It’s easy to think that VR is mainly a solo experience given the fact that only one player can have the headset on at a time, but some developers have took a different approach and actually taken advantage of the fact that only one player can see what’s going on. Whilst a couple of games have experimented with the idea in a variety of different ways, developer Steel Crate Games have actually made the best use of it with their frantic bomb disposal party game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes has taken the age-old concept of bomb disposal and turned it into a multiplayer video game. Remember the classic movies and TV shows where a character would have to disarm a bomb based entirely upon instructions they’ve received over the phone after describing what the bomb looks like? That’s exactly what you’ll be doing. It’s an ingenious idea that takes full advantage of the isolation that wearing a VR headset offers. Only the player with the headset on can see the bomb and they’ve got to carefully describe each facet of it to other players in the room in order to get the instructions they need to disarm it. It’s bloody brilliant.
The player with the VR headset on will have a bomb in front of them made up of a variety of different modules and a timer. It’s up to them to disarm the bomb before the timer runs out, otherwise they’re greeted with a nice explosion that wipes out all of their family and friends. Ok, maybe it’s not that drastic, but you’ve got to up the stakes to add to the tension, right?
Each module is made up of a puzzle that comes in all sorts of different varieties. Take the classic ‘wire cutting’ for example – you might have three, four, five or six wires and you’ll have to carefully describe what colours they are in order to find out which one you need to cut. It’ll take some detailed discussions between players in order to solve each puzzle, plus there’s no room for error; if you make a mistake on a module you’ll receive a ‘strike’. Receive a pre-determined amount strikes and the bomb explodes, bringing a quick end to your bomb disposing career.
Having your friends describe how to disarm the bomb is one of the game’s most clever ideas. Players outside of the VR headset will have a bomb disposal manual that they can either see on the TV screen, their tablet or phone, or simply print out by downloading it from the game’s website. They’ve then got to find the module that you’re talking about and tell you exactly what you need to do in order to disarm it. It can get pretty hectic too – one of my early experiences with the game saw me describing a module to one of the other players, but they couldn’t find it in the manual. When they eventually worked out what they were looking for time was running short, bringing a tense countdown that eventually saw us disarm the bomb with merely seconds to spare. It’s an intense experience that’ll keep you constantly entertained, even if you’ll want to throttle some players for providing such poor instructions…
There’s a decent variety of modules that you’ll need to take care of that each require a different approach to solve. There are simple things like cutting wires, matching up symbols, or navigating a maze, but there are also more complicated modules such as the Morse codes, word games, and passwords that’ll really test your mettle. It’s when the game has got you totally perplexed with a module that you’ll have the most fun with it though, especially when playing with a large group of people who are all frantically trying to find the solution; you’ll have instructions shouted at you from all directions as you carefully try to make sense of the enigma in front of you and it can get out of control quite fast. It really is one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences I’ve ever and unlike everything I’ve ever played before.
There’s quite a lot of content to get through in the game with a set of bombs that have been designed to play through in what’s considered the game’s main campaign. There’s also the ‘free play’ mode that allows you to decide how many modules, how much time, and how many strike you’re allowed to have, with the game then randomly generating a bomb that’ll be different each time. There’s essentially a near infinite amount of possibilities to have with no two bombs ever being the same, though you will get used to seeing particular modules over time.
Whilst I’m a big fan of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, it does have one flaw that became more obvious the more I played. You start getting used to the solutions given to you for each module – it didn’t take long whilst playing with friends for me to start remembering the solutions to some of the puzzles on a bomb, something that was particularly obvious when cutting wires or during the ‘Simon Says’ module. Whilst some of the more intricate modules will never stick in your mind (those damn Morse codes have kept me stumped), after an extended period of play you’ll often know the solution to a module without having to ask any fellow players for help. Of course, this could be my own fault given the fact that I’ve put so many hours into the game, but I’m still hoping that future updates may offer new or altered modules.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes doesn’t just offer a VR experience like no other, but also an incredibly unique gaming experience too. I’ve never played anything quite like it, whilst the multiplayer aspect of the game offers the sort of laughs and entertainment that’ll keep you hooked for hours.
One of the most impressive things about Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is that just about anyone can play it, regardless of their experience with video games. It’s the perfect party game and it’ll ensure that my board games and ‘Cards Against Humanity’ are neglected for the immediate future – disposing bombs has never been more fun.
Developer: Steel Crate Games
Publisher: Steel Crate Games
Release Date: 13/10/2016
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Mac, Android