Imagine this– it’s Friday night and you’re going to have a few friends over for drinks. You assess your entertainment options. There’s Cards Against Humanity which has, quite frankly, stopped being fun five years ago. Of course, you can always boot up the old Xbox One and get your friends to play Jackbox Party Pack, however, that’s been old hat for a while. Super Mario Party is still two months out from its release date and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is so far off at times it seems like a mirage. Sure, you can try to turn your friends onto a fun indie multiplayer game like Slam Land or (the incredibly underrated) Super Sportmatchen, however, you understand that your casual, non-gamer friends will be operating at a slight disadvantage.
A good party game has two essential components; a low barrier to entry and the ability to be replayed infinitely. While many games manage to craft joyful multiplayer experiences, these experiences are often locked behind a certain skill level that most non-gamers find off-putting. As easy as it is for a gamer to pick up Overcooked 2 and quickly get into the swing of things, asking the same of someone who’s never held a game controller would be somewhat foolish.
Enter Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a party game so good that you’ll feel bad for ever playing Jenga.
The central gameplay loop of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is pretty simple– the game forces you and your friends to defuse a bomb. However, there’s an important caveat; the person defusing the bomb is unable to look at the bomb’s manual, while the people looking at the instruction manual are unable to look at the bomb. This division of labor stresses the need for comprehensive, yet succinct communication. Quick communication is a necessity considering that the bomb will detonate if numerous mistakes are made or if time runs out.
Prior to this week, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes was only available for VR compatible platforms. On these devices, the player holding the bomb would be wearing a VR headset ensuring that they were the only person that could see the bomb. When the game was announced for consoles earlier this summer I was curious as to how this would translate to traditional, non-VR platforms.
As I assumed, the game simply tells other players not to look at the screen. Considering the way that most living rooms are set up, I imagine that it would be hard for players to keep their friends honest without doing a little furniture rearranging. However, the Nintendo Switch version of the game has a much simpler, elegant solution.
Upon starting Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes I simply took the Switch out of its dock. Instead of having the bomb viewable on my television, I held the Switch and stood in front of my friends as if I were playing a game of charades. This small change not only made the game more authentic to its original experience, it also allowed my friends and I to play the game wherever we wanted. Instead of being forced to sit in front of a television, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’ Switch port allows you to bring the game to the dining room table, the backyard, or anywhere else.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes gracefully checks all of the boxes of a party-staple. More than anything, I’m excited to have friends over again soon to give it another whirl.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is now available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Oculus VR, PlayStation VR, Gear VR, Daydream, PC, OS X, and Linux. The game will be released tomorrow on the Xbox One.