The first time you play Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, you will probably fail. The bomb will explode long before you had much of a chance to defuse it, leaving you to wonder: “How the hell do I beat these levels?!” By the time you reach the end stages of the game, though, the gameplay feels like clockwork. It feels like peddling a bike perfectly in tandem with a partner.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes tasks two players with defusing a bomb before it blows up. One player has access to the bomb itself, while another player reads a bomb defusal manual to instruct the first player on what to do. The catch? Neither person is allowed to look at the item the other one has in their hands. The communication is entirely verbal. It will have to be focused and refined. Players will need to cut wires, find weird symbols, and traverse mazes to ultimately defuse the bomb. One wrong wire cut could blow everything up, so communication must be on point.
Perfecting the skill
At first, it’s a scramble. It’s hard to understand what your partner is talking about when there are weird symbols you have never seen before or instructions you haven’t dealt with before. After several hours of play, however, my partner and I quickly began picking up each other’s jargon. “Press the complex space thing,” may not mean anything to you, but when I said that to my partner, she knew exactly what I meant. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate with others when playing another game, but Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes had us communicating in some new vernacular we created while playing the game.
When everything clicks, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a special experience. After several times failing a level, it felt incredible to correctly defuse a bomb because we had perfected our communication technique. Even as the game introduced tougher modules (puzzles) and hazards, we kept up with the tougher bombs because our communication was strong.
Unfortunately, there are a few things that hold Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes back. First off, the latter levels don’t really have new modules to master. Instead, the game tweaks the existing modules and adds certain challenges to make them harder to complete. As a result, the “challenging” levels aren’t actually much harder than the earlier ones. They’re just combined into more “challenging” layouts.
I also have a gripe with one module that uses Morse code. For some reason, the game does not sound the actual Morse code; instead, it’s only seen as a blinking light. Since the long and short blinks are not that different in duration, it’s incredibly difficult to distinguish one from the other. It would have been far more manageable had the developers included audible Morse code.
Defusing on Switch
Fortunately, the Switch version of the title might be the most ideal version of the game. Defusing a bomb works best in a handheld version, where you can easily view modules from up close. Moreover, with a handheld, I could sit across from my partner and easily talk with her face to face about the instructions. It is better than having to sit across a room as might be the case on other platforms. My only complaint about the version is that there is no online play. I wish I could play via voice chat with a friend across the country. Theoretically, I could call up a friend who has printed out the defusal manual; however, I feel like I should be able to play this game online cooperatively via the actual game.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a game worth picking up if you have someone you can play with locally. The game is not only fun and fulfilling, but I genuinely think it improved communication between my partner and me. Although I wish the latter levels introduced new modules, the game still does a good job introducing new hazards and variations to keep adrenaline running until the end of the game. At 15 dollars, the game is well worth a purchase for a few nights of wonderful bomb disposal.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Eli buys virtually every Nintendo title that comes out but has expanded his collection to include amiibo. He hasn’t taken them out of their boxes, though, so he might be a bit insane. When not playing video games, Eli likes writing about politics and games. He also runs a decent amount. Outside.