Game Review: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

What is it?

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the definitive couch co-op game. One player must defuse a bomb only they can see while their partners try to tell them how. It was developed by Steel Crate Games, costs $14.99, and is available on PC and Playstation VR.

What do you do?

One player puts on the VR headset and finds their self sitting in a room with a bomb in they must defuse. The bombs are defused by snipping the right wires, pressing the right sequence of buttons, or a ton of other ways. The diffuser’s top priority is describing the bomb to their partners who try to instruct them on how to defuse the bomb.

The players not in VR are the experts. The experts have a manual with step-by-step instructions on how to defuse every bomb. As the diffuser identifies components of the bomb, the experts must sift through the manual to identify which wires to cut or what buttons to press. The experts are Jeff Daniels to the bomb diffusers Keanu Reeves or whatever culturally relevant actors in a  bomb disposal scene you can think of.

(My editors said referencing the 1994 classic Speed is too outdated so how about Jeremy Renner in the Hurt Locker? Has everyone seen the Hurt Locker? I’ve never seen it, but it won some Oscars and Hawkeye got nominated for best actor).

Is it fun?

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one of the best arguments for VR that I’ve seen. When you play as the diffuser, the pressure is on. Trying to describe the bomb to the experts is tense and clipping a wire that might cause the bomb to blow is always exciting. There’s a countdown timer on the bombs that only you can see and it creates pressure to get the job done quick.

Playing as the diffuser is fun, but being an expert with the bomb manuals in hand is some of the best role playing any video game has ever offered. The manuals aren’t organized in a specific way so you have to flip through them searching for any sign of what your diffuser is describing. You truly do feel like a member of the bomb squad and stopping the bomb from going off is extremely satisfying.

How’s the replay value?

I think the replay value for Keep Talking depends on how often you have people over who are willing to play with you. If you play it with the same one or two people, eventually you’ll all know the bomb components and manual well enough that you’ll defuse each one pretty quickly. Not knowing exactly where to look in the manual or how to describe a component is half the challenge of the game.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes has all the makings of a great party game. You can pull up the bomb manuals on smartphones so everyone in the room can play the role of an expert. The need for clear communication between the experts and diffuser could become an annoyance in larger groups, but you could always split into teams and compete for the fastest times.

Is it worth what it cost?

For $15 Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes might offer the most value of any PlayStation VR game. There’s a ton of different bombs to defuse and It’s a genuinely fresh experience that you couldn’t find before virtual reality. The role playing is top notch and even someone who can’t work a controller can still participate as one of the experts. If you have VR then you should have this game.

A review copy of this game was provided to The Campus Citizen by the developer.