The lines between the worlds of board games and video games are becoming increasingly blurred as games like Mansions of Madness, Fuse, Unlock and dozens of others use mandatory app integration. However unlike some purists I am not losing my head over this encroaching technology, in fact I embrace it.
And of course we are now experiencing games which go the other way, taking traditional video game designs, like point and click adventures and transferring them to cardboard, such as 7th Continent, T.I.M.E Stories and Legacy of Dragonholt.
All of this preamble is really just my way of justifying reviewing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes as a board game. For those who haven’t heard of Keep Talking, let’s take a quick overview.
Keep Talking is a video game but one that requires physical printed component to work, like a board game. One player sits in front of a computer running the game, while the other players sit so they cannot see the screen. These players have a bomb defusal manual in front of them which describes how different types of triggers can be disarmed by the defuser.
The defusing player begins the game and picks up the bomb or bombs on the table in front of them. They must accurately describe the bombs to their fellow players. Following the descriptions given the players flip through the manual and try to find the correct method of defusing each trigger.
When players begin the game the bombs are simple but rapidly grow more complex. The players with the manual must work together to divide up the tasks and help the defuser beat the timer.
If the players successfully defuse all the bombs in the given time they win, otherwise… well… they explode!*
Did They Like It?
Yes! Keep Talking is an experience game, it’s like nothing else out there so your first session is exhilarating as you fight against time. We took turns in the hot seat so that everyone got to experience all the roles and puzzles in the game.
Ahem… Are you forgetting about Fuse?
No… Yes, there are many cooperative board games that use a timer and even use the theme of bomb defusal, however in Keep Talking the bomb is controlled by the computer allowing for the triggers to be highly complex and endlessly replayable in a way that games like Fuse cannot.
Keep Talking is a fantastic game and a great example of what can happen when video games and board games blur those sacred lines and actually take advantage of the strengths of both mediums.
Keep Talking is not a light game, the entire time you are playing it is a highly stressful experience, but because the game actually gets your adrenaline flowing you feel a palpable sense of euphoria when it’s over. In addition, because the game uses a computer to create and run the puzzles they can be far more complex than a physical board game could allow them to be. There is also a tactile feeling to the game that would be hard to capture in cardboard as you physically cut wires and press buttons.
And talking of tactile, you can increase the sense of realism in Keep Talking by using a VR peripheral such as the Oculus Rift so that the player defusing the bomb is actually defusing the bomb in a virtual reality setting.
I cannot recommend Keep Talking highly enough. The game itself is cheaper than most board games, coming in at less than £15 and the rest of the components can be printed on any home printer for pennies. The replayability is high, we played for two hours and barely made it off the tutorial levels.The puzzles are tricky enough to be interesting even on repeat plays but easy enough to understand how they work.
Overall then I think Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a great package for gamers who enjoy puzzles and speed. This is one that will keep you on your toes and tax your brain for the whole time you are playing it, but the endorphin rewards make the stressful experience completely worth it.
*No Bobs were harmed in the making of this review… although one Vince was lightly singed!