Deaf Game Review – Dauntless

Dauntless Deaf Accessibility
3.6 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
All dialogue is subtitled, subtitles are legible, accessible chat, some helpful visual cues
Cons
Not nearly enough sound visualization for essential game events
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration
Player Communication

Dauntless is the rare free-to-play game that I enjoy so much I want to give them my money. It’s fun, it’s easy to learn, it’s pretty. Hell, it’s even fun to play with strangers.

That said, the deaf/hoh accessibility is really not great. So much so that there have been several instances I’ve been unable to do what I set out to do—hunt a Behemoth. More on that in a minute.

Cutscene screencap illustrating the subtitle size.

The subtitles are quite well done, and while I’d like to see speaker labels, the cutscenes are so few and far between that it doesn’t make much of an impact on the game.

Quest acceptance screen showing quest info text.

The quest info text is really quite small, though I’ve honestly not taken the time to read any of it, I just want to dismember some Behemoths and craft pretty armor.

Battle scene showing damage numbers and weapon visual effects.

Most of the sounds, like weapons slicing through your monster, have a unique visual paired with them and you can opt to have the damage number text off or on.

The problem, and it’s a big one considering that this entire game is about finding and killing Behemoths, is that Phoenix Labs didn’t pair their obviously important sounds with any sort of visual cues. I mentioned above I’ve been unable to do what I set out to do because of this. What happened in that situation was I’d lost track of my hunting party because I stopped to collect some herbs for crafting during the second half of the hunt. I didn’t get to contribute to killing the Behemoth in part 2 of the hunt because a) not one of my teammates opted to use their flares to indicate they’d found the Behemoth and b) every single time I was near the Behemoth, which was obscured by a big cliff, I missed the music that begins playing at this time because it’s not visualized in any way.

Flare use being shown at the top of the screen on the compass bar.

In the image above, on the compass bar you’ll see the icons for the flares, should players decide (or remember) to use them. This is currently the only way for deaf/hoh players to know the general location of the Behemoth if its out of sight. Another big problem with the flare system is that if a player isn’t facing in the direction of the Behemoth, hearing players will hear the general direction of the flare sound but deaf players get no indication whatsoever.

Both of these issues have easy fixes which I hope will be implemented quickly: Make flare use automatic whenever one party member is near the Behemoth or indicate this in some visual way on the compass bar, and implement Fortnite style sound visualization or Assassin’s Creed style enemy presence indicators.

Chat is accessible in that the game includes both text and voice chat, though there is no speech to text feature, so if teammates are using voice chat and you can’t, you’re out of luck. And there are a range of emotes (though you have to purchase most of them) for basic communication.

As it is currently, while still playable for deaf/hoh people, we’re at a serious disadvantage because of these oversights.