Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
|Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes|
|Developer(s)||Steel Crate Games|
|Publisher(s)||Steel Crate Games|
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a video game developed by Steel Crate Games released in October 2015. The game tasks a player with disarming procedurally generated bombs with the assistance of other players who are reading a manual containing instructions. The game was designed around virtual reality support, with availability first on Microsoft Windows with later ports to supported devices on OS X, Linux, Android, and PlayStation 4, though could be played without virtual reality in some cases. An update for the game to be released in August 2018 will remove the virtual reality requirement for these existing systems as well as include releases for the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.
The game is designed to be played with at least two players, with one player as the "Defuser", playing the game on a computer (supporting both keyboard and mouse, touchscreen and gamepad controls, as well as support for virtual reality headsets), and the remaining players as the "Experts" reading the provided bomb defusal manual. As designed, the Defuser cannot look at the manual and must rely on the Experts to instruct him or her; likewise, the Experts cannot see the bomb and must rely on the Defuser to describe the bomb to them. Communicating with each other occurs either directly from across a table, or through online communication software.
Each bomb in the game consists of multiple modules; the modules are independent of each other and can be disarmed in any order. Most modules require disarming, with the bomb successfully disarmed when all such modules are successfully disarmed. Disarming these modules requires the Defuser to relay visual indicators to the Experts, who then use the manual to determine what actions the Defuser to take. Other modules are needy; they cannot be disarmed and demand periodic attention to prevent them from going off while the bomb is still armed. Each bomb will also have a countdown timer that, if it hits zero, will cause the bomb to go off. Bombs will also have a maximum number of strikes resulting from errors made during defusing (also speeding the timer), and if that maximum is reached, the bomb will also go off. Other obstacles to the Defuser include the lights in the virtual room going out momentarily, and alarm clocks that will distract the Defuser.
Modules use complex instruction sets and puzzle-like elements to be solved; for example, the Experts may need to guide the Defuser through a maze that the Defuser cannot see the walls of. Other modules use words that may be homophones of other similar words ("sees" to "seas") or be verbal tics ("uhhh" or "uh huh") that could easily be confused during communication between Defuser and Experts. Many modules have multiple stages that require the Experts to keep track of past actions as they work through each stage. Defusing some modules may also depend on the state of the bomb such as how many strikes it presently has, or external decorations on the bomb like the serial number or the presence of batteries.
The game is broken up into a number of predetermined levels broken up into skill groupings that set the number and types of modules, the time to defuse the bomb, and the maximum number of strikes. Each level will generate the bomb and its modules to be defused in a procedural manner. Players also can create a custom challenge based on module count, time, and strikes.
Developers Allen Pestaluky, Ben Kane, and Brian Fetter originally created the game for Global Game Jam 2014. There, they had a few Oculus Rift development kits and wanted to take advantage of the novelty of virtual reality. Their original game, a rollercoaster ride simulator, had attracted a number of people to try it out, but the three observed that while the wearer of the headset was enjoying themselves, those waiting for their turn did not share that enjoyment. This gave them the idea of a game that could be shared alike by both a headset wearer and those watching the wearer. Though they had several scenarios in mind, the idea of bomb defusing was the most interesting as well as something they could complete during the Game Jam. At the end of the Game Jam, they presented their game to the other participating developers, recording their own first playthrough of the game which they later posted to YouTube; the response both at the Game Jam and from YouTube viewers, calling the game "hilarious", led the three to realize they were on to a marketable title and developed the game for a full release. In developing the various rules for disarming modules, these were initially created procedurally like the bombs themselves, so that they could be shifted around between various demonstrates at trade shows; though the final game has statically defined rules for defusing, there is a framework in place that can be used to mix up the rules in future versions.
A PlayStation VR version of the game was released on October 13, 2016, while a version for the Android-based Google Daydream virtual reality platform was released on November 10, 2016. Steel Crate has announced plans to release a non-VR version for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One on August 16, 2018; this will be a free update for existing owners of the game.
The PC version of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes received "mixed or average" reviews while the PlayStation 4 version received "generally favorable reviews", according to review aggregator Metacritic.
Destructoid awarded it a score of 9 out of 10, saying "If you are tired of always playing Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly, and that Gargoyles board game on Laserdisc, then Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes will certainly give you the fix you're looking for, pending you have friends ready to be committed to the task at hand. If not, Gargoyles is always a good choice."
Ars Technica's Sam Machkovech reviewed the game, calling it a "must-have", although he also noted that once players figure out certain modules, they can "hit a chore-like rhythm" instead of a challenge. He also observed the game's potential as a party game that is equally enjoyable for onlookers.
At the 2015 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) awards Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes won Game, Strategy. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes won the Excellence in Design award and was nominated for the Seamus McNally Grand Prize and the Nuovo Award for Innovation for the 2016 Independent Games Festival. Steel Crate Games was nominated for the Best Debut for the game for the 2016 Game Developers Choice Awards, and the 2016 British Academy Games Awards. The Official UK PlayStation Magazine listed it as the third best PS VR game.
By March 2016, the game had sold more than 200,000 copies.
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- "Review: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 15 December 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes review: The exact opposite of a bomb". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
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