From SMG Studios comes Death Squared, an environmental puzzle game about cooperation, communication, and robot explosions that was originally released on the Nintendo Switch this past July. Death Squared provides an insane amount of content for both solo players and cooperative teams; clean, transferable visuals that make the game enjoyable in every Switch play style; and a quirky, humorous story that creates a welcoming (albeit incredibly challenging) puzzle game.
The goal of Death Squared is simple; as a player, you take control of blocky robots and attempt to guide them to their color-coordinated destinations. There aren’t any other control options here other than moving the blocks. You can make the robots dance, which elicits a funny response from the operators in game, but that’s really it! The gameplay in Death Squared gets somewhat tricky when you incorporate up to four players each controlling an individual robot, deadly traps, environmental hazards, and many other puzzle elements that need to be solved in order for your robot to reach the goal.
As I was playing through this game, I found the most important skill to be my own patience. I died a lot playing this game, but death seemed to be essential to the discovery of how each level operated. You never truly discovered how the environment reacted to your movements without trying it out first, which resulted in many (I really mean many…) deaths. This is never really a problem though because the game doesn’t punish you for dying, it simply starts the level over and you try the puzzle again.
When playing solo, you take control of two robots with each joystick and as you move these two robots there are many different traps or hazards that move with the robots you control. This creates a very delicate balance between you the player, the robots you control, and the hazards that could destroy your robots and make you start over. This balance is only tightened when attempting to play with multiple people in 4-player party mode. In that mode each of the four players can move in a way that can make or break your success. This emphasis on communication and teamwork is both frustrating and insanely fun when you work it out with your teammates.
The game offers a good amount of content by including eighty different levels as a solo or 2-player campaign, forty levels in the 4-player party mode, and an additional thirty levels in the vault. I started to play some of the vault levels, and I realized very quickly why they separated those outside of the main campaign mode, as they took quite a bit of time and energy to complete! I found that I had the most fun in the full out party mode, where three of my friends and I tried to shout our way through figuring out these puzzles, all while dying multiple times only to try again, die some more, and finally figure out how to make the puzzle work.
All in all, Death Squared is truly an enjoyable puzzle solving experience made all the more worthwhile when partnering with up to three of your friends or family members to attempt to solve some truly tricky puzzles. The clean visuals only enhance the gameplay experience by providing an easy opportunity to take this game anywhere you want to go. I would highly recommend this game to any Nintendo Switch owner who enjoys puzzle games that can be played with more than one person.