Review: KEEP TALKING AND NOBODY EXPLODES (2015)

Welcome to the dangerous and challenging world of bomb defusing.

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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?”
“Wait, what?”

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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!

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Review: THE STANLEY PARABLE (2013)

Review: SUPERHOT (2016)

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Review: WATCH DOGS 2 (2016)

Press ‘E’ to hack the world.

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Watch Dogs 2 (or Watch_Dogs 2) is the second entry to Ubisoft’s attempt to create a GTA rival. The player takes on the role Marcus Holloway, a common guy (with out of the world hacking skills) who was targeted by the ctOS and flagged for a crime he did not commit. Throughout the game, Marcus tries to bring down Blume and the ctOS by hacking his way through various missions.

Is It Worth?

In my opinion, yes! I played the first Watch_Dogs and am familiar with the problems it had and the things it missed out on. Watch_Dogs 2 looks to fix those things, which in my opinion, is how a company should work. They listened to fan feedback and created a game which is fun and worth a try. That being said, remember this is Ubisoft which means that micro-transactions are a part of the game and they want you to buy the season pass and other DLC as well.

A little about the Gameplay

Playing as Marcus Holloway in the beautiful San Francisco, the world is yours to hack. The game allows you to hack gates, camera, and vehicles and also to call the police or rival gangs if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. The best part of the game is hands down your RC and drone. To anyone starting the game, buy these two as soon as possible. I believe that most of the missions in the game can be finished without entering the play area if you know how to use the drone and the RC.

For those who prefer a more ‘hands-on’ approach, you can always equip your weapon and go through the goons leaving dead bodies in your wake. However, Watch_Dogs 2 is most fun when you’re hacking your way through problems, not blowing them up. Frankly, Marcus looks good with his laptop, not his sniper rifle. That being said if you wanna blow shit up, the game lets you do that.

The game also follows a standard skill tree system, where completing missions gives you research points that you can use to upgrade your skills, weapon handling, hacking speed, etc. No need to fret if you choose something wrong as the game gives you enough research points to be fully upgraded by the time the final mission rolls in.

The Good

1: The cast. I feel that the biggest problem with the first Watch Dogs was that it had no memorable characters. Ezio, Tommy Vercetti, Trevor, CJ, etc. are all identifiable characters who made their game memorable. Aiden Pearce was nowhere close to them as he had zero personality and could have been a blank placeholder.

Marcus Holloway, on the other hand, is full of personality and vibe, which makes the game infinitely more enjoyable. Along with him, the rest of Dedsec is just as fun. Josh, Sitara, T-Bone (returning from the previous game) — and my absolute favourite Wrench — are truckloads of fun. These are people I would love to be friends with, IRL.

2: The setting. Watch_Dogs 2 exists in the beautiful city of San Francisco. And when I say beautiful, I mean fucking gorgeous. The city is teeming with life and you can spend hours in various places looking for landmarks and monuments. Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz prison and the Silicon Valley are just some of the places you can go and have fun at. Play the game in 1080p full HD and watch yourself be blown away.

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3: The fun. Watch_Dogs 2 actively makes fun of everything pop culture. It pokes fun at Martin Shkreli, Donald Trump, Google, Facebook, Space X and everything else. They don’t take names of course (Google is Nudle, Facebook is !nvite and so on) but it’s so much fun that you just can’t stop laughing. Also, the game does have Ubisoft San Francisco office, in case it is not enough meta for you.

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“Talk to me in 21st century memes.”

The Bad

1: Not enough mission variety. It is not game breaking, but most of the game boils down to ‘go there, hack that, run away’. I believe that is something unavoidable in a game about hacking, about a few missions with different structures would have been more fun. There are a few racing missions in there, but not enough.

2: The story. Taking down Blume forms the overarching narrative of the game, but when broken down into smaller parts it does not seem to have any direction. The missions are broken down into parts, but each part is more about a character/company to be taken down. Tying in a little bit better would have been better!

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3: The antagonist. Dusan Nemec as the main antagonist fails to make an impact. As the CTO of Blume, he does not seem intimidating enough even when he effectively takes down the entire Dedsec single-handedly.

Conclusion

Ubisoft have breathed a new life into the Watch Dogs series with a fun new cast and great setting! Even if the sales numbers are not as high as expected, I would recommend this game as it’s the step in the right direction. Watch Dogs 2 has laid down a great foundation, and future entries should use this as the inspiration. That being said, please do not make it into a GTA clone. Watch Dogs has its personality and does not need to be anything else.

Games Rewired has given you the truth. Do what you will.

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Review: BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES (2016)

Who do you want to play as?

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Batman: The Telltale Series is an episodic point-and-click adventure role-playing video game developed by Telltale Games. The player assumes the role of both Batman and Bruce Wayne. While Bruce Wayne finds himself in the treacherous waters of Gotham politics, Batman comes across an unusual villain.

Is It Worth?

If you are hardcore Batman fan, you might want to check this out. You may not like the little change they do in Batman’s mythos to tell their tale (see what I did there?), but this is definitely worth a play if you follow Batman’s adventures across various mediums. For the casual fan, you won’t miss much if you skip this.

A little about the Gameplay

The writers take us back in the early history of the character for this story, when Bruce is still finding his groove as Batman. Commissioner Gordon is not Commissioner Gordon yet; Harvey Dent is not Two-Face yet; Batman has not faced any of his Rogues yet – no Joker, no Catwoman, no Penguin. The story introduces all these characters and more. However, it really picks up when Bruce finds himself at a crossroads, as his family’s legacy is brought under question. Were the Waynes really the shining beacon of light we are told they were? Was Gotham ever truly in a “golden age”?

Speaking of gameplay, if you are familiar with the Telltale Games formula, you’ll feel right at home here. Batman: The Telltale Series doesn’t alter much from that tried and tested recipe. The player can examine and interact with characters and items around him. He can also decide the nature of those interactions.

The Good

1: It feels redundant writing this again, and I think write this every time for a Telltale Games game, but the game offers no binary choices. There are no “good” or “bad” choices here.

When I first heard that Telltale Games were doing a Batman game, I wondered how would they introduce this ambiguity. He is a good guy at his core, if you take away the badass, almost antihero bullshit. At best, you could push the choices into the grey area. You can’t make him cross the line. But, like I mentioned earlier, the writers make a tiny change in Batman mythos and Bruce Wayne has to make some tough choices. And so does the Batman.

2: Telltale Games smartly try not to make this a punching game or a gliding game. Rocksteady’s Arkham series has already perfected that. Instead, they focus on the detective aspect of Batman. They go beyond the scan crime scene are to analyse blood splatter pattern stuff.

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The Detective Mode of Batman: The Telltale Series also allows you to plan your combat.

3: It might be called Batman: The Telltale Series, but it is as much a Bruce Wayne game as it a Batman game. We were promised that you play nearly equal amounts as Batman and as Bruce Wayne. While I didn’t time it, I do think the ratio is indeed somewhere 50-50.

The Bad

1: This is probably just me, but I found my choices to have not altered the story much. Spoilers ahead: I saved Harvey Dent from the Penguin so he didn’t turn into Two-Face, but his actions in the game following that were still very Two-Face-y. This was not like The Walking Dead where one big choice during the gameplay took the story to a completely new direction. Again, I think this is because you can’t really deviate from the mythos much.

2: I really liked the plot of the first episode. After that, however, it got uninteresting. Barring a few moments, the rest of the story left me underwhelmed. And don’t get me started on the abused little girl cliché. Do better, writers.

3: Action sequences are basically quick time events. But that is to be expected, I guess, considering this is a Telltale Games game.

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Conclusion

Telltale Games manage to do a smart new spin on the Batman mythos. Play this if you like Telltale Games stuff. Play this if you like Batman stuff.

You may also like:

Review: BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM (2009)

Review: BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (2011)

Review: BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (2011) DLC: HARLEY QUINN’S REVENGE

Review: BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS (2013)

Review: BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT (2015)

Review: THE WALKING DEAD (2012)

Review: THE WALKING DEAD DLC (2012): 400 DAYS

Review: THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON TWO (2014)

Review: THE WOLF AMONG US (2014)

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