Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Review – Bomb Squad (PSVR)
If you ever worry that one day you might have to help someone defuse a bomb from a remote location and only have a phone to communicate, or find yourself in the remote location with nothing but a bomb and a phone, then this game can help you prepare and develop a sort of peace of mind in your long-distance bomb-defusing skills. Or, if you simply want to test your communication skills with your friends and family while having a fun time, this game can help you do that too.
Easy to Learn, Hard to Master
When you put on the headset, you are instructed on how to navigate the joyfully colored bomb using the DualShock 4 controller. Once the simple controls are mastered, anyone can play this game. The fun of it is in the virtual reality and the way that wearing the headset recreates a similar remote location situation where neither couch person nor headset person can see what the other is seeing. The game will test your ability to speak clearly, quickly, and without the need to repeat or explain again, otherwise the bomb will explode and one of you will “die.”
Let’s talk about that death, though. I was expecting and hoping for some sort of earth-shaking fiery insanity. What really happens is much less exciting, but perhaps more realistic. The screen just goes black while you hear an explosion noise. Maybe this symbolizes that death from a bomb held in your own two hands would be quick and uneventful. I was disappointed, however, because the fun of this game is in pretending it’s real so that hilarity ensues. In not providing a virtual reality explosion, the player is denied that sense of wonder during their demise and the make-believe reason to not let the bomb explode.
Cut the Third Wire!
But, having a simple black screen did highlight why the game is really fun. It’s because of the real humans playing it. I loved playing this with my favorite co-op buddy, Chandler, because I always enjoy communicating with him and testing ourselves together. It was entertaining to see how fast we could defuse each new bomb, and what bomb modules tripped us up, like the one that uses the most complicated Venn diagram I have ever seen to describe which wire to cut based on colors, LEDs, and symbols. We loved ad-libbing and pretending the cell-phone static sometimes was too loud to hear certain words we tried to say, or pondering why one of us kept getting kidnapped and put in that same dark room with a bomb all the time.
And there lies another point I found the game was lacking: a little narrative. Even if the developers just made some small thing in the main menu room change each time you were there, that would go a long way in letting the imaginations of the players take over to create elaborate theories about why you were there and what it all means. We weren’t able to reach the end of the game (damn needy modules), but I kept looking for any changes in the environment over time and couldn’t find anything. Any possible narrative was entirely up to me to hold up.
Do not mistake this as meaning I think the game boring in any way because I’m too boring myself to be entertained by a game with no narrative. Absolutely not. I, a highly creative and self-entertaining individually, would have loved to see the game rise to even higher heights had the devs thrown the players a narrative bone here and there. Like I said, they wouldn’t have had to even put any thought into what the little hints and environmental changes meant. The player’s imaginations would have taken it from there.
When we saw this game at the first PlayStation Experience, it had a physical manual. It comes with a digital one in this launch title. I was sad I wouldn’t be able to get a cool physical manual to frantically thumb through while playing, but I was happy to discover I like the digital manual. It’s much faster to use than a physical one. But don’t worry, you can also print the manual at BombManual.com if you want the added challenge (that is not the most office-friendly URL I’ve ever seen, though).
Just Some Harmless Bomb Fun
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a very smart use of a new technology; it was executed very well, it’s simple to play, and it is fun for everyone. There is a nice progression of difficulty with more complex modules appearing with more frequency over time, and then again with the introduction of needy modules (they can’t be finished or solved, but require constant attention throughout your allotted time). For a game that is to be played with family and friends who might not be gamers, the controls are simple and the VR is comfortable and does not cause dizziness or nausea (you just sit in a chair). I was excited for this game when it was announced, and it delivers the fun that I expected. You, too, can have fun with bombs in your own living room! Go ahead, invite the neighbors!
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.