Deaf Game Review – Assassin’s Creed II

Assassin's Creed II Deaf Accessibility
4 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
All dialogue is subtitled, very helpful visual cues
Cons
No speaker labels, opening cutscene isn't subtitled
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

The second game in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series is a massive step up in Deaf/hoh accessibility, and not just because the first game had no subtitles and this one does. In AC2 the few things that did help with Deaf/hoh accessibility in the first game have been refined and are even more helpful.

Opening cutscene, Desmond with his hand on his forehead.

Unfortunately, the game opens with a cutscene that isn’t subtitled, so everything that could have caught Deaf/hoh players up on the story they missed in AC1, we still miss, once again due to the lack of subtitles.

Subtitle options menu

Fortunately that problem doesn’t persist and once you’re past the opening scene, you can toggle subtitles on prior to starting your game.

Ezio following an NPC through Florence streets.

While the subtitles are shown with a slightly darkened background, there are no speaker labels so it’s quite difficult to keep up with who is saying what.

Ezio fighting an enemy inside courtyard.

The visual cues are quite helpful (not that they have anything to do with sound but they help players keep on top of what’s happening and with whom. My favorite in this game was the handy little enemy health indicator, not displayed in the usual line style but in a group of dots that slowly empty out as you stab away at the enemy. I also found it helpful (because you can inadvertently stab and punch innocent people) that the people you’re supposed to be killing have a nice white glow to them. The eagle vision enemy color coding also reappears in AC2 and it’s just as helpful as it was in the first.

Ezio walking in a group, indicator shown on ground to show he has successfully blended.

Shown above is the visual indication that you have successfully blended with a crowd and therefore won’t be spotted by enemies. When an enemy does spot you though, there’s a very handy icon that fills in and changes color depending on their level of suspicion and whether you’re being pursued by them. It coincides with the enemy’s shouting at you, so the visual indication is necessary.

Lastly, as with the first game, the minimap and the icon next to your health meter will change in color as your level of suspicion changes and/or are actively being searched for or pursued.

All in all, thanks to the appearance of subtitles and the refining of visual cues, Assassin’s Creed II is far more Deaf/hoh friendly than its predecessor was.