Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is just an easy-peasy bomb simulator game, right? Nah. Unlike other simulators where co-operative play is an afterthought, this game is all about team work and it’s an absolute blast.
I’d originally believed Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes had been developed by Bossa Studios, given its Surgeon Simulation/I am Bread appearance and I was surprised to find out otherwise. As a lover of quirky little puzzle games this was right up my street, especially as it is a team game and is better played as such. It requires co-operation in order to succeed so you can’t just rush off ahead and that makes me absolutely giddy. I know it’s difficult to keep these sorts of games interesting, especially from the point of view of someone who has a relatively short attention span, and I’d fully prepared myself for an hour of fun to then lead to boredom – a fleeting idea that settles in the “Oh, well that was fun while it lasted,” experience – but again I was surprised. On top of the extended playability I was worried that my team mates using the manual would grow tired of having to read through the PDF while I got to do everything on my screen. Yet as it turned out we’d played for a solid few hours without switching up positions and my team mates wanted to go back for more the following day, as did I.
Developed by Ben Kane, Brian Fetter and Allen Pestaluky during Global Game Jam in 2014, they found that the positive response in its hilarity after only a 48 hour prototype proved that the game would be worth pursuing and so they formed Steel Crate Games to make it happen. It’s as simple as it sounds: a bomb defusing game where you control the bomb and your team-mate(s), or ‘experts’, guide you through the process using a 23 page PDF. However things become much more complicated as time goes on; chances get fewer and time gets shorter, throwing a spanner in the previously calm works to create unexpected mayhem. There’ll be no award for creative controls but it really doesn’t need anything more than it has: left click to select; right-click to deselect/rotate. Simple. Lovely. Easy.
The need for team work and clear explanations is what makes this game hilarious. It creates a sense of urgency on my end when descriptions come across muddled and I have to try to re-think it. It was mentioned during gameplay that it was interesting how each of us had our own interpretations of the symbols and our own ways to describe certain tasks. Plus we played with no timer on the ‘experts’ end so I had the fear of time and my team mates didn’t…until I let them know we had 30 seconds left. As well as explaining everything clearly, to then trust the ‘experts’ to interpret it properly and give you the correct feedback is easy until they get it wrong, then doubt starts to set in and things get more intense. Five minutes really does fly by.
Though it’s more engaging for extended play time than I’d originally thought I do believe its novelty is limited. Similar to Surgeon Simulator, once you’ve beaten all of the levels there’s really nowhere left to go. There is a ‘Free Play’ option where you encounter a panel with four choices: time (30 seconds to 10 minutes), modules (3 to 11); and two on/off switches: needy module and hardcore mode. This does give you the option to generate your own levels once the game has been completed but it still runs the risk of becoming repetitive. What would be useful, and what I’m hoping for considering you have to confirm the manual number in the first instance, is that Steel Crate Games will bring out more manuals to pair with updates and new challenges. That’s the only problem with these sorts of games: they’re extremely entertaining and usually become enormously hyped – especially considering we’ve now got the A-list YouTubers playing it – but when they die, they die completely because there’s nothing new about it in a year’s time.
All in all its intense and frantic gameplay is a recipe for hilarity and a true test of friendship. Despite the fact I’d experienced it over skype I expect it would be even more fun playing in the same room as your team mates because you’ll feel the panic in the air as the timer counts down, and though I’m not encouraging alcohol in any way I’m confident it would make a fantastic drinking game. The party atmosphere would truly be explosive…I’ll let myself out.
I can only hope that Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes doesn’t become another trend and forgotten creation as it is wonderfully entertaining and something much more than just the ‘Simon Says’ of simulator games.
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