5 best games for deaf or hard of hearing players

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Jhonni Jets

Being deaf or hard of hearing does not have to limit your gaming options. While many popular games rely heavily on sound cues, there are plenty that place less importance on audio or include visual indicators instead. This article will examine 5 great games that are well-suited for deaf or hard of hearing players due to their approachable design and emphasis on visual feedback over sound.

Whether you’re looking for single-player adventures, cooperative multiplayer, or competitive online matches, these top picks offer engaging gameplay that does not require perfect hearing to enjoy. Let’s explore the options.

The Legend of Zelda

The official home for The Legend of Zelda - Home

One highly accessible series is The Legend of Zelda. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past tell epic single-player stories through visual storytelling rather than relying on dialogue. Puzzle-solving and combat areindicated visually as well. Breath of the Wild in particular stands out for its minimal use of voice acting or sound effects that are crucial to understand. Players can immerse themselves in Hyrule without worry that missing an audio cue will hamper their progress or enjoyment.

Similarly, puzzlers likePortalandPortal 2 from Valve Software rely primarily on visual problem-solving rather than audio cues. While there is voice dialogue, it is not important to follow the plot.Figuring out how to manipulate portals to reach objectives is done through experimentation and observation rather than listening instructions. Both games also include visual representations of any voice dialogue through subtitles.

Indie games are another great source for accessible titles. Celestefrom Matt Makes Games features platforming challenges alongside a poignant story about mental health. It tells its narrative primarily through emotes and text prompts rather than voice acting, ensuring deaf players won’t miss out. Controls and mechanics are clearly conveyed by what’s shown on screen as well.

Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11 on Steam

Fighting games can seem intimidating for those who rely less on audio cues, but there are definitely options. Mortal Kombat 11 allows players to switch off voice acting entirely and represents all dialogue through text. More importantly, it indicates moves and combos visually through animations and on-screen text prompts. Players can practice and learn moves by watching opponents rather than hearing sound effects.

Rhythm games may seem off limits without audio, but Crypt of the NecroDancerisenables both a “no music” mode as well as on-screen beat indicators. This allows players to keep time through visual rhythms on the display. Even hardcore rhythm game fans who are deaf or hard of hearing can enjoy the challenge without musical hearing.

accessibility-focused multiplayer games like Overcooked 2 also provide fully visible cues. Coordinating meal prep and delivery is depicted visually through animated actions, objects on the screen, and prompts letting players know when ingredients are needed in certain areas. Communication is possible entirely through emotes, text, and clearly depicted objectives.

MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena games)

Which has a faster paced gameplay, MOBA or FPS games? - Quora

MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena games) have come a long way in visual clarity as well. League of Legends broadcasts cool-downs, ability ranges, health levels, and other crucially timed stats on screen at all times. While coordinated voice chat can enhance high-level play, enjoying the game casually is very doable without relying on audio.

Similarly,Heroes of the Stormfrom Blizzard simplifies many MOBA mechanics for newcomers while maintaining strong visual communication of cooldowns, resources, and objectives. Teamwork can be accomplished just as smoothly through pings on the map, pre-set quick chat messages, and visual clarity in ability use and combat.

Even fast-paced shooters have found ways to integrate visual communication. Overwatch includes a robust system of optional text and voice lines for crucial alerts like “I need healing” or “Defend the objective.” Health bars, ultimates, and enemy locations are always depicted clearly on screen as well. Skilled deaf or hard of hearing players can stay totally in sync with a team through these visual cues.


Indie Video Game Darling 'Cuphead' is Getting an Original Graphic Novel  from Dark Horse Comics

For retro-inspired genres, indie darlingCuphead shines as an example of visual storytelling done right. Its stylized old-school animation and lip-syncing bring the characters and plot to life without sound. Dodging bullet patterns and mastering boss fights comes down to visual reaction speed over audio cues.

Similarly,Hollow Knightleans into wonderful hand-drawn 2D visuals and subtle animations to convey its dark world and memorable boss battles. While music enhances the atmosphere, it is not crucial to understand enemies, puzzles or plot points which are communicated visually.

Rougelike darlings likeThe Binding of Isaac andSlay the Spire effectively simulate random card/item generation and runs through visual representation as well. All interactions are clear at a glance, from power-ups to enemy patterns to strategic card positioning. These procedural games provide replayability without requiring perfect audio comprehension.


Cities: Skylines | Download and Buy Today - Epic Games Store

Finally,simulation and strategy games can be great for those who process information better through clear visuals over sound.Cities: Skylines lets you build and optimize efficient city infrastructure just by observing traffic patterns and citizen needs on the screen. Audio is purely atmospheric.

Similarly,FactorioandSatisfactoryfocus on conveying assembly line optimization, resource management, and enemy threats entirely through on-screen widgets and animations. No crucial audio is necessary to understand game systems or strategize efficient builds.

In summary, many genres have titles that welcome deaf and hard of hearing players through strong visual communication rather than reliance on audio cues. With options spanning adventure, sports, fighting and more – there are accessible games for every type of player.


In conclusion, the gaming industry has made immense strides in visual accessibility over the years. While audio still enhances many experiences, the options explored here prove that enjoying rich, complex titles is fully possible for deaf and hard of hearing gamers who process information best through visual rather than audio means. Whether preferring single player epics, cooperative multiplayer, or competitive online play, there are widely beloved franchises and hidden gems alike that invite all players to have an engaging experience on their own terms.

As developers continue prioritizing visual representations of crucial text, interactions, timing cues and more – the landscape will only continue broadening for players who may process some sensory information differently than others. Here’s hoping even more studios adopt a “universally inclusive” approach to game design in the future.

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