Deaf Game Review – Genesis Alpha One

Genesis Alpha One Deaf Accessibility
2.6 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
Some dialogue is subtitled, occasional helpful visual cues
Cons
Essential dialogue isn't subtitled, no visual cues for nearby enemies, very hard to read subtitles
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

Genesis Alpha One is a brilliant game. My first space adventure was a memorable one. I had a crew of bald human female clones (all human clones, both male and female, look like mannequins and are identical with different names) and we set out to explore the galaxy. All was going well. I was gathering materials to expand my (very poorly planned) ship and after enough missions, I’d collected enough biomass and alien DNA to clone my first Mantiz crew member!

That’s when things went downhill. My captain – the sixth I’d had, as succession is automatic when your current captain has a space mishap and dies prematurely – was exploring her abundant greenhouse when ship life support systems all began to fail. I’d gotten a little greedy with my ship expansion, so I didn’t have the resources required to make repairs. One by one, my lady clone crew suffocated and then it was my turn. Game over.

Things really go downhill when we start talking about deaf/hard of hearing accessibility. Because it’s nearly nonexistent.

Black and white rocket launch scene. White subtitle text displayed in front of a white area of the screen.

The subtitles? They’re bad. Not only are they a small and stylized font, but more often than not, because they’re not displayed against a darkened background, contrast issues makes them even harder to read than they are already.

Ship captains PDA centered on screen, distorted text displayed at the bottom of the PDA.

While I appreciate that they wanted to incorporate the tutorial/informational text as a part of the game in a PDA, they failed to replicate this essential text in a manner that’s actually legible. This PDA is where you learn everything and the way it’s presented; even smaller than the subtitle text and distorted because it’s part of the PDA, makes it less than helpful.

On a green, lush planet, sun glare on screen, ship captain holding a handgun.

Another major failure is that they made essential alerts, like the presence of enemies when you’re on a planet, available only via a voice over a speaker and that voice isn’t subtitled. There’s no visual indication for incoming enemies and controller vibration is hit or miss so by the time you notice, oh, I’m being attacked, it’s by a swarm of 5 or 6 of them and you’ll probably die. This is remedied a little if you’re on a particularly dark planet, as eventually, the spotlight will shine on the enemies, but it’s still not quite enough to match the spoken alert.

Tractor beam ship module, red lights flashing indicating enemy presence.

When on your ship the visual cues are much more helpful, depending on the module you’re in. In the tractor beam module, where most onboard enemies appear, the track lighting on the floor will change to red to alert you of an enemy, usually giving you plenty of time to spot it and shoot it.

All in all, it’s great game which makes it an even bigger shame that the deaf/hoh accessibility is so poor. Luckily the combat isn’t terribly hard if you make good choices, so the game is still enjoyable, even if you rely on visual cues and subtitles.

Below are all of the settings. Note that on console, controls are not remappable:

Audio options menu
Gameplay options menu
Controls menu