artists, and animators from the Deaf community to authentically present Melody’s story.
This Melody Macato is a 10 year old Filipina-American girl. Melody became Deaf very young, and wants to create music her friends can feel and see. In other words: music accessible to all. In this process, Melody finds herself pulled into the world of Harmonium. Here she must face the evil force Cacophony, and defeat it with a masterpiece symphony.
The game is set to use sign language and other non-verbal communication in its gameplay mechanics. But rest assured, players do not need to have experience with sign language to be able to play the game. As the trailer shows, the music features a visual language and animated subtitles. There are characters who fully communicate through ASL (American Sign Language), and subtitles and captions are customizable. Unsurprisingly for the theme, d/Deaf accessibility seems to be core to the game and no gameplay relies on audio alone.
On the accessibility page for Harmonium, we find a list of features covering many aspects of accessibility. This includes screen narration with volume settings, and all visuals have distinct audio corresponding to them. Like audio, no information is indicated by color alone, which should help color blind players. Players can scale text, and enlarge or remove the UI and HUD (User Interface and Heads Up Display).
Controls in Harmonium are remappable, and players can change holds to taps and toggles. There are no required time limits either, which should help the mobility and cognitive accessibility of the game.
Players can review objectives and narrative at any time, and the game features a hint system to help players progress. A glowing mode for interactive objects makes it easier to see those in game. Lastly, the gameplay should be motion sickness friendly, and avoids flashing and flickering.
Harmonium The Musical seems to by a unique, and ambitious projects. It will be interesting to see and hear how well this plays out. I for one, am excited to learn more!