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Video Game / Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

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"One player is trapped in a virtual room with a ticking time bomb they must defuse. The other players are the “Experts” who must give the instructions to defuse the bomb by deciphering the information found in the bomb defusal manual. But there’s a catch: the experts can’t see the bomb, so everyone will need to talk it out – fast!"

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a co-operative party game where one player is trapped in a room with a bomb, with no idea how to disarm it. The other player or players have a manual that explains how to dispose of the bomb, but cannot see the bomb itself. Players must communicate in order to figure out how to disarm the bomb in time.

The game was originally designed for the Oculus Rift, but also supports monitors. It was released on Steam on October 8th, 2015, and on Nintendo Switch on August 16, 2018.

This game would be something really simple if it weren't for it's massive modding community. With over 1,800 modded modules created for the game, there's no shortage of ideas. From advanced math to modules that require you to create a code through the entire bomb, practically every concept under the sun has been made into a module.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Hero: The name of the achievement for disarming your first bomb, suggesting the defuser is one.
  • All There in the Manual: The whole point of the game, actually. There is a literal bomb defusal manual that you can print out that includes instructions on how to disarm everything; all of its information is accurate, although it's definitely not simple the first time you read it. For example, in the "Simon Says"-esque module, if the yellow light is flashing twice, you can be pretty sure that the yellow button is the one you DON'T press. The color button you DO press depends on whether the bomb's serial number contains a vowel and the number of strikes you currently have against you (if any). To make things even trickier, depending on the color that is flashing and the previous two conditions mentioned, you might actually have to press the same color button as the flashing light.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Integrated into gameplay. While it is not required, knowing the language of some of the symbols in the Keypad module (like Cyrillic script or Greek) saves you the trouble of trying to describe weird-looking characters. The bomb-defuser knowing Morse code can make that module MUCH easier.
    • Both the expert and the defuser knowing any second language (as long as it is the same) can be very useful when dealing with the "Who's On First" module, as homophones can be referred to by their translation in the other language. This can save a lot of time that is usually needed to clarify just which of the same-sounding words they are referring to.
    • A series of modded modules take normal modules and translates them into a language which can be set before the bomb, except English. So, if you and the expert know the same foreign language, you can just set the modules to that language to make the modules easier.
  • Boss Battle: Certain modded modules are classified as "boss modules" and require extensive information from across the entire defusing process, often only becoming solved once you're done with most if not all of the other modules. Notable bosses include Forget Me Not (requires you to record a digit every time you solve another module, then once they're done, enter a code generated based on all those previous digits) and Souvenir (which quizzes you on the previous modules you solved - hope your expert was taking notes!).
  • Buffy Speak: The Keypad module often has defusers resorting to terms like "smiley face with a tongue out" and "looks like a caterpillar" to describe unfamiliar symbols. Knowing proper names is fine, of course, as long as both sides are on the same page; if one player knows it and the other one doesn't, you still have to resort to crude descriptions.
  • Cat Scare: For some reason, there's an alarm clock next to the bomb, which beeps at random until the disarmer hits its snooze button. When it goes off, players with less control of their nerves will jump into a panic, and even the calmest of communicators can be thrown off-balance for a moment.
  • Continuing is Painful: If you fail the memory module, you have to start it over from the beginning. On harder bombs, you might as well just restart, because the time loss is too big to overcome.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Happens easily with the Needy Vent Module.
    "Vent Gas?"
    "Vent Gas?"
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The manual has no colour whatsoever, which is so helpful for things like Complicated Wires. Have fun reading the complicated Venn diagram.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The timer tells you this, although strikes speed up the timer a bit.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Want no one to explode? Keep talking. Averted with the giant buttons, while what they say matters for figuring out how to solve them, you have to press the button, even if it says "Detonate".
  • Failed a Spot Check: Didn't even notice that some of the needy vents read "Detonate?" rather than "Vent gas?" BLAMMO!
  • Game Mod: There are over 1,800 additional modules and missions available via the Steam Workshop, as well as such craziness as double-decker bombs (allowing for up to 23 modules on one bomb, not including the timer). Some custom modules on their own send the game straight into Harder Than Hard territory (for instance, the Morsematics module. Have fun performing complex addition and subtraction using letters in Morse code! And that's considered easy by today's standards!).
    • Even more ridiculous: The Centurion, a bomb casing for 101 modules. In case that still wasn't enough, here's Twitch handling two of them at the same time!
    • Oh, you think THAT was ridiculous, you've seen nothing, boy! Presenting, THE PRAETORIAN. You thought the Centurion's 101 modules was insane? The Praetorian has 161 MODULES, SON!
  • Guide Dang It!: By design. There's no way to disarm the bomb without the information in the manual, so you better be able to communicate with your bomb defusal experts! (Unless you have a godlike memory and memorize the manual yourself.)
  • Informal Eulogy: The game has a tendency to become a vehicle for roleplaying scenarios when all seems lost or a failure at defusal ends up particularly egregious.
    Totalbiscuit: We have twenty seconds, we're gonna die. Everyone's gonna die. This bomb's in a school. The children... they didn't know.
    MattShea: We dead. We super dead. No, we're dead! We're dead! We exploded! Goddammit you're so late to the party; I'm DEAD! Stop talking to me!
    GenerikB: B-Dubs... it's your old buddy, Generik-B... I'm in Heaven now... there's no copyright strikes in Heaven...
    RubberRoss: R.I.P. Arin Robot
  • Jump Scare: The bomb exploding in your face is always very loud and sudden.
  • Just in Time: Often ends up this way, although the game doesn't artificially force it to happen.
  • Last Words: Players generally have a tendency to give up and bring every single trope under this category into play when they see that they don't have anywhere near enough time to complete remaining modules.
    Jacksepticeye: We're so dead. We don't have time. Tell my mom I love her! Two strikes! If I die, tell my brother not to touch my Playstation! GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD!
    SeaNanners: Chilled, just... I want you to listen to me here for a second. I am going to die. Now I need you to tell my family I love them very much, OK? I also need you to pretend to be me for the rest of your life.
    Inugami Korone: Oh. I'm die. Thank you forever.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Deliberately averted - an important part of the game is figuring out which details matter and not wasting time discussing the ones that don't. For example, for Complicated Wires, a red or blue wire striped with white is functionally the same as just red or blue (i.e. white only matters if the entire wire is white).
  • The Load: If there are multiple experts, anyone who misreads instructions or contradicts the others will end up making the team worse.
  • The Maze: One of the modules involves navigating one... only the defuser can't see the walls, and a strike is given each time a wall is hit.
  • Nerves of Steel: You'll need them. Being able to calmly relay and understand information verbally even as you watch the timer tick down is vital to success.
  • Now You Tell Me:
    • While the bomb manual is mostly written fairly, it constantly mentions crucial information regarding a certain instruction AFTER the instruction (paraphrased: Push "Next" to continue to next step. Do not press "Next" until the correct button is pressed.). This is certain to trip people up if the experts try to read directly from text and the operator does what it says in order.
    • This happens the other way around: sometimes the expert may give instructions to the best of their knowledge but the bomb defuser fails because they neglected to mention a small detail that's actually relevant.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Some of the harder bombs instantly explode if you mess up, no strikes allowed.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Taken to an extreme. Said 'red' when you meant 'blue'? It won't end well. It also doesn't help that the modules are designed specifically to invoke this. For example the "Who's on First" module requires describing buttons with labels like "Your", "UR", "You Are" and "You're". Better be really careful what you say. The Memory module can also result in this unless you're damned clear about whether you're talking about the fourth button or the one with the number "4", especially in languages where the distinction isn't as clear.
  • Press X to Die: Sometimes the Needy Vent Module will ask if you want to vent gas to prevent the bomb from exploding, and you're supposed to say Yes. However, sometimes it will instead ask if you want to Detonate the bomb. If you say Yes, that's exactly what happens.
  • Procedural Generation: The bombs are generated completely randomly. Prelease builds of the game also randomized the manual but remained static for the final release.
  • Puzzle Game: The game is one big one, with a twist that the defuser needs to describe the puzzle to the experts, who have to then solve it and relay the solution back to the defuser. And it must all be done under a strict timer and using only verbal communication.
  • Race Against the Clock: You need to be faster than the timer on the bomb, and the clock speeds up if you make a mistake.
  • Red Herring:
    • The manual has appendices demonstrating what kind of labels or ports can appear on the bomb. This serves mostly no purpose other than distracting the experts as most of them have nothing to do with any of the modules. (Unless you're playing with modded modules; odds are they're very important.)
    • The manual contains a complete Morse code dictionary for that module, but the numbers will never come up and several letters won't either. This is mostly a distraction to experts not already fluent in Morse. (Again, there are some modded modules where all letters and numbers are important to know.)
    • The "Who's on First" part also has word lists that are longer than they need to be. E.g. the list for "left" has the same word as its second entry, making it impossible for the correct word to be any of the later ones. Again, this only obfuscates the solution if communication between the players is bad.
  • Rule of Three: Three mistakes on a bomb and it's lights out.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Averted. The big red button that says detonate? You have to press it to disarm the bomb.
    • Played straight with the Needy Vent Gas module - it can ask you if you want to detonate the bomb. Pressing 'yes' causes the bomb to explode.
  • Shout-Out: The Needy Vent module is basically one giant shout out to The Simpsons (specifically, the episode "King-Size Homer"). Even the quip about the module in the Bomb Manual gets in on it:
    This job could probably be performed by a simple drinking bird pressing the same key over and over again.
  • Significant Anagram: The modded modules Anagrams and Insanagrams both require the players to decrypt an anagram.
  • Smash to Black: Whenever the bomb explodes, over the sound of an explosion.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: The modded module Piano Keys, although there are way more that are related to music. If you didn't figure it out, you need to play the right song on the module to solve it.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: The music accelerates and gets more dramatic when the timer gets closer and closer to detonation.
  • Violation of Common Sense: See that "DETONATE" button? You're gonna have to press it at some point to defuse the bomb, though you need to press it correctly.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The bomb defusal expert is literally this in real life if you are playing the PC version over Skype or similar VOIP program.
  • Who's on First?: Invoked with the appropriately named "Who's On First" module. Two columns of three buttons each, with a word printed on each of them. A screen on the module displays a word that you have to relate to a button, then cross-reference the word with the manual to find the first button you need to press. The twist is that every word is either a homophone of another word, or something that can be used to confirm, deny or show confusion.
    • Exaggerated with the unofficial Crazy Talk mod, with such entries as "blank", "literally blank", "the word blank", "nothing", "there's nothing", "no, literally nothing", "no comma literally nothing", "the word nothing", and "the phrase the word nothing".
      • Crazy Talk goes a step beyond that with the phrase "november oscar space, lima indigo tango echo romeo alpha lima lima yankee space, november oscar tango hotel indigo november golf", which is the Military Alphabet version of "no literally nothing". Meaning you can't even spell the phrase and be sure you're clear.
  • Wire Dilemma: Three modules: Simple Wires, Complicated Wires, and Wire Sequence are this. You must cut the right wire(s) on them, or you get a strike. Complicated Wires in particular involves multiple colors and styles of wire to the point where the manual page for it can be an Oh, Crap! moment all its own.
  • You Didn't Ask: There's going to be a lot of this going on, since even minor details on the modules or bomb (the color of the button, the number of batteries, what order the wires are in) often change up the entire solution. Best thing to do? Focus on one module at a time and describe it fully.note  However, don't be so verbose that you waste time.


Video Example(s):


"Japanese English Please!"

Pikamee and Tomoshika attempt to disarm a bomb. Hilarity ensues.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / LanguageBarrier

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