With the Nintendo Switch release, SMG Studio’s Death Squared is an extremely enjoyable pastime, especially with friends you enjoy to annoy (as long as you can still enjoy it).
What I Liked:
Gameplay is tricky and fun. Death Squared is a puzzle-based strategy game where you control 1-4 little robots and attempt to move them onto their designated platform. Several little robots because of the two modes of game play there are: two robots and four robots. With two robots, each Switch Joy-Con controls one, and with four robots, each Joy-Con controls two. However, no robot works individually. Traps, spikes and lasers can all be activated from the movement of another robot. If a single robot dies, the level is reset and the easily-climbing death counter goes up for your annoyance. The challenge of figuring out the exact order of movement for the robots comes with high difficulty (at times) comes with a high reward.
The “Co-op” is what makes the game. Each Joy-Con can control 1-2 robots, and each person can take a Joy-Con. I call it “Co-op” because the true joy I found in this game was not playing to complete each level but screwing over the other player non-stop. Each stage is designed completely different from the rest (and there are plenty of stages to play); it’s easy to discover what traps are set on each level, most of them triggers by movement of one robot to kill the other. Meaning, if you move first, the other robot tends to die instantaneously. It’s quite enjoyable.
What I Didn’t Like:
The game quickly becomes dull and repetitive. It happens to every game. Just some sooner than others. Death Squared is more of an experience rather than a long-term game, and that’s clear through its price, simple premise and gameplay. The attractiveness only comes from its co-op and puzzles. Some levels are actually pointless, requiring no thought and path to the goal is trap-free. Some levels turn that idea around and it looks innocent, but actually traps are in hiding waiting to trash your robot. This cycle becomes dry and predictable and while puzzles do become more complex as the game progresses, they don’t become more interesting.
For its price, Death Squared is only worth picking up to play with friends if you don’t want to get Mario Kart (for some reason) or you’re tired of Mario Kart (for some reason).
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch; Also Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Steam; Developer: SMG Studio; Players: Singleplayer, Multiplayer; Released: July 13, 2017; ESRB: E; MSRP: $14.99, Official site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher