Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (A unique take on a tired trope)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

As a red-blooded American who was raised by an unhealthy dose of TV as a child, I am on a first name basis with the common action trope of frantic bomb defusal. We all know it; someone is trapped with a bomb/warhead capable of terrible destructive power. No one can get in or out. The expert in defusing just this explosive item has to talk our inexperienced hero through the process via some sort of lifeline. The red numerals tick down closer and closer to the big Kaboom. Will they ever make it in time??

Red wire. No! Blue Wire!!
This scenario is trotted out quite often in TV and movies (it's a pet peeve of mine) whenever I come across it I tend to roll my eyes. This kind of thing is a hard sell for me, usually.

Steel Crate Games has managed to distill the "Bomb Defusal Dilemma" into Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes a fresh, challenging game initially developed during the 2014 Global Game Jam. The game's setup is simple, a single player (through the use of a VR headset) is isolated in a virtual room with a bomb. In the real world, the second player (or many people) have a printed manual to disarm the bomb. Neither the isolated bomb defuser or the manual holder can see what each other has. All they can do is talk their way through the problem and hope that they can work out the solution as a team before the timer runs out.

Steven Hammond and I had the chance to sit down and play Keep Talking at PAX Prime. There was an impressive line wrapping around the side of the Indie Mega Booth, filled with people eager to try their hand at the bomb defusing arts. The developers had set up a small leader board with some dauntingly impressive solve times posted. I have to say that going in I was a little cocky about how we would perform when we had our turn. Steve and I communicate fairly well, surely the basic bomb would be a breeze.

How wrong I was. Steve wore the head set and I handled the manual. I stammered, scribbled nonsensical notes, and did just about everything but help poor Steve with his bomb. Kablooie, we were toast. Switching roles, we gave it another go. We fared a little better this time, somewhat wiser about the process, and successfully disarmed the bomb, but my ego had still taken a blow. If we should ever be placed in a MacGyver-esque situation where lives depend on our ability to disarm explosives, I am sorry in advance.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is currently in development for PC with and unspecified release date some time this fall. It is intended to played with a VR headset like Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, or Playstation Morpheus. Though it is possible to set up some sort of situation without VR, (say via Skype) I highly recommend using a headset. The instant immersion and sense of isolation the headset lends is crucial to the experience.

Have an eye on their website for a release date (hopefully) soon and in mean time, keep those wire cutters handy.