Deaf Game Review – Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Deaf Accessibility
5.3 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
Full subtitles for dialogue and environmental conversation, Full closed captioning, Color coded text indicates different speakers, Helpful visual cues that can be toggled on or off
Cons
No speaker names shown with subtitles, Text size isn't adjustable
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

When Square Enix announced their vast accessibility options for Shadow of the Tomb Raider a couple months ago, there was understandable excitement within the #a11y community on Twitter. This was easily one of the most accessible AAA games people had seen and seemed to be the start of a new standard for the accessibility base line.

So now that the game is out, how do all of these accessibility options actually work out?

Pretty damn well, actually.

The images below are three shots of the multitude of menus found before starting a game:

Sound options menu
Language options menu
Accessibility options menu

For the first time (please correct me if I’m wrong on that) deaf/hoh players have the option to not only turn on dialogue subtitles, but we have environmental subtitles and full closed captioning as well. There is also the option that I’m seeing more and more frequently to adjust the volume of dialogue, music, and sound effects individually.

As in the other Tomb Raider games, dialogue subtitles have different colors for different speakers (I’d like to see speaker tags as well, but the multicolored text is quite helpful.

Cutscene of Jonah talking in the rain
Cutscene with enemy leader showing hard to read blue subtitles.
Lara scaling a wall, image showing two different subtitle colors for two speakers.

As you can see in the middle image above, the colors don’t always work perfectly against varied backgrounds, but this doesn’t happen often, thankfully.

Lara trapped in tunnel, image showing the game's captioning.
Lara flying a plane, image shows subtitles and captions.

The closed captioning appears in brackets making it easy to differentiate between subtitles and captioning, and while I’d prefer the CCs use descriptive language as opposed to things like “music swells” and “music stinger” honestly, I’m just so excited that there are CCs that I’ll take what I can get.

Special vision mode showing enemies with red glow and items with yellow glow.

As in previous games, pressing R3 displays a wealth of visual cues, including enemy location, objects you can collect or interact with, animals you can kill for resources, and available cover. There is also icons for every item and person you can interact with. And all of this can be toggled on or off in the difficulty menu if that’s not how you like to play.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a welcome addition to the growing catalog of games accessible to deaf/hoh players and joins Spider-Man as one I hope developers look to when trying to get accessibility right. While the text for subtitles and CCs isn’t able to be resized, there is absolutely nothing that acts as a barrier for deaf players. This is one of the most accessible games I’ve played in a long time.