Death Squared is a game that has peaked my interest for a little while now. I am a big fan of the puzzle genre, and what I had seen from this game, it had everything that it needed to be my kind of game. What I did not expect is to love it as much as I did.
Like most puzzle games, the premise is simple, complete the level by getting all of the cubes onto their matching coloured circles. To do so will require skill, patience and team work, even when playing on your own. In the single player campaign you control two cubes, each tied to a thumb stick. Complete with a witty story, involving a technician testing an AI program, the player will be moving the cubes around the level, avoiding obstacles and being co-operative… with themselves. Stay with me, I am not crazy, let me explain. In single player, you need to move both cubes co-cooperatively if you have any hope of succeeding. Some levels take a great deal of thinking and strategy with yourself. For example, what do you need to do with one cube to allow the other to get to their destination? It is very easy to make the wrong move with the wrong cube, effectively signing your death warrant. In many ways, you are your own worst enemy. That and the vast amount of traps and deadly objects.
The local co-op side of the game takes everything I have said but increases it to four cubes. Either four players can participate or two players can control two cubes each. While the single player is incredibly fun, there is something special about playing this game with other people. Maybe that argument could be made about all co-op games, but this feel different. Trying to communicate with your friends and solve a puzzle can be very heated but entertaining. Especially when it is so fun to push your friend of the edge of the level. Naturally the co-op levels are different to the single player ones, and the game does a really good job making sure every level requires communication and team work. Each level had me and my companions stopping in our tracks to have a ‘team talk’ to figure out what we should do next. It especially becomes interesting when one player has to literally carry the other. Death Squared may make you reconsider which friends you can trust. Or maybe I just have bad friends. Either way, Death Squared certainly puts you in some great situations.
There are many enjoyable puzzle mechanics to be found in Death Squared. Of course there is the usual spikes to avoid and objects to move and use for protection. However there are some interesting ideas to be found here. One player making a move can be deadly to the other thanks to the laser system. At its heart, death squared really is a game about team work. Sometimes a player needs to act as the blocker to allow others to pass safely. I won’t ruin all of the mechanics here, but part of the fun is experimenting to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Plus I wouldn’t want to give away any of the solutions.
Death Squared features some standard features for a puzzle game. There is a timer to make sure you know exactly how slow you are at solving puzzles, complete with a one word summary of your cubes performance. The game also keeps a global death count as a reminder of your failures. Hidden away are some nice added extras, such as the ability to add decals to the cubes. You can also perform little dances to celebrate a well-earned victory over the level. The game itself is sleek and clean, with the vibrant colours of the cubes acting as a nice contrast to the grey colours of the testing facility. The game runs smoothly with small loading times.
We see a great deal of indie puzzle games flooding the digital market. Sometimes it can be a risk trying one out. Thankfully Death Squared is an intelligent and enjoyable a game, full of life and content. Even if you have no plans to play it co-operative, but you really should, the solo campaign has plenty to offer and will keep you entertained for hours. Death Squared is easily one of the most fun experiences I have had this year. I look forward to what the studio has to offer next.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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