VG Tribune

Review: Death Squared (Nintendo Switch)

July 19, 2017 / 10:21 AM

By: Marty Estes

What does A.I. do all day? Why was it created? What is its purpose? While you won’t find the answers by playing Death Squared, you will find a roaringly good time for 1-4 players. If you like puzzle games, dark humor, or lots of screaming at your partners, then this is a perfect game for you. Let’s take a deep dive into Death Squared and see what makes it stand out from the crowd.

Portal, Meet Snipperclips

As soon as you start Death Squared in Story Mode, you’re introduced to IRIS, a computer, and David, an employee of OmniTech who is supervising A.I. simulations on various cube shaped robots. Players take control of the robots, one for each Joycon, or one for each thumbstick, if you’re playing single player, and guide them to rest over panels in the floor that are the same color as the robot. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Stages quickly ramp up in difficulty with spikes popping out at inopportune times, a robot’s movement causing boxes to push the other robot off the stage, and lasers, among other things. Story mode consists of 80 stages of hazards and puzzles that can be quite ingenious in some places, yet hair-pullingly frustrating in others. Make the slightest move without your partner’s attention or consent and BOOM, they’re flying off the screen or exploding into a million bits. But, that’s half the fun of Death Squared. Death is a constant friend, surprising you when you least expect it, conditioning you for the next trial, causing your brain to bend a little more than it normally does in order to figure out the secret of each stage. It also requires constant communication, much like Nintendo Switch launch hit Snipperclips, although here you are only using the stick and nothing else. No buttons are necessary to play Death Squared.

Game of Death

So, let’s talk about the good. Death Squared controls smoothly, which means that deaths are pretty much your fault. The movement of the cube bots does take a little getting used to, but I’ll address that later. Witty banter between IRIS and David pops up during each test and in between levels, fleshing out the characters a bit. The robots are bright and stand in great contrast to the rather drab grey toned backgrounds, though they do harken back to Portal and Portal 2. ¬†Thus far, at 20 levels into the Story Mode, I have yet to see another background, and a quick search on the internet showed me that I wouldn’t really ever seen anything other than shades of gray. But, that’s ok. The background isn’t the star here, the robots are. Menus are easy to navigate and the game autosaves after each trial so if you get frustrated easily it’s fine to put it down and move on. So far, despite the frustration, each stage has been fun and some have even brought smiles of delight and peels of laughter once my wife and I figured them out together.

Square Dance

However, there are some negatives. Sometimes, you’ll find your robot just flying off the edge into the abyss, simply because you were moving forward. The edges of each stage are really sensitive, and this can really hurt you if you’re on a narrow pathway to the next switch or obstacle. Also, there’s not really a tutorial or anything other than the first couple of stages, but I’m not exactly sure this game would’ve benefitted from one. It very well could have, just to get the concepts of hidden hazards down and things of that nature. Lastly, this is clearly a party puzzle game, meant to be played with friends. While that is a very good thing, indeed, what if you don’t want to play with friends? Or what if you have friends who WON’T play? Controlling the two robots in single player mode is often an exercise in frustration, with my brain getting confused about which stick controls which robot, as there is no marker or indicator over them to differentiate. Even adding a display name or number over them would alleviate some of the issue.

Final Word

Despite these small negatives, this isn’t enough for me not to recommend this game to you. If you caught the party puzzle bug with Snipperclips, this is a great title to pick up and continue having fun with. If you simply like the theme of robots, explosions, and sassy, sarcastic computers and scientists, then this is for you. If you have friends over frequently for party games, I also see this being a winner there as well. Overall, Death Squared is a fun game that any puzzle, or party fanatic needs to have in their library.

Score – 8/10

Death Squared was reviewed from a Nintendo Switch review copy provided to Nintendo Dads from SMG Studio.

 

 

Death Squared

8

Final Thoughts

8.0/10

Pros

  • Great party game for 2-4 players
  • Puzzles are tough but fair

Cons

  • Steep motor skills curve for 1 player
  • Edge detection for platforms seems a bit off

About the author /


Marty Estes is a lifelong Nintendo fan and gamer who has lived through eight console generations and lived to tell the tale. When he's not playing games, he's a full time youth minister, husband, daddy, and friend.

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