Welcome to the dangerous and challenging world of bomb defusing.
A couple of months ago, I moved to Sweden. Thrust out of my comfort zone into unfamiliar territory, I found myself in a “student corridor”. My corridor has eleven people of varied ethnicity, race and culture. Germany, Italy, South Africa, India, Greece, Thailand, America, Poland, China, Sweden coexist in this tiny little corridor. Each of us have our own room/apartment, but since we share a kitchen, we get ample opportunity to interact with each other because, let’s be honest, nobody talks to their neighbours anymore. This common kitchen cum dining room has also become our movie theatre, dance hall, and the place where “Do you wanna listen to some Belinda Blinked?” leads to a night of hilarity.
Last night we had a crêpe party. There are two words in that last sentence that are nothing less than a conundrum for me. I’m an introvert. I don’t do parties. I am usually the guy hiding in the corner at a party. And I’m a terrible cook. I don’t do fancy stuff like crêpes. I stick with things I know how to make, which basically narrows down to rice. Fortunately, one of us had a cool crêpe making machine, and I discovered I am rather good at making the base. After a sumptuous meal, when the awkward silence started to creep in, I decided to bite the bullet.
“Do you wanna play a game?”
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a local co-op game where players can choose between the role of bomb defuser and bomb experts. The defuser does the traditional video game stuff — look at a screen, press the right buttons. The experts sit across the defuser and use a manual to give instructions on how to get rid of the bomb. The defuser can’t look at the manual, the experts can’t look at the bomb. This leads to a situation similar to all those action films where the hero shouts at the person on the other end of the walkie-talkie asking whether he should cut the red wire or the blue.
(When I say “a situation similar to,” I do mean that. What will start as a rather easy going gaming experience will soon turn into panicked screams of “WHAT DO I DO?!!”)
The bomb is made of modules. To successfully defuse the bomb, you need to get all the modules on the bomb right within the time limit. The bomb defuser looks at the bomb and describes what they see on the modules, while the experts try to make sense of the description and guide the defuser through. It a simple premise; but it’s not.
“I see a keypad with weird symbols on it. Looks kinda Greek.”
“Okay. Go on.”
“Yeah so, uh, one of them is a triangle with three whiskers of… moustache?”
As fun as it was, I was concerned that the game would grow stale. On the contrary, the more we played it, the more fun it got. Even though we got really good at certain modules and breezed through them (wires, button, for example), the game kept throwing new challenges at us (Morse code, ‘Who’s On First’, among so many), and adding distractions like noises, power outrages, etc.
If you ever get tired of board games like Dungeons and Dragons (blasphemy!) or party games like Cards Against Humanity, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes would certainly help shake things up. It indeed worked for our party! We ended up playing for hours — screaming, shouting, panicking, but also, laughing, bonding, having a good time. This is such a fresh approach to traditional gaming — transcending genres — that once again we make a departure from our traditional article structure to review this game.
PS: There’s a VR version too, in case you don’t find this stressful enough!