The Ergohacks Verdict

Puzzle games are always fun and since the original Portal I’ve held a soft spot for puzzle platformers so when I heard about Death Squared I was immediately interested. The premise of the game is simple enough – move box robots around an obstacle course, puzzling out where to go and avoiding traps. Add cute voice overs, a general sci-fi theme and you’ve got an interesting and playable Indie game.

The twist comes in the number of robots – two or four and multiplayer. Move your robot and it affects other parts of the course. Spikes might appear in the floor, translucent walls that only let specific colors through move around, lifts go up and down and of course lasers. We quickly discovered that the key isn’t quick reflexes (although that helps in places) but decent coordination and getting everyone working the same way. After quickly deciding that the top of the TV was up, and the bottom was down and that each grid point was a cell we quickly devolved into a loud session of yelling at each other and the screen.

If you’re on your own you’re not out of luck either. The two player mode can also be played by one person with each stick controlling one robot. It’s a bit fiddly but the disadvantage of having coordinate two thumbs is outweighed by the advantage of not having to coordinate with another person.

The game splits down into Story – one or two player and 80 levels, Party – 2, 3 or 4 players and 40 levels and Vault. Vault are extra two and four player levels that try different mechanisms and it only becomes available when you finish the main storyline. Death Squared came out in March on the PS4, PC and Xbox One to generally positive reviews and apart from the ability to go mobile the Switch version adds some extra content. There are currently seven of the new exclusive levels and SMG promises more at some point.

Death Squared is exactly what it promises to be. A decent puzzle game with a light and humorous storyline that is fun to play singly but is better with a group. The Switch version adds a few new levels, an ability to play on the go and the joycon’s make a surprisingly decent control system. If you’re a puzzler fan you’ll spend a happy few hours on the storyline levels and the Party mode is a decent party diversion. As with many puzzle games there isn’t a huge amount of replayability on the single player – when you figure out how to do something repeating it is just an exercise in memory and fingerwork but the multiplayer is replayable in the right situations and knowing the answer doesn’t defeat the fun.

In short if you’re a Switch owner looking for a decent multiplayer puzzler it’s a good choice.

Ergohacks Essential

Buy it from Nintendo 

 About SMG Studio

SMG is an Australian indie studio set up in 2013. They’re a part of ‘Soap Creative’ – a digital agency. They’ve made several well reviewed platformer and tower defense games and Death Squared has been quite successful on its other platforms.

Design

The game is entirely controlled via the joycons and the touch screen isn’t made use of at all. As a multiplayer game that’s designed to have lots of people watching it that makes sense but would have been nice to get all of the menu systems touch compatible. Every Switch owner has two controllers for two player mode but don’t forget that if you want to play three or four player mode you’ll need a second set of joycons.  Death Squared runs on TV or on the Switch screen and switches seamlessly but I did find it more playable on the larger screen as it gave a better view of what was going on that I found helpful.

Death Squared is well within the Switch’s capacity from a graphical point of view and I had no issues at any point with crashes, bugs or any unexpected problems.

Specification

Release date: 14 July 2017
Platforms: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam/PC
Rating: E – some mild references to alcohol.
Genre: Puzzles, Multiplayer
Length of game: 80 1-2 person levels, 40 4 player
Number of players: 1-2 or 4
Difficulty settings:one setting

 We based our Ergohacks Verdict on two weeks of tinkering, testing and playing Death Squared. Switch version provided by  SMG. This article was first published on 12 July 2017.