Deaf Game Review – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Oblivion Deaf Accessibility
3.4 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
All dialogue is subtitled, subtitles are large enough to read easily
Cons
No visual indication of important sounds, subtitles at times very hard to read
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

Saveri the Dunmer rogue-assassin who has no idea what’s going on is back! This time for a clueless adventure in Cyrodiil. This time around I’ve spent my game time killing rats instead of giant mudcrabs and instead of wandering Morrowind aimlessly, I’m trying to escape prison, slight less aimlessly thanks to a marginally better map and the introduction of quest markers. Know what I haven’t done in Cyrodiil? Accidentally sold my pants. I’ve got pants.

Opening cutscene showing Cyrodiil in the distance

Once again, the game launches with a cutscene and once again, it’s not subtitled.

Volume options screen
General options screen

Unlike Morrowind, in Oblivion you’ve got the option to turn on dialogue subtitles and general subtitles. What the difference is, I don’t actually know, as I’ve yet to come across anything subtitled that wasn’t dialogue. You also have the usual individual volume sliders.

Aelwin Merowald speaking to player character outside of his home.

While the dialogue is still nice and big, as it was in Morrowind, it’s a bit harder to read, for a couple of reasons. It’s not presented with any kind of background, so sometimes contrast is an issue, and at times, there’s a lot of text on the screen.

Player character walking along stone path with wolf enemy to the left.

Also appearing as it did in Morrowind is the changing music when you’ve been spotted by an enemy. Another similarity? There’s no visual indication of the enemy (until you’ve actually seen them) or marker on your compass bar. Unlike in Morrowind, this 2006 game has faster paced movement and combat so it actually is possible for enemies to sneak up on you in Oblivion.

Inside dungeon, subtitles show unknown speaker talking.

The last Deaf/hoh accessibility issue in Oblivion is the lack of speaker labels. In the image above, you see someone speaking to you but no idea who because given the quality of the graphics (I’m not blaming, I’m just noting, I know, it was 2006…) it’s not exactly easy to tell who is speaking even when they’re standing right in front of you.

Given these issues, Deaf/hoh players may find themselves struggling a bit when it comes to keeping up with the story and in some instances of combat. However, the story is still enjoyable and fully playable.