Deaf Game Review – Mortal Kombat 11

Review copy provided courtesy of WB Games

Mortal Kombat 11 Deaf Accessibility
5.4 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
All dialogue is subtitled, cutscene subtitles displayed as white text against black background so contrast is never an issue, accessible multiplayer chat
Cons
Subtitles are too small, no speaker labels
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration
Player Communication

The last time I played a Mortal Kombat game was 1993 on my Sega Genesis when there were three face buttons and the d-pad to control all the moves your fighters could do. I’m proud to tell you that this is still the approach that I take in MK11, not because button choices for moves are limited but because the sheer amount of button combos required is not something I will ever remember. And so, X, square, circle, and the d-pad is it. Sometimes I’ll accidentally hit the triangle button and something neat happens but I don’t count on ever being able to have the same accident twice.

I am bad at fighting games, always have been, and that’s not going to change, so I’ll embrace it and play on very easy.

How does MK11 do with deaf/hard of hearing accessibility? Much better than I do at playing it! Though it could be better. But let’s start with the good.

Online options menu with speech to text and text to speech chat options.

When playing online, chat is accessible to deaf/hoh players! Thanks, CVAA! There is a text to speech option as well as a speech to text option.

Audio options menu

You’ve got your usual individual volume sliders and the option to select your audio experience based on your speaker setup.

Gameplay options menu

And you’ve got the option to turn subtitles on or off (they’re off by default) and select the subtitle language. Unfortunately, that’s all there is in the way of subtitle options. No size options to be found and no speaker label toggle.

Cutscene with multiple characters around a table inside a room filled with blue monitors on the walls.

Given that there are no speaker labels and no size options, the subtitles aren’t great. The size is fine for folks with great vision but size options are badly needed here. And the cutscenes, unless the speaker is shown solo on the screen, are impossible to follow for deaf players because there’s no indication of who’s speaking.

Pre-fight cutscene with D'vorah and Kung Lao.

The pre-fight trash talking subtitles suffer from the same problems but they are displayed on a black background so if you’re sitting close enough to the screen, you can read them!

D'vorah getting her face cut in half by Kung Lao's circular saw hat with blue blood spatter.

Sounds are nicely mirrored through controller vibration so should you find yourself in a situation like the one above with D’vorah getting her face cut in half, the sounds of death and defeat will rumble in your hands.

All in all, while the subtitles could stand to be much better, MK11 is still an accessible game because it’s a fighting game, not a story-centric game, and bad subtitles are really only an issue when playing in story-mode. And the addition of accessible multiplayer chat means deaf/hoh players get to participate in online fun too!

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Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

Courtney Craven

Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com