Developer: Steel Crate Games
Publisher: Steel Crate Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Puzzle, Party, Communication & Board Game
Release Date: August 16, 2018 (EU & NA)
Keep talking…until your friend/friends, understand you, or you explode!
With many AAA companies and games moving their co-op experiences online, it is very easy to think that local co-op is an experience that belongs in the past, remaining as a faded memory from the NES or SNES era. However, there are many fine gaming examples, most of them from the Indie scene that are targeting to keep this gameplay style alive and well. Nintendo, for example, made the Switch with local co-op in mind and many games that emphasize local multiplayer have arrived already, such as both Overcooked! games and 1-2-Switch, and they showcase how this function is still excellent in this modern era.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a local co-op only game (the experience totally falls apart when played alone), in a similar manner to those that already arrived on Switch, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stand out. Developed and published by Steel Crates Games, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes was originally made with VR technology in mind and released on Windows, whilst requiring the use of VR gear, before releasing on all VR capable platforms available. But things soon changed, for come August 2018, the VR requirement was being dropped and a non-VR version got the chance to debut on Switch.
The basic premise behind Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, is that a bomb has been set up and it is ready to explode. Your group is tasked with disarming before you run out of time and whilst trying to make the least amount of mistakes as possible. (In some configurations, you can’t make any mistakes). The problem with this though, is that one person, (known as the Diffuser,) is the one who must manage the bomb and disarm it, but the instructions to do so, are actually given to the rest of your team, aka the experts. The experts can’t see the bomb, so if you want to succeed, you will need to start talking and work together.
At first, this gameplay concept sounded brilliant, when I first heard about it a few years ago and I’m pleased to say, it holds very well when you play it. Playing a challenge, whether you have 1 diffuser and 1 expert or have 1 diffuser and many experts, will always lead to tension, arguments, funny comments and many other strange situations that are always fun to be a part of (and watch). Of course, there will be successes and there will be failures and both ends result in an amazing experience that goes great at a party, where you and your friends can put your friendship to the test.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes only has two modes, but they fit their purpose very well. The first mode is called bombs and it is the closest that this game could have to a campaign. In it, you start in an easy and more forgiving experience and as you go through and unlock new sections, the game gets harder and harder, as it changes time, types of modules that will be available, details that you have to notice and even the number of strikes (mistakes) that you can take before the bomb explodes.
Difficulty progression is developed very well, so if you create a group and go through it together, you can get to the final section and complete it all, but, of course, your group need to have great communication skills. The fun spin on this mode is that, although many settings are already defined when you select a challenge in a section, the game randomly generates the bomb, so they can be easily replayed to teach someone new or enjoy an easier challenge, without feeling repetitive.
However, if you want to configure it and set the game in the way you want in all details, so Free Play mode is for you. In it, you can set how much time you want to have, how many modules the bomb will have, if you want to play using needy modules (this type can’t be permanently disarmed) and if you want to play with multiple strikes or only one.
It is an amazing way to set your experience to your current mood, but I feel that there could have been a few more options to fine tune it. Of course, you can veto some of the modules in free play mode, but they are limited to three and this option is tuck away into the Accessibility menu that is located in the Options menu.
None of these modes work on their own however, as you will need the manual to play that is available for free on their website. This manual is stylized to look like a used one and will feature all that you need to know in a convenient and clear writing that will prove to be very helpful during your gameplay section. You can even find the manual in other languages, via searching online.
Finally, I have to point out that that it can be played in both handheld and TV modes (although the latter would require that only the diffuser can see the TV) and both experiences present itself very similar to other versions. Also, I have to say that I felt really disappointed that this version doesn’t have any touch-screen support when played in handheld mode. It would have been an incredible addition to this game (let’s hope they add it through a patch), and I also think that the Rumble function was underused in what could have been an excellent experience with the HD Rumble.
If you are looking for an interesting game to play with your friends or at a party, look no further. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one of the best experiences you can have in those situations as long as everyone is dedicated to it and willing to test their communication skills and even their friendship. Having played it before and now having it available on the Switch, whenever and wherever I have access to the manual, I will surely invite my friends and even my students to play and I gladly recommend you to do so as well.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Steel Crate Games
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