Deaf Game Review – Detroit: Become Human

It’s not often lately that a new game comes out and is everything I was hoping it would be. More and more I’m super excited for a game and then let down either by lack of accessibility, or bugs and glitches that make a game un-enjoyable. Not only was Detroit: Become Human not a disappointment, but it’s even better than I thought it would be. (Yes, I’m aware many people find both the game and its creator problematic) I love the visual novel style of the game paired with the stunning graphics. For me, it’s a piece of interactive fiction and players are free to take from it what they will and feel however they feel about it. Courtney loves it because of the depiction of Detroit, where she’s from, and how it isn’t portrayed as a hopeless shit hole for a change.

Anyway, since it’s impossible to talk much about the game without giving away the story, I won’t go into any of that. We’ll just get right to the accessibility.

Detroit: Become Human subtitle option screen.

First things first, captions are on by default upon starting the game the first time and they give you size options for subtitles (complete with examples of how big the subtitles will be).

Player controlled character standing in middle of protests in busy downtown area.
Mutilated face of a male android.

The subs are very easy to read, in both light and dark scenes (I imagine they’d be harder to read if you didn’t use the largest size option).

Man in a shop talking. Image depicts legibility of subtitles.
Man in wheelchair and man standing, backs to the camera. Image depicting problematic lack of speaker labels.

There are a few problems with the subtitles though. First, background conversations going on around your character are captioned only when you’re near enough to the person/people speaking. If you don’t fully explore some areas, you’ll miss out on some important stuff.

Speakers are not indicated either. In the first image of the two above, there’s a guy talking and the TV news anchor is talking. It’s impossible to differentiate who is saying what or that there even are two different speakers, as you can see. In the second image above, Marcus and Carl are having a conversation and because some of the scene shows their backs, you can’t tell who’s saying what.

Close-up of cardboard sign, "Human Music! $1 to hear music with soul."
Man playing an acoustic guitar.

Lastly, concerning subtitles, not everything is subtitled, and the game isn’t fully captioned.

Man pouring liquor from glass bottle, only his torso and arms are shown.
Female android kneeling at chain link fence.
Man's face with the text "Call" and a button press instruction displayed on his head.
QTE "Push Leo" or "Endure" showing two men in a confrontation.

Visual cues and instructions are a great size and very easy to see.

Man using special vision to examine a police interrogation. Second man, suspect, sitting at a metal table.

Something I found really helpful throughout the game is the ability to pause time and look around the scene to spot the various visual cues and mission objectives, which display every time you hit R2.

Confrontation scene highlighted in red with button press instructions.
Close-up examination of evidence, cigarette burns on an android's arm.

Given that this is a game about androids, many of the visual cues are a part of the gameplay and therefore very well done. The first image above indicated an optional action you can take and actions are color coded. Red is stuff you aren’t “supposed” to do, while blue is following instructions. Throughout the game, red indicates wrong or unfinished, while blue indicates right or completed objectives.

All in all the game does ok with accessibility. Lacking are speaker indications, full captioning, and the option to have the subtitles and text options move slower, but for me, those issues didn’t make the game unplayable or unenjoyable. This is definitely one I’ll be replaying to see if I can get a more preferable outcome than I did on my first run through.

Detroit: Become Human Deaf Accessibility
4.8 / 6 Reviewer
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 6 Users (0 votes)
Pros
Subtitle size options, Easy to see visual cues and on-screen instructions
Cons
No speaker tags, Some subtitles are proximity based, No text/subtitle display speed options
All in all the game does ok with accessibility. Lacking are speaker indications, full captioning, and the option to have the subtitles and text options move slower, but for me, those issues didn't make the game unplayable or unenjoyable.
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration
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