Death Squared Review
Release Date: March 13, 2017 (PC, Xbox One, PS4), July 13, 2017 (Switch)
Developer: SMG Studio
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch (Reviewed)
Death Squared has a pretty straight-forward concept. You control between two and four colored cubes and have to guide each of them to their goal marker without letting any of them die. Cubes can trigger buttons that match their color, which can open paths and make changes to the level layout, and/or trigger additional hazards that may affect the path of to the other cube’s goals.
There is no real story to Death Squared, only some minor dialogue between levels. Speaking of the levels, they start out fairly easy and basic. Some of the later levels can be very, very difficult. While there is no real story to the game, there is a lab technician that provides some random dialogue as you play. Not only does he speak, he also gets more and more frustrated with you the more you die. Every now and then he will even do something to amuse himself, such as reversing your controls or spawning dozens of cubes, just to keep you on your toes. The game also keeps a running tally of how many times you've failed, rubbing it in each time you die. It can get quite irritating, but it is fun nonetheless.
When it comes to controls, you can play the game by yourself by controlling each cube by using one analogue stick for each cube. If you are playing with more than 2 cubes, you use the shoulder buttons to switch between cubes. I found it much more fun to give the second joycon to another player and work “cooperatively” to figure out the levels. The coop play in Death Squared reminded me a lot of Snipperclips. Both games require communication and patience, as well as plenty of yelling back and forth.
Every hazard is color coded, and cubes are immune to traps of their own color. For example, a red cube can block a red laser, allowing a blue cube to pass by. The levels can be thought out and played at your own pace, which is nice. You can move as slowly as you like to try and anticipate the hazards, as well as analyze and figure out a strategy to each level before you even make a move.
The graphics and design are very well done. Levels are crisp and easy to read. There are optional cosmetic decorations for every cube, and you can collect more patterns by finding them in secret areas throughout story mode.
There’s 80 two cube levels, 40 four cube levels and then you can also unlock the vault, which is a collection of super tough puzzles that show no mercy. The number of levels in Death Squared provide lots of replayability, especially when playing with a group of people. It can be fun to see what group, or team, can finish a level the quickest, as well as see what various types of strategies everyone comes up with. The Switch’s JoyCons make it even easier to pass the game around and have some fun. Speaking of JoyCons, the game runs equally as smooth in both docked and handheld modes. I noticed little to no difference between the two.
Death Squared can be fun by yourself, but it’s even better with some friends. Anyone that enjoyed multiplayer, cooperative puzzlers, such as Snipperclips, will enjoy Death Squared.
Great cooperative gameplay
Crisp, detailed level design
Lots of levels, providing lots of replayability
Can get too difficult for some
Thank you to SMG Studios for providing us with a review copy.