Successfully dismantling a bomb is an art and one that sadly myself nor my friends seemingly have. In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, one person puts on the bomb suit (the PlayStation VR head-mounted display) and comes face to face with a bomb of varying difficulty and composition. Everyone else must study and read the Bomb Defusal Manual, picking the correct methods based on the communication between the two parties. In hindsight, putting my life as the player defusing the bomb in the hands of Marcus and Mike was a mistake. Failing still provides an adrenaline rush as you begin to panic with the last few seconds ticking by before forever empty blackness creeps over you.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a local multiplayer-centric title, in fact, without someone reading the manual, there is no possible way for you to disarm the bomb (trust me I tried). It's nearly impossible to perfectly memorize the entire manual, and even if you did it would be a sad, lonely experience that misses what the game is trying to accomplish. With one person diffusing the bomb in the PSVR headset, the rest of the players can use the Social Screen to flip through the manual and bark out instructions on how to stay alive. Of course, this is contingent on the person in the headset correctly explaining what they are seeing. It’s a game about give and take when it comes to proper instructions and understanding the slight differences that could mean the difference between walking away or being sent home in a doggy bag. If you have a lot of people trying to crowd around the television, you may want to print out a couple copies of the manual. This way, you can have different people assigned to different sections in the manual to be more efficient at figuring out the different modules.
Each bomb is a self-contained puzzle with varying amounts of modules covering one or multiple dies of a box. The harder the difficulty, the more modules and the more likely you’ll have to deal with advanced modules that take much longer to dissect than the standard ones. The modules on the bomb change every time you play, so you can’t try and memorize it if you fail to disarm it the first time. Inside the 3D space, you feel alone, as you are locked inside a small room populated with a lone table and chair, and what looks like explosion marks on the wall and floor.
The first handful of modules are easy to get through, as long as your communication remains constant and clear with the so-called Experts reading the manual. Color coded wires is one of the modules you’ll see the most, but things can spiral out of control as there are different instructions based on the sheer number of wires, their orientation, and even color. Later, you’ll be matching strange symbols on a keypad, playing Simon Says, and even interpreting a radio signal for Morse code.
Inside the VR headset, the game controls using a DualShock 4 controller. You can easily select the different modules and either can tilt the controller to rotate it around, or simply use the right stick, which works much better. There are however distractions that will occur while attempting to save your life, such as needing to turn off an alarm clock that will pierce your eardrum with a loud buzz occasionally.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is an enjoyable local multiplayer experience, and one I plan to return to during gatherings. The enjoyment comes from the frantic communication or lack of communication between The Experts and the person trying to defuse the bomb. Regardless of who we had disarming the bomb, everyone stepped away enjoying the experience and wanting to play more.
Note: The review for Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.