Sponsored By: Batman
Time Defused: 54 Minutes
Go read my review of Hardware Engineering, as this is basically the same game only not as hard and with loud noises.
De Wire Review
I’m an electrical engineer by trade, so you’d think I wouldn’t like this sort of game. Why would I want to come home after a busy day of pushing electrons and keeping up with the latest trends* only to fire up a game where I’m doing, essentially, the same thing? It would be like a shipping manager coming home and playing LoGIstIcAl (Yes, I’m sure I got the camel case wrong on that. No, I don’t care.) You don’t relax by doing more work. Everybody knows that.
Everybody who has a job they don’t like, anyway. As I’ve said before on the topic of STEM, they’re miserable jobs if you’re only in it for the money. I got into electrical engineering because I wanted to, not because some guidance counselor told me about high salaries and job placement rates.
Bomb Squad Academy has the same goal of electronics education as Hardware Engineer does, but approaches it from the other end. Instead of putting you in the role of the design engineer, you’re playing the sustaining engineer. The difference being that a design engineer makes the problems and the sustaining engineer has to figure out how to fix them, usually under a deadline while someone from manufacturing is breathing down your neck and muttering not-quite-under-their-breath questions about the usefulness of engineers in general.
Why yes, I have done both sorts of work. Thanks for noticing!
So where Hardware Engineer gives you a requirements document and tells you to build it, Bomb Squad Academy hands you a finished product and asks you to debug it. And by “debug” I mean “fix it before it explodes.” Which, again, isn’t so very different from being a sustaining engineer, except the exploding is less metaphorical in Bomb Squad Academy, even though I'd rather face that than be on the receiving end of a production manager’s wrath.
Bomb Squad Academy walks you through the functions of some common electrical components and logic devices, and gives you some light puzzles to solve with them, eventually ramping up the complexity a bit before giving you your diploma. And therein lies the main problem with the game: It’s basically just a tutorial for what should have been a bigger game. Each chapter deals with a specific component and gets you used to its operation. But, while later chapters incorporate the components from previous ones, aside from one last bomb that could be called your final exam, there isn’t a lot of integration. I spent an hour doing every level, reviewing every component, and by the time I’m ready to go out there and solve some real puzzles, the game hands me a diploma, pats me on the head and asks me if I’d like to watch the credits.
That is a crying shame, because the puzzle design is excellent in Bomb Squad Academy. In fact, just about everything is excellent in Bomb Squad Academy. The visual design is no-nonsense and clean, but still appealing. The sound effects, what there are of them (and what there are usually involves loud bangs), are spare but well implemented. Even the writing is pithy and sharp. Bomb Squad Academy is a game with absolutely no fat on it. It’s just too bad there’s not a lot of meat either.
Will I Keep Playing?
Gosh, I want to. But there’s nothing left to do. Maybe I could try speed-running the puzzles, but since bomb-defusing games are essentially enforced speed runs anyway, there doesn’t seem to be much point.
Oh well, maybe there will be a sequel.
Is it the Dark Souls of games that teach you what a Flip Flop is?
I’m going to go with no on this one. The puzzles are the sort of clever that’s designed to make you think you’re clever, which means they’re straightforward and not actually all that hard if you pay attention and know what you’re looking at.
Then again, maybe I’m the wrong person to answer that question, since I’ve been doing the work for almost twenty years now. I already knew, for example, what an XOR gate did, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to solve a series of progressively more complicated puzzles that used them.
So I guess the question of whether this is the Dark Souls of its genre depends on whether you work as an electrical engineer or as the person who hires them.
*Because I have to stay current.