Deaf Game Review – Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed Deaf Accessibility
2 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
Eagle Vision helps to identify whether an NPC is an enemy or friendly, status icon color helps to determine your wanted/suspicion level
Cons
No subtitles at all
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

To say the first Assassin’s Creed game was a disaster when it comes to Deaf/hoh accessibility seems like an understatement, so I’ll just take you through my first moments of gameplay in screenshots. I’d give you the usual rundown of the story but I can’t this time because I don’t know it. Because accessibility.

Opening scene from Assassin's Creed. Desmond waking up in the animus with Dr. Vidic and Lucy beside him

The game begins with Desmond (the character you control in the modern day parts of the game) waking up in the Animus with Lucy and Dr. Vidic on either side of him. That’s all I know because there are no subtitles.

Animus menu screen

Then you see the Animus menu screen and it’s clear that Dr. Vidic is talking to Desmond because his mouth is moving, but again, no subtitles, so…

Tutorial in Animus, Altair standing in light blue area, instructions on screen.
Animus tutorial showing color meanings in Eagle Vision mode

Luckily the tutorial has text to at the very least, Deaf/hoh players know what indicates what and what each of the buttons do. The one and only helpful “accessibility” touch of the game is the Eagle Vision system in which different colors indicate different types of enemies, as well as the status icon which changes colors based on your level of suspicion and whether you’re being searched for.

Cutscene showing three assassins talking with each other

Finally, you are dropped into the middle of your first mission as Altair. There’s clearly lots being said, as the cutscenes are long and abundant, but there are still no subtitles.

Pause screen showing options menu

Finally you’re able to pause the game and access settings where you’ll be able to turn on the desperately needed subtitles, right? But wait… There isn’t any option to turn them on. That’s right, the entire first game in the Assassin’s Creed series is void of subtitles. Deaf/hoh players that rely on them won’t ever learn the story unless we Google it.

Altair walking through town area, soldiers shown in the distance.

The only thing that saves Assassin’s Creed from being completely unplayable for Deaf/hoh people are the quest objective markers telling you where you need to go. Though it’s anybody’s guess as to what you’re supposed to do once you’ve gotten there, as that’s usually only communicated in the non-subtitled dialogue. Are you supposed to kill the person you found at the quest marker? Rob them? Just beat them up a little? That takes a lot of guessing and if you get it wrong, you’ll have to start all over again and hope you guess correctly next time.

All in all, if your only interest is walking around and killing people (and having to guess as to who you are supposed to kill) you can do that in Assassin’s Creed as a Deaf/hoh player. But if you have the slightest interest in knowing the story or not having to guess your way through the different missions, this game is a hard pass because the lack of subtitles makes that impossible.