By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on July 12, 2017
It's time to Switch things up a bit! I'm sorry for that terrible joke ladies and gentlemen, but it is truly time to play a game on the Nintendo switch! The game in question has already been released on Steam, Playstation 4 and Xbox One in March of this year, and is now finally available on Nintendo's latest console. So which game might that be, I hear you ask? Well, let's just say that it is a game that gives new meaning to "It's hip to be square". Yes, it is time to gather your friends, hang around on the couch together and play a game by Australian indie developer SMG Studio: Death Squared!
It's just another day at the Omnicorp testing facility in the year 2066. David Volenzuela sits down behind his workstation and starts a series of experiments, aided by the company's AI called I.R.I.S. Today's testing schedule is designed to separate the real cubes from the cuboids and test wether the new line of robots are up to standards. Now, contrary to what you might suspect, you're not going to be playing as Davis, or even as I.R.I.S., so where does that leave you? What are you?!
You are a robot, shaped like a cube... What? Yes you are... trust me on this one! Okay, okay, let me rephrase that! In Death Squared, you play as one of up till four cube-looking robots. Better?... good, moving along! Your job, as one of these robots, is to reach the goal that matches your own color without getting crushed, shot, spiked, zapped or even dropped into a bottomless pit. Now, this in itself might not sound terribly complicated. Challenging? Sure, but not overly complicated. Now, imagine that you're not playing this game alone, but with two people and everything the other person does, influences the level in some way. That already sound a bit more difficult, right? Well, now imagine the same, but not with two, but with four people simultaneously trying to get to their respective goal... and the chaos that ensues!
Luckily, Death Squared is not a competitive multiplayer game in which you have to eliminate every other robot in order to win. No sir, the entire game revolves around communication and teamwork. Only if you and your friends manage to work together, will you reach the end of the level. The game can be played with either one, two or four players and the more players, the more mayhem! If one of the robots dies, be it his/her or someone else fault, you all have to restart the level. So if you don't want to be the laughing stock of your friends, I suggest you pay attention to what you're doing, as well as listen to what others are saying which, I know, can be a very hard thing to do, especially if you're of the male persuasion, like me...
So, how do you play Death Squared? Well, that's quite simple actually; you each take control of a colored robot and steer them around the levels. Obstacles you might encounter are color-coded to match each robot so, for instance, blue laser beams will not harm the blue robot but will blast every other robot to tiny smithereens. The same goes for semi transparent colored cubes called holo-cubes. If you're playing as the red robot, you can pass through red holo-cubes, blue through blue and so on. While this may come in handy at times, it can also obstruct your path. Let's take our red robot as an example; because he can pass through red holo-cubes, he cannot pass over them, because he would fall right through. So another robot will have to make its way across and figure out a way to get the red robot to where it needs to go.
This can be done by passing over colored switches that activate certain elements of the level. This may be a block that serves as an elevator, but it could just as well mean that spikes shoot up from the ground and impale any poor robot that gets caught on them, so beware what you do and when you do it. Just like the holo-cubes and lasers, only the robot with the corresponding color can pass through these spikes unharmed. Every obstacle, switch and goal in the levels is color-coded this way, making things a bit more clear. This doesn't mean however, that Death Squared is a simple game. Sure, you might breeze through the first few levels, but as you progress through the campaign, things will get increasingly more difficult!
Visually, Death Squared look really cool! The robots, although simple in nature look tough and adorable at the same time, kinda like that one robot from the board game Robo Rally. The chatter in between levels between David and I.R.I.S. makes it even more fun. If you stop moving for a while, David will also comment on that, making the game feel like some kind of actual test program. The puzzles are challenging but never impossible; a very good quality in any puzzle game, as far as I'm concerned. All in all, Death Squared is nothing less than a very good game that can be enjoyed alone or with friends. And it's this local co-op that makes the game even more fun. Who hasn't ridiculed one of his friends if they manage to do something really stupid? Well, when playing Death Squared, you will get enough opportunities to do so... or have it being done to you!
Death Squared's campaign contains 80 levels, filled with various puzzles for you and your friends to solve. If that isn't enough of a challenge for you, you can always try to play the entire campaign solo. Keep in mind, though, that you will have to control two robots at once which, as the developers put it: "is like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time". If that is still not enough for you, you can head over to the Vault. Here you will find a collection of 30 puzzles that were deemed too difficult for the main game and had to be separated from the rest. Or you could also try out the 40 party/family levels for more exploding robotic fun!
I must leave you now, dear readers, but believe me when I say that, whichever way you look at it, Death squared is a game that can be thoroughly enjoyed for hours on end! It's damn near perfect puzzle fun... with added explosions. So the only thing left for me to do at this point is to repeat myself and say, once again, that there is no doubt in my mind that it's truly hip (and awesome!) to be square!
March 14, 2017 (PC / OS X / PS4 / XBox One)
July 13, 2017 (Switch)