|Genre||Publisher||Release date||Release O.S||Available on|
|Puzzle||Steel Crate Games||13/10/2016||PlayStation 4||Steam|
Every so often I stumble across a game that both my girlfriend and I take the time to play through together from start to finish. Just last month for example we flipped burgers and chopped onions in the super stressful but super fun Overcooked. Now we move on to even more taxing things – defusing bombs.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a co-operative experience with just one aim. Staying alive and keeping bombs from exploding (shock horror). How you go about this is with players taking on one of two roles. The “Defuser” who uses the PlayStation VR to actually see the bomb, makes all the cuts, presses and snips on the explosive using the controller. Unfortunately they have no idea what they need to be doing. This is where the other players step in who take on the roles of the “Experts”. These guys are responsible for talking the “Defuser” through the necessary steps in order to defuse the bomb using the game’s instruction manual. This manual can either be navigated on the television with another controller or printed off physically and put into a binder. Personally I prefer the latter method as it really does add to the overall panic of it all as you manically flip through the pages looking for the correct one.
If you’ve ever seen a Hollywood movie where the hero is being guided via someone over the phone that pretty much sums the experience up here. The “Defuser” needs his crew to tell him what to do and the “Experts” need the lead to explain what they see clearly. Everyone is important and it goes without saying that teamwork is essential in order to win. After over roughly 100 bombs defused, with the girlfriend and a whole assortment of other people, it’s fascinating trying the game with new groups or even watching newcomers try to figure things out for themselves. Some panicked, some remained calm and cool and others just started yelling loudly hoping for the best. Playing the game is great fun, but as a spectator sport it then becomes a different form of entertainment.
Which role is harder? Personally I think it’s when trying to decipher the manual as the “Expert”. You’re the one with the instructions to help you all win so the pressure is well and truly on to calculate the right moves as quick as possible.
Bombs themselves are broken down into modules, each module consisting of a certain type of puzzle that needs to be solved a particular way in order to disarm. One such example takes the “Simon Says’ idea but adds a unique twist to it while another sports a series of different coloured and striped wires that need cutting a certain way. Successfully disarm every module within the time limit and it’s mission complete.
The game offers a campaign of sorts that gradually introduces bombs with more modules and more complicated combinations as you progress. Early stages will offer plenty of time whereas the further in you get the sharper your skills will need to be. Lights may go out briefly or an alarm clock might start buzzing breaking your concentration. Later stages even start to introduce what are called “Needy” modules that require your constant attention in order to keep them from going off.
If you want to just mess around with a few random bombs however then you can do that too in free play. Here you’re free to set the number of modules, time limit and also how many mistakes you’re allowed to make before the bomb goes off. Since the bombs themselves are all randomly generated, no two bombs will ever be the same meaning regardless of how practiced you are, there will still be a hearty challenge to be had.
Visually the game is simple but clean. While “Experts” will only ever see manual pages or a static screen, the player in the VR headset will find themselves in a grimy room with the bomb itself. While the idea of feeling like you’re in this room on your own with the “Experts” somewhere is else is certainly neat, I couldn’t help but keep asking myself, is this entirely necessary? The straight answer is no, after all the game is available on PC where the “Defuser” simply faces the screen away from everyone else instead of using a £350 piece of equipment. Oddly, the developer’s have chosen to exclude this option in the PlayStation 4 version meaning VR is the only way to experience it here.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is such a simple idea but one that’s executed so well. While the game isn’t a VR defining experience, the manic nature of it all makes for one of the most entertaining multiplayer experiences of 2016. Short, sweet but definitely something I’ll continue to break out with friends and family whenever they’re over.
- Great concept
- Perfect for groups
- Tough as all hell
- Physical manual is neat
- Some missions can prove too much
- Is VR really essential?
- TV could display a little more than title