Finding People to Play with is Half the Battle
You might notice that our Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Review has arrived almost 2 weeks after it’s release date. The primary reason for this was the difficulty of finding people to play with. The game itself is very well put together, and the only social game out there for Gear VR that involves an enjoyable local multiplayer experience. However, if you lead a busy life or lack a group of friends who are willing to spend time playing together, it might be wise to hold off throwing down the $9.99 on Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes until either your situation changes or a badly needed online multiplayer feature is added.
In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes by Steel Crate Games, one person wears a Gear VR, trying to diffuse a bomb through a series of puzzles, while the other players help them achieve this goal through a purposely confusing bomb manual. The player with the Gear VR is in a room with a ticking time bomb in front of them. On the bomb are multiple puzzles that present challenges such as wire cutting, a game of memory, interpreting symbols, among others. No controller is required, and all the interaction is done through use of the Gear VR touchpad. It is important for the player to swipe on the touchpad, which rotates the bomb and is critical in solving certain puzzles.
With the timer counting down, the players without the headset must work their hardest to communicate back and forth with the main player in order to solve all the puzzles before the bomb explodes. This is a very tense situation the first time through for the person with the headset on, as they are expecting a bomb to blow up in their face. After the first failure to diffuse the bomb, which will happen, that player will realize the only thing they are met with upon failing to diffuse the bomb is a boom sound with the screen turning black.
The lack of a visual effect really takes away from the tension involved with diffusing the bomb. The challenge level and incredible gameplay make this tolerable in subsequent playthroughs. It’s loads of fun to get together with a group of friends and work through diffusing these bombs, and can get quite intense as tempers flare. This will be the true test of your friendships/marriage. Even playing with complete strangers, there was plenty of shouting back and forth over miscommunication (disclaimer: VR Pill is located in NYC. That could attribute to the tempers of the players).
If you enjoy playing board games like Apples to Apples or Curses, and know other people who feel the same way, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes will be a blast (yep I see what I did there) to play. There is however a significant time investment required to explain how everything works. This is even truer when it is their first time experiencing VR. I appreciate that the devs did all they could to help with gameplay mechanics, including an informative explanation prior to the first stage, and an ever present poster on the wall in each room with a quick control refresher.
I have played Keep Talking with multiple New Yorkers, coworkers, friends, and even my folks. For many of them, it was their first time with VR, which will most likely be the case for most people early adopters play with. It took many of them multiple playthroughs, even after explaining the game, to understand how it worked. Some friends got too frustrated to continue. The best success I had was playing with other Gear VR owners, who caught on very quickly to the game’s mechanics.
So let’s say you have others to play with on a consistent basis who understand the mechanics and enjoy the game. It will be months before you complete Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. There are 6 sections which include 28 stages to complete, and things start getting difficult after just the 2nd section. The amount of modules (the puzzles) will increase to cover both sides of the bomb, and at later stages as the timer nears zero other distractions such as lights flickering on/off and loud noises will be present that make it that much harder to maintain focus. I had a chance to talk with one of the devs over a VoIP gameplay session, and even he admits the developers struggled through the last 2 sections. There is a lot of bang for your buck in that $9.99 price tag.
Even if you and your friends master every single stage in the game, there is a Free Play Mode available where everything can be altered from the time to the amount of modules. “Needy” can be selected to place modules that are unable to be solved but present additional distractions during play. Hardcore Mode leaves no room for error, as the first mistake will result in the bomb exploding (the usual amount of strikes is 3).
Graphics & Performance
The graphics are nothing that will make you jump out of your seat, but being VR, even the simplest of graphics done correctly will impress. There are two environments in Keep Talking: the main menu room and the room where you will be defusing bombs. The latter will be where most of your time is spent, and feels like a run down room in an abandoned warehouse. The walls are damaged to your right and left, presumably from those before who failed to diffuse the bomb.
This simple graphical style allows the performance to shine, which is very important in a social game such as Keep Talking, where the Gear VR will constantly be passed between players. I found no significant problems with overheating on the Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, and as a result was able to engage in very long play sessions. There were very few instances where the Gear VR overheated, and even these were after extended play. The game is still playable even after the overheating message appears.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Conclusion
While finding a group to play Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes with might be a challenge for some, there is a Mumble VoIP channel to find others to play with. It currently requires scheduling with other Redditors unless you enjoy sitting in an empty room for hours waiting for someone to join, but hopefully as more players get their hands on this excellent title, the community will grow.
With effective gameplay mechanics, a strong local multiplayer, and an incredibly unique concept, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes will be the kind of VR game you will see people still playing years from now at parties and gatherings. It’s not a matter of if you should pick up Keep Talking, but when.