By Sean Booker
July 19, 2017 - 15:53
For a fiendishly tricky puzzle game with a whimsical nature, Death Squared is a great time. The game is played with one to four players as you control two to four robots navigating a deadly obstacle course. The puzzles get incredibly difficult while the fun narrators gasp and awe. Despite a few minor interface and physics annoyances, this is a great game to play with some friends.
The story mode has you (or two of you) controlling two robots as they try and reach their respective color endpoints. All the while, David, a human office employee, is watching this while discussing it with his AI companion. He works for a quality control department to make sure the company’s systems are running correctly. As you progress through the stages, David will get more and more surprised. At times he will laugh when you die or yell at you when you are standing still for too long. Unfortunately it doesn’t go beyond that. This “story” mode doesn’t have much of a narrative at all. The two chatting characters don’t progress in their relationship despite everything lining up like they should. David and his AI coworker banter at most while telling middling jokes. It comes off as a watered down version of Portal. This dialogue does help add some personality to the game but it is a shame that it stops so short.
One lacking aspect is no subtitles. The game puts a lot of emphasis on the dialogue in each stage (and between them) yet there is no option for these. This makes the Switch’s handheld option much more limited since you will miss out without any audio playing. This was an unfortunate misstep.
Despite no real narrative drive, the game still has engaging puzzles. Each joycon controls one of the two robots as you move them around a grid of obstacles. Different colored buttons, lasers, walls, etc. will gate your progression as you work out the solution. Obviously this can be played in multiplayer or with one person controlling the two. When playing the four robot levels you can either use separate controllers or hold down each joycons’ trigger buttons in order to select a different character. For example, the red joycon will move the red robot but if the L trigger is being held it will control the green robot. This allows even a single player to enjoy any of the modes. The puzzles get incredibly tricky and it can be a real fun or frustrating time to have with your friends.
The physics nature to the puzzles tend to feel a bit unrefined. Several times I would complete an object in ways that felt unorthodox. By muscling my way through some of the physics obstacles I would encounter a solution that definitely seemed incorrect. At the same time, there were deaths I had that were the result of an odd collision or what have you. All this together left me with a desire that the puzzles be tightened up.
Death Squared is an enjoyable puzzle game that can make or break friendships. Being able to play every mode solo is a great plus while being able to work with up to three friends is a great time. The narrative is enjoyable but definitely leaves something to be had. The physics in the game had a similar feeling. The game feels like it needed a little more love in order to be great
Rating: 6 /10