The Nintendo Switch has been been out for some five months now, but the lack of AAA, first and third party titles is still hanging over the console like a bad odour. Fortunately, Nintendo has released a slew of indie titles to accommodate for the aforementioned shortcomings. One of the latest indie games to hit the Nintendo Switch is Death Squared, a multiplayer puzzler that has already been out for some time on PS4, Xbox One and Steam.
Death Squared tasks players with completing an increasingly hard set of puzzles by controlling two separate robots. It can be played single-player, but the core focus of the game is all about playing cooperatively with friends. This is why it’s such a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch, a console that was designed with cooperative and competitive multiplayer in mind.
Before going on to discuss how the game plays cooperatively, it’s important to critique the game's single-player offering. Whilst not as inherently fun, playing on your own offers more of a dexterity challenge as you are required to move both blocks at the same time. Imagine 2013’s Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons control scheme implemented onto a much more minimalistic and futuristic setting.
Multiplayer is where Death Squared shines. Levels force two cooperating players to communicate as they attempt to solve puzzles. Traps and hazards scattered around each level force players to work in tandem, rather than one player taking the lead over another. It’s not always perfect, with frustration being a common theme during gameplay. There is also a party mode available for four players, with puzzles specifically designed around the number of players.
Visually, the game is pleasant enough, but the concept limits graphical creativity. The puzzle environments have been designed using simple colours and industrial aesthetics, a design choice that matches the overall theme, but it unfortunately leaves Death Squared visually unoriginal.
The puzzles throughout Death Squared are well designed, forcing players to think creatively in order to solve them. There is certainly an element of trial and error at play, and players will have to learn from their mistakes and deaths to progress through each level. It can be a little frustrating at times as I found it was a little too easy for the characters to fall off platforms, or get caught on pieces of the environment. It’s not a huge issue, but as a result death could sometimes feel cheap.
Death Squared relies heavily on comedy to add character to the narrative. The narrator, which the player controls, talks and banters with the AI robot controlling the system. Most of the comedy consists of throwaway one-liners and jokes that start to grate several hours into the game. It lacks the depth and creativity of Portal 2’s relationship between human and AI, instead opting for much simpler watered down version.
One of Death Squared’s biggest strengths is just how well it ports to the Nintendo Switch. The game’s versatility in terms of multiplayer works wonders for the newest Nintendo console and highlights its biggest strength - convenient and fun multiplayer gaming.
Death Squared is an intelligent puzzler that challenges single and multiplayer gamers alike. Its cheesy comedy feels a bit cheap at times, but the core concept more than negates the weak writing. Given that the Switch’s library of available titles is somewhat thin - unless you love Neo-Geo ports - Death Squared is definitely worth picking up. It's a solid single-player title that gives you the chance to experience genuinely fun multiplayer puzzle solving.
Death Squared (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Death Squared is an intelligent puzzler that challenges single and multiplayer gamers alike.