Where would gaming be without Discord? Sure, consoles provide party chat to allow for groups of friends to communicate while playing together, and most, if not all multiplayer modes allow for team chat in some capacity. But Discord is a universal method for people to use voice chat in a more accessible way, whether individual chatters are using a PC, mobile device, or the Xbox One integration. It is also the primary way to play (and succeed) in the bomb-defusing game, Them Bombs, from developer Yellow Dot. Them Bombs uses Discord to put players into high-stress situations that, although repetitive, allow for fast-paced, chaotic times.
Disarm Dr. TiNT’s Bombs Before It’s Too Late
Them Bombs - originally released for the Nintendo Switch, as well as iOS and Android devices - arrives on PC in the same vein as Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. One player must defuse a bomb - placed by the evil Dr. TiNT - based on the quality (or lack thereof) of verbal directions from another player. Each bomb contains a handful of different modules that need to be disabled in specific ways based on each bomb’s configuration. Of course, bomb-defusing players have no insight into how to properly disarm each module, which is where the other player comes in.
The non-defusing player is unable to see the bomb, but they do have an instruction booklet that describes the logic behind each module build. Based on the description of the bomb’s module from the Unlikely Hero - button colors, wire counts, symbols and numbers shown, battery descriptions, just to name a few - it’s the other person’s job to scan through the document as fast as possible and relay the information necessary for the Unlikely Hero to perform as quickly as they can.
Therein lies the pandemonium. The Unlikely Hero is without a second to waste, as they only have so many minutes to defuse the bomb before it explodes. If the person describing the bomb-defusing process takes too long or jumbles their words, the Unlikely Hero loses precious time, almost ensuring a failed defusal. On the flipside, if the Hero fails to follow directions (or properly follows incorrect given directions), the module will punish them by speeding up the clock. These missteps create frustrated players on both sides of the bomb, which only adds to the drama (and hilarity).
A Great Party Game
The nice thing about Them Bombs is that it can be played either online or in person with 2-4 people who make up the Expert Team. Offline play requires players to download the PDF version of the bomb manual on their phone or tablet (Them Bombs’ in-game interface makes it easy for one player to secure and send the document to multiple people), which can then be used to walk the Unlikely Hero through the defusal process.
However, with Them Bombs being added to Steam, Discord is one of the main draws to play the game with others in an online voice-chat format, with the game’s official Discord server being the place to be to play with other bomb-defusing fanatics.
In short, the puzzles in Them Bombs are phenomenal. The whimsically colorful appearances with buttons and knobs (that you can’t help but want to push) are just there to distract you from the task at hand. If the Unlikely Hero preemptively changes any of the settings before describing them to the manual reader, they just might be digging their own grave.
Honestly, being the person describing the defusal process is the trickier role, as they are required to ask the right questions in the right way, all while thumbing through the bomb defusal manual to make connections with the description of the bomb’s features. Unfortunately, once you get a feel for what you’re doing, that’s pretty much it.
I’ve Been Here Before A Few Times
There are few faults with Them Bombs. However, one of its main issues lies in the fact that once you’ve played the game a few times, you’ll know what’s expected of each module, which ultimately makes the entire experience less intense and fun. This is especially true when playing with the same person over and over again. Bomb defusers will know the best way to describe the bomb’s features, and manual readers will have a pretty good idea as to how the process needs to be explained.
The PC version of Them Bombs combats this through the use of Discord, which creates the need to adjust your go-to verbal descriptions to ensure the stranger on the other side of the voice chat understands. After all, some of us are able to follow verbal directions better than those who are able to perform better using visual cues. Again though, when playing with someone who knows the game as well as you do, it makes it a little less frantic since both players understand the basics of each module.
There are also two in-game occurrences that happen to the Unlikely Hero. The first incident involves their flashlight running out of batteries, requiring them to shift their focus from defusing the bomb to change the flashlight’s batteries. The second comes in the form of blacking out from the weight of the pressure. Although both incidents are fun, neither is super impactful once you know that they’re coming. It would be nice if more incidents occurred and were more random with varying degrees of severity to keep veteran players on their toes.
More Content Could Go A Long Way
Ultimately, Them Bombs knows what it’s trying to do and does it well. A reasonable price of $11 USD makes the redundancy and lack of surprise acceptable, as long as you’re willing to play with new groups of players. Once the game finally makes its way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, hopefully, the Yellow Dot team will come out with DLC in the form of new puzzles and timely, or rather untimely incidents. Until then, just keep putting an end to Dr. TiNT’s dastardly deeds.
3.5 Out Of 5 Stars
A review copy of Them Bombs was provided by TheGamer for this review. Them Bombs is available now for PC and Mac, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.