If I had to put a definition on what “stressed but happy” meant, then I would simply mention keep talking and nobody explodes. This is a co-op game like no other and brings with it a level of communication and team work not usually seen in a video game. So, without further ado, let’s get into this ticking time bomb.
The premise of the game is that you are a bomb defusal “expert”, tasked with solving a range of puzzles within a time limit to defuse a bomb. Sounds simple enough, in theory. However, you don’t have access to the instructions required to solve these puzzles, instead a friend must tell you what to do without looking at the bomb. This kind of setup makes for some hilarious moments of yelling and stressing. It feels like a new venture to be playing something that requires you and your chosen partner to be smart enough to explain things in simple manors that can easily be translated to each other. I had the pleasure of playing this with my girlfriend from both perspectives and things can get intense. You see each bomb you diffuse has a set of around 3 or 6 modules, each with randomly created puzzles. The puzzles themselves can start frustrating as hell as you wonder if it’s even possible with the information your partner is telling you. However, the longer you work decoding each other the more efficiently you can take on the range of puzzles.
“It’s moments like this in the game that make you really appreciate the cooperative nature of the game”
One of the easier and beginner puzzles in the game involves identifying symbols on the bomb to your partner, they can then check the guide and tell you what order to push the symbols in. This was one of the most fun to play with someone as you would develop quick nicknames to yell out instead of trying to explain each character. One round of playing involved me quickly yelling out things like “The Incredibles robot! Ukrainian 6! Squiggly 3!” and my girlfriend could immediately recall what character I was referring to. It’s moments like this in the game that make you really appreciate the cooperative nature of the game and how you push the people you play with further by demanding certain keywords and phrases to beat the bomb.
When it comes to the game and the content you have present, it’s fair to say you won’t be playing this game for more than 1-2 hours at a time, it relies on such a fun and cooperative nature that it can start to feel like enough after a while. The game itself doesn’t get old as due to the random nature of the bombs you won’t find yourself remembering the exact things to do in certain bombs and thus making levels have no replay ability. The game boasts a campaign mode as you work your way up increasingly difficult bombs, some with an interesting gimmick. As you go through you begin to find new puzzles to tackle, which can make the sudden moment where you have 2 minutes left to figure out how to communicate with your partner very intense, as you beg them to read faster or to just read the manual dammit!
“One of the most original concepts in a scene of open world games”
Even if you are finding the campaign playthrough a little dull you can access a free play mode straight from the get-go. As you probably expect, free play allows you to create a custom bomb experience, allowing you to mess around how many modules the bomb has and how much time you have to solve them, also included is needy and hardcore which add to make a very difficult experience. If you can find a partner who you can construct expert level code words and tactics with then these hard bombs feel like a real victory.
I really enjoy keep talking, like a lot. It’s such a fun experience to have when you can get a friend or two over and all the shouting and beeps of the bomb make for some memorable nights you have playing. While there is all of this, I do wish there were more ways to play, most the time I expect to just play through a few levels with a friend before we get bored, perhaps someone online could work in the future. While I’m sure people might play over discord using the easily accessible guide online, I’m not sure it would carry the same weight you can get when you play with someone in person. It’s that kind of party experience that gets me pumped up tons for a good hour or so but then I find myself never thinking to open it the rest of the time. For this reason, you might have the game sitting in your library waiting to be played for most of its life.
Despite the short length of the game it makes for one of the most original concepts in a scene of open world games. I should also mention for those interested that the game features VR support making for a much more personal and intense version of the same game, I’m sure it will be hilarious to have friends literally screaming at you from outside the headset. Nothing will be able to beat the party nature of this game, I hope to see more games take a page out of this book, games work the best with friends and when you can feel like a child yelling bomb codes you know the game is a heep of fun.
I have to say this game is definitely worth a buy if you are looking for a fun experience with friends.
8/10 in my books.