Death Squared (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Ofisil 12.07.2017 1

Review for Death Squared on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo, for all its wrong decisions throughout its long history, has always excelled in a variety of things, including this wondrous realm of co-op titles called couch games… which, in the case of the Switch, could also be called bed games, back-of-the-car games, or even that-dark-corner-of-the-park games - and no, this article isn't about sex. Anyway, couch video games aren't anything new, and yet, how many cooperative puzzle ones are out there? SMG Studio wished to fill that kind of big gap, and thus created Death Squared - the puzzler whose tagline could very well be "You will die… both of you!"

There is a story here. Something about a programmer (or something), who, with the help of an AI (or something), must test a certain security system… or something. It's easy to forget the existence of the "plot," as it has been placed waaaaaay into the background. The conversations between the human character and his robotic buddy will provide a few chuckles for those who will actually pay attention, but this isn't what this is all about. By all means, Death Squared is a pure dexterity-based puzzler, and nothing more than that. Well, actually, it's more than that… It's a puzzler meant to be played along with a friend.

Screenshot for Death Squared on Nintendo Switch

It's a weird idea, yet it has been crafted pretty well. Yes, it's possible to play this solo, but it just isn't that entertaining. After all, this is meant to be played with others… although this concept does raise some issues, which will be addressed later on. The basic idea is pretty simple: just guide two cube-shaped coloured robots towards their goal; blue for the blue robot, red for the red one. These mechanical heroes can't jump or do anything "special," therefore, the only thing that's left for them to do is to just move around the place.

Of course, levels get progressively harder, with added obstacles thrown into the mix; obstacles that require helping each other to overcome them, like lasers beams that only one robot can block, or tiles that only one robot can walk on top of. It's all pretty simple, but the level design will surely test your mettle. Oh, yeah. In case you weren't aware of it, Death Squared is not a let's-have-some-silly-fun couch game. Instead, a very good comparison could actually be: The Lost Vikings (remember that?) meets Dark Souls… although it's far less lethal than the latter.

Screenshot for Death Squared on Nintendo Switch

It's not that the puzzles themselves are that hard, though - which brings us to the main flaw at hand. This is a title that's torn between a solo and a co-op puzzle experience. When playing alone you are in full control of the situation, and can thus work a solution much more smoothly… but it will all start to feel very lonely too soon, boring you to death in the process (no pun intended). On the other hand, sacrificing 50% of the control means that, in a team of two people, either somebody has to wait while the other one tests the water, or one player will control all the action by orally annoying the other one (sorry, wife!).

Screenshot for Death Squared on Nintendo Switch

This is greatly emphasized in Party, which is the Story mode minus the narrative, but with two additional players thrown into the fray. The outcome is, as expected, twice as chaotic, and, unfortunately, twice as irritating, since it was already challenging to coordinate a team of just two robots - although, to be honest, the levels in Party tend to be a bit easier in design, maybe to balance things out a bit.

For all the flaws mentioned, Death Squared is a pretty fun puzzler - as long as you can find the right kind of gamers to enjoy it with, that is. Furthermore, while it's also available on the PS4 and the PC, the Nintendo Switch feels like its natural home, not only because it's portable, but also due to the fact that it's much more comfortable to play it with the tiny Joy-Con controllers.

Screenshot for Death Squared on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Death Squared is a cocktail of two things that, theoretically, could never become a successful mix. Having said that, and although combining couch gaming and puzzles is a concept that doesn't work as well as intended, SMG Studio handles its unique idea quite alright. As a result, those who'll look past its few flaws will surely have a blast here.

Developer

SMG Studio

Publisher

SMG Studio

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I played this back at RTX on the XboxOne. It demoed pretty well, my only gripe is that it's on the pricey side. I'll probably pick it up once it goes on a 40% sale or something.

 

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