Look at how much fun they’re having! It’s all lies! No one maintains this much of a relaxed demeanor with a timer quickly cycling to zero. Today we’re going to take a fresh look at the newly released bomb defusal game, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.
So, what exactly is Keep Talking? Well thematically there’s not much going on. You’re in what looks like a military bomb-testing facility with a suitcase-sized explosive device wired with all manner of devilish puzzles to solve. It’s intended to be a multiplayer experience with the bomb technician viewing the device and giving information to assistants who have access to a manual. I’m sure it could be played single player but what are we, psychopaths?
So, like any normal person, I teamed up with two buddies on stream and decided to save the world over and over and over again.
The puzzles are intuitive in their design giving you the classic “which wire should I cut”, symbols and ciphers, enticing buttons, and freaking Morse Code! Yes, if you’re a sailor or were born in the 1800’s, please contact me, we need help with that part.
Don’t even get me started on the alarms that blare, the gas ventilation, and the lights that turn off at every opportunity. Granted, it’s only for higher difficulties, but the challenge is graciously accepted. I couldn’t help but feel that the room was trying to kill me, and in some cases perhaps my own team was trying to kill me. It was funny, to me at least, when you hear a string of numbers and out of nowhere the deafening cry of an alarm clock shocks you into a state of disarray. It was like calling the ISS inside a herd of elephants, something I would totally do over and over again.
The fantastic heart-pounding action track from the blast end of the timer was even more invigorating as it gave you a solid minute to relinquish fear through your steadily evacuating sweat glands.
It’s all in good fun though. On several occasions we had never dealt with a particular module and decided to wing it. We found, through trial and error, that the instructions are articulated in a way that makes them fair but punishing to those who don’t pay close attention. It can get confusing at times, but perfect play with practice and the ideal adage “Keep talking” both ring true for anyone who plays this several times.
After awhile the initiated quickly develop a shorthand and the vocabulary becomes secondary. At least that was our experience. We love puzzles and couldn’t help but fall victim to KTaNE‘s enticing throes. Perhaps the biggest draw is getting multiple people together and developing a multi-tiered operation. We traded information at everything less than lightning speed all to one source who had to process and execute each order with impunity or else, you know, we all die. It was the people who made the bomb interesting, who added the element of imperfection to a very by-the-numbers experience.
For being a mechanically technical game KTaNE utilizes abstraction and the necessity of interpersonality to do what party games do best: create an atmosphere of raw enjoyment. Time is the enemy, the bomb is the obstacle, and together the engagement of friends or family steps KTaNE above other couch co-ops. One screw up might lead to death, but everyone is responsible. The resets are easy and the time it takes to disarm a bomb is nearly microscopic, so if you fail then there’s no hard feelings. You just move to the next challenge and keep on trucking.
Denying this game any modesty, I can say without a doubt that I’m seriously excited for the next step in Steel Crate Games’ IP. And given that I have yet to master all the puzzles and permutations, I can’t even imagine how many hours I’m going to kill(pun intended) inside that cold and dark concrete-padded room, but at least I know I won’t be alone.