Deaf Game Review – Spider-Man

Spider-Man Deaf Accessibility
4.9 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
Subtitles with size and background options, Speaker tags, Helpful visual cues, Controller vibration to match intensity of many sounds
Cons
NPCs talking to Spider-Man aren't captioned, Radar sounds aren't given a visual indicator
All in all, Spider-Man is a very accessible game for deaf/hoh players. It's clear they put consideration and effort into giving us a comparable experience to that of our hearing peers and it's nice to see that accessibility wasn't simply an afterthought, as it so often seems to be for many games. Even with the minor oversights, it remains a welcoming experience for deaf/hoh players.
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

A lot of people have been eagerly awaiting the release of Spider-Man, all of us with different hopes and expectations for one of the most anticipated games of the year. I’m very happy to be able to say that when it comes to my expectations as a Deaf player, Insomniac did not let me down. Not only is it one of the best deaf-accessible games I’ve played, it’s just a damn good game and the accessibility options are right there to greet you at the start of the game.

That’s right, there’s a dedicated accessibility menu not even tucked away as a sub-menu. It’s just right there, as if to say, “Welcome, disabled players!”

Difficulty options screen
"Before you start" options screen
Accessibility options screen

Below are the subtitles with the background turned on, in both the default and big size options:

Peter holding his phone listening to police dispatch
Movement tutorial. Spider-Man is talking on the phone to Yuri.

Every line of speech is paired with a speaker tag and different speakers are distinctly separated, making it much easier than usual to follow conversations during cinematic scenes.

Still of a fight scene with visual indicator that Spider-Man is about to be hit.

Another game mechanic that’s not accessibility per se, but I found to be incredibly beneficial when fighting a mob of enemies, is the Spidey Sense (the burst around Spider-Man’s head in the above image). It tells you when you’re about to get hit and directionality doesn’t matter much because if you dodge, you’ll automatically move somewhere to avoid whatever enemy is about to hit/shoot you.

Spider-Man walking around NYC interacting with NPC.

There are a couple issues I hope to see fixed but they by no means make the game harder for deaf players. When walking around the city, many of the people you pass by react to Spider-Man. Unfortunately none of this is subtitled so you miss out on all the admiration (and occasional negative passer by). There are people throughout the city that you can interact with, indicated by an icon above their heads, but I’d still like to have the option to turn on captioning for random NPC chatter, at least that directed at Spider-Man.

The other minor issue comes when searching for backpacks throughout the city. These areas are highlighted on your map and are fairly easy to find, however hearing players have the added benefit of hearing a beeping that grows louder the closer they get. There is no visual replication of this. If you’re looking in the right direction and you hit R3 to scan the area, you’ll get a visual cue, but you do have to be looking at the bag already for this to have any impact.

All in all, Spider-Man is a very accessible game for deaf/hoh players. It’s clear they put consideration and effort into giving us a comparable experience to that of our hearing peers and it’s nice to see that accessibility wasn’t simply an afterthought, as it so often seems to be for many games. Even with the minor oversights, it remains a welcoming experience for deaf/hoh players.