Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes places you in the shoes of someone you'd never want to be in reality: a bomb disposal expert. As the PlayStation VR player, you're faced with a bomb that must be disarmed within a time limit. The catch, however, is the manual is in the hands of your fellow friends and family. What could possibly go wrong?
The game is entirely multiplayer-focused, requiring at least two people to play: one person using the VR headset as the diffuser, and the other players using the TV as instructors. This is a very interesting new concept VR has introduced, that works a treat for this game especially, allowing players on the TV to see something different to the player on the headset. That said, there are a few moments throughout the game where it would have been nice for the TV players to see something other than the instruction manual – especially at the end of each round when the bomb is defused. Without being able to see the results page, the instructors lose the sense of accomplishment, as the VR player has to report on how they did.
There are multiple bombs you must dispose of, each having different puzzles on them, called modules, that you must complete for the bomb to be disarmed. These modules are different every time you play a level so there is no way you can memorise a bomb, to beat it really fast. Instead you have to rely on your communication skills with your partner in order to complete the puzzles swiftly and accurately.
There is a lot on offer in terms of gameplay; puzzles start off very simple, with a basic coloured wire cutting module, and gradually get more difficult as the game progresses with the likes of Morse code and Venn diagrams to decipher. Every module's solutions are detailed in the extensive 23 page instruction manual, however it's purposefully complex to extract the required information from it. Therefore it's necessary to have a quick-thinking partner to lend a hand and give you the best opportunity of getting to the top of the leaderboards. The advance in difficulty never feels unfair as the game slowly introduces new modules one at a time as not to overwhelm you.
The controls are rather simple for both players, with the TV players only having to navigate their way through the instruction manual with a flick of the analogue stick. The VR player uses the analogue sticks to rotate the bomb and the X button to select modules to work on. The simple control scheme makes it a very viable option to play when you have a group of friends round as it won't take long for everyone to get the hang of the controls.
This game is the perfect example of a concept that works really well and is really enjoyable to play in VR, and it's a social experience at the same time by encouraging communication and interaction with others. The visuals in the headset are definitely a lot better than the majority of VR titles; although there aren't any vast areas to look around – you are just sat in a room with a desk – the sense of scale and immersion is still very impressive. One of the clever people here at Push Square Towers even tried to lean on that desk it felt so real. (Disclaimer: No Push Square staff were injured in the making of this review.)
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes utilises the PlayStation VR headset superbly to create an excellently immersive, couch co-op experience, with tight controls that make it easily accessible for new players. The gameplay is enjoyable, and there is plenty on offer in terms of replayability to keep you coming back for more.