Not since Far Cry New Dawn has a game feature brought me such joy that I actually sat there at my TV and shouted, “Oh! Look at that!” (The sound subtitles were what did it in FCND, FYI.)
The second game to achieve this is American Fugitive. I absolutely love the way they have visualized sounds in comic book style. It manages to be both inclusive of deaf/hoh players and fits perfectly with the style of the game.
See it? Isn’t it perfect? The little THWACK with the stars circling above the top prison dude’s head? This is how the game handles all sound effects that happen during conversations and other important sounds are nicely visualized as well.
When you break into a home (or a tool shed, which in this game also have alarm systems) players get a clear and impossible to miss visual indication that the police are coming, complete with a countdown timer. When the police actually arrive, that’s presented visually as well, so you know exactly where to not go to avoid being caught.
Also wonderful is how they’ve visualized tone in dialogue. The above image shows the conversation getting a bit heated, with the little points coming off the sides of the text box. Regular conversations are displayed in a simple box. It’s amazing how creative people making a game can be to get their point across when not relying on sound to convey the story.
A big part of American Fugitive is breaking into places and stealing stuff. The mechanics surrounding this are conveyed visually too, again, because the process doesn’t rely on sound. You don’t walk up to a house and listen for movement or conversation inside. You peek in the window and you’ll get a little blue dot if it’s an empty room. This fits beautifully with the way the actual breaking in action is presented as well (in the above blueprint style shown above).
There is one problem in this game though, but it’s not exclusive to deaf/hoh players, because there is no voice acting:
The open world dialogue/thoughts of your character are absolutely impossible to read (at least when not playing in handheld mode on Switch). But again, this is a problem for everyone, not just deaf/hoh players as is so often the case. Luckily these instances are few and far between and don’t seem to deliver any terribly important parts of the story. It’s usually just your character’s thoughts (though I’d still love to be able to actually read them).
American Fugitive is a wonderfully accessible game for deaf/hoh players and fans of the older GTA games or 80’s crime movies should definitely check this one out.
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