Deaf Game Review – Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Kingdom Come: Deliverance Deaf Accessibility
2.3 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
Most dialogue is subtitled, cutscene subtitles are an ok size, NPC dialogue is subtitled
Cons
No speaker labels, no visual cues for essential sounds and dialogue not directly in front of you
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration

In Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you play as Henry, a young man with training in precisely nothing. His father sent him on an errand at the start of the game to collect a debt owed to him for some tools. Not only did Henry not collect the tools, he got his ass kicked and didn’t collect the tools. And when he got his ass kicked, he did this:

Henry whining to his mom that his nose hurts and won't stop bleeding.

And so it’s no surprise that when the army came to attack the town, Henry had all he could do to run. He managed to escape to a nearby town, barely, and now he wants revenge. But first he’ll have to learn how to fight and bathe, and eat properly, and not drink too much, and pick proper herbs and flowers, and, and, and…

As for the Deaf/hoh accessibility, well, it’s not the best.

A knight talking to Henry with five lines of subtitle text shown on screen.

The subtitles are decently sized, though there are no size options or speaker labels, and often times, far too much text appears on screen at once. The stylized font is not ideal, but at least it’s a nice bold one, I guess?

Two NPCs talking with small subtitles floating above their heads.
Two NPCs talking with larger subtitles floating above their heads.

Similar to how The Witcher 3 approached non-essential/nearby NPC dialogue, this game has subtitles float above the heads of each speaker and the text increases in size the closer you get. This is very hard to read against some backgrounds or when the character is moving, but I have to say, having it subtitled in some way is better than not having subtitles for it at all.

This system fails though when it’s applied to essential dialogue, as shown below:

Distant NPC with illegible subtitles above her head.

In the above scene that takes place during the tutorial quest, the woman in the image above is running to tell you to stop what you’re doing, the catchpole is coming. Problem is, where Henry is standing for this part of the quest, you’re too far away to read the text. If you move closer to read it, you’ll get caught. If you don’t, you’ll never know you need to run and you’ll get caught.

Another instance in which this was a problem was when Henry needed to move in a certain direction to cue dialogue that moved a quest on. The guard was shouting for everyone to run and players could hear the directionality of his shouting, but the subtitles were hidden around a corner. So it’s possible to stand there until you’ve run out of patience with no clue as to what’s going on or what you should do, shown below:

An empty castle walkway at sunrise.

The last problem with this comes with stealth. The only indication that anyone is nearby when you’re sneaking, or that they may spot you, are various dialogue lines asking about the noise you’re making or “Who’s there” or something similar. If they’re not directly in front of you and you’re not within range to cue the floating subtitles, you’ll never know and you will fail at stealthiness. In the image below, I was able to faintly hear someone threatening me but he was off to the side and I was too far away for the subtitles to be shown.

Rainy scene at dusk, a dirt path lined with weeds.

See? There’s nobody there, so Deaf/hoh players will never know they’re about to be attacked until they’re being attacked.

Dark and rainy town area with quest info, "Find a spade."

The last major problem in this game are the sound cues that have no visual component. In the above image, you’re told to find a spade. Hearing players will be able to guess they should follow the sound of a barking dog. Deaf/hoh players will have to wander aimless until they happen upon the dog and cue the cutscene.

All in all, the subtitles in Kingdom Come: Deliverance are decent and that’s about it. The game has been out for far too long for me to hope for a patch, so unfortunately I’d have to recommend Deaf/hoh players skip this one unless of course everything I mentioned above wouldn’t bother you.