In comparison to the modern videogame industry, the current world of VR is still a newborn baby. True consumer virtual reality (VR) really only started in late 2015 with the arrival of Samsung’s Gear VR. Most of those early games wouldn’t stand up to today’s scrutiny, but some can, and are still available. One that still holds a special place in my heart is Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.
Made by Steel Crate Games, the game was (and still is) innovative in its use of new VR technology and more traditional boardgame mechanics. The gist is simple, the VR player has a bomb inside a box to diffuse with various puzzles and information on its exterior. These can range from coloured wires to cut to pressing buttons in a certain order.
Blind bomb diffusing
However, they’ve got no clue as to what to do. That information can only be supplied by all the other players (or Experts) who have a printed manual. The manual provides the solution depending on different variables – clues found around the bomb. Therefore, the solutions aren’t instantly simple to find and decipher. Plus the harder the level, the more puzzles there are to solve. Communication is key, and with the bomb on a timer, tensions can soon rise as everyone scrambles to solve the puzzles as quickly as possible.
Whether you were in VR or one of the external players, what made Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes great was the multiplayer element. Not just because it worked so well, but because in that era all the VR detractors kept on saying VR was isolating and lacked the social element. Even Nintendo chimed in and they made the Labo VR kit for Switch!
Here was a game that proved them all wrong. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes was a perfect example of out-of-the-box thinking, marrying two worlds together into one harmonious experience. Which few have managed since. The methodology was straightforward, everyone knows how to cut a wire, press a button or flick a switch, it is instinctive. The joy was in the fact that neither side knew exactly what was going on, teamwork was critical. And in that way, everybody was invested in the outcome.
Great family demo
When I first demoed VR to friends and family, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes was one of my prime examples. People were intrigued by the gameplay and because it could be played seated, with no locomotion, was entirely comfortable for all.
Thankfully, Steel Crate Games ensured the game didn’t become resigned to the VR history books. It was ported over to the Meta Quest platform in 2019 so you can still buy it today. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes has also been ported to PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Android and Apple mobile devices.
Naturally, we’d recommend the VR version if you’ve got a compatible headset. If you’ve bought Meta’s new headset then you also might want to check out these Quest 2 games for VR beginners.