Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Game Poster Image
Excellent VR puzzler teaches kids to cooperate, communicate.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about problem-solving, teamwork in this bomb-defusing simulation game. Players have to communicate quickly, clearly, effectively to solve puzzles. Person defusing bomb needs to verbally describe what's seen so other player can recognize it in digital manual. Then person reading manual needs to figure out what to do, relay proper instructions. Puzzles involve feats of memory, understanding proper spelling of similar-sounding words, reading comprehension.  

Positive Messages

Promotes teamwork by showing how two minds working together can overcome problems.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No visible or speaking characters, but players assume role of a bomb-defusing technician working to deactivate deadly devices.

Ease of Play

Puzzles are challenging to start, quickly grow even more difficult. Success depends not on physical skill, reflexes but rather player's problem-solving ability. Playing with more than minimum two players can potentially make game easier. 

Violence

No on-screen death, violence. If players fail to disarm a bomb, screen will go black, they'll hear rather than see an explosion.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a downloadable cooperative bomb-defusing puzzle game designed for virtual reality. Working as a team, one player sits in a room with a ticking time bomb and describes what he or she sees so the other player (or players) can figure out what to do by looking at a digital bomb-defusing manual. Success demands efficient communication and strong problem-solving skills. While this is a game about bombs, it doesn't visually depict explosions or injuries. Failure results in the sound of an explosion and the screen going black. Parents should be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

KEEP TALKING AND NOBODY EXPLODES is, as its title suggests, all about communication. Working as a team of two or more players, one wears the PlayStation VR headset and functions as the person defusing the bomb. He or she sits in a small room in front of a table with a ticking time bomb containing several puzzles that must be solved before it can be deactivated. The other player (or players) look at the TV and flip through a digital bomb-defusing manual, providing instructions on how to deal with each puzzle. The key for both players is to quickly and clearly communicate important information. The bomb defuser must accurately describe what he or she sees, and the person reading the manual must understand what's said and then deliver simple instructions on what to do. Puzzles are diverse and range from simple (figuring out which wires need to be cut or whether to tap or press and hold an abort button) to complex (deciphering a Morse code message or remembering the order in which you pressed a series of numbers on buttons with changing labels). The game begins with easier puzzles but quickly advances to extremely difficult bombs. Larger groups of well-organized players can help make some puzzles a bit easier.

Is it any good?

Cooperative puzzle games aren’t very common, but rarer still are cooperative puzzle games as good as this one. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is challenging and stressful, but it’s also a fun bonding experience thanks to its brilliantly designed conundrums. Navigating a path through an invisible maze based solely on directions spoken by a friend is hard but satisfying -- kind of like landing a plane while being directed by an air traffic controller. And riddling out the solution to a numbers puzzle by memorizing the position of the buttons you recently pressed on a constantly changing number pad requires no small amount of teamwork (you may want to consider pulling out a pen and notepad). Then, just when you think you're in a groove and have everything figured out, a siren will start blaring to distract you, or, worse, the lights will go out. You'll need to stay on your toes, think fast, and never stop communicating.

While Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a launch game for PlayStation VR, virtual reality doesn't really add a lot to the experience -- mostly because the designers didn't do much with it. The PlayStation Move controllers aren't even supported (you'll play with a regular gamepad), so you don't get to see a pair of virtual hands manipulating the bomb or pressing buttons. All VR does is create the impression that you're sitting in a different room and perhaps enhance the player's sense of immersion in a couple of situations -- such as when the power goes and the lights in the room switch off). That said, the misapplication of VR doesn't hurt what's otherwise a very fun co-op puzzler. Whether playing with friends or family, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a blast.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of reading. This game requires players not only to be able to read quickly but also to comprehend what they read so they can communicate instructions to the other player, so what sorts of things would you be unable to do in the real world if you didn't know how to read well?

  • Talk about teamwork. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes can only be played and won by a team of at least two players working together, so what sorts of jobs and tasks in the real world require groups of at least two people to work together?

Game details

For kids who love puzzles

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