Death Squared Review: Quality Insurance
Kalvin Martinez / Aug 15th, 2017 No Comments
In co-op games, it often feels like any additional players are just extra gunmen hired to manage inflated odds and amped up AI. Co-op games miss the point of needing to feel part of a team working toward a grand goal. Death Squared does not at all fall victim to this trend. There is a lot of fun to be had in both single-player and co-op gameplay. It is another Switch game that highlights the unique tabletop and on-the-go features of the system.
The daily grind is tough, especially when your job is largely watching cubes bumble around trying to solve simple puzzles. What quality of life do you have when every day is the same as the last one, and your only companion when you watch AI try to figure it out is another AI?
How do you find enjoyment and fulfillment in your job when those AI cubes never make it higher than the 24th test? When do you get to be alive when the most exciting thing in your work week is an email from corporate trying to suss out a lunch thief?
Death Squared’s single-player offers a fun story about a QA tester for AI cubes, which is often funny and regularly charming. As you progress deeper into the story, you learn more about the company he works for, his bizarre friendship with an operating AI, and that cubes often don’t make it too far into the tests.
The best thing about the single-player mode is that it is a quick crash course into the different elements of the game. It makes for great practice before digging into the real meat of the game: multiplayer. If you think some of the puzzles are tough with only two cubes, wait until you try to coordinate three other people and four cubes in similar situations.
Death Squared never forgets that co-op is about cooperation and communication. As you control the four different colored boxes to solve puzzles, it becomes obvious that communicating through complex solutions is not as easy as it seems. This is where the fun comes in.
The puzzles in Death Squared start off simple, giving players a chance to figure out the controls. Learning the movement is essential; if you’re not careful, you’ll fall off the edge or bump another box at an inopportune moment. The key to any puzzle is to guide the four colored boxes to their corresponding colored discs. Doing so activates their lights and sends them off to the next test.
Each puzzle builds off the next, slowly layering on elements to acclimate both you and your partners into what become wildly complex and deadly puzzles. At a certain point, progress is slow and you never know how one action one color takes will affect the rest of the level.
Sometimes activating a completion disc will cause spikes to jut out of the floor, killing another box in the process. Moving forward can cause spikes to spring gently or quickly out of the ceiling to decimate a cohort. Carefully experimenting and examining each element of a level will help you succeed. Or your party can do whatever they want and let chaos reign. The choice is dependent on how well you communicate and reset.
One of the most frustrating but quintessential moments in my experience playing the game came in a puzzle where a friend and I tried to move four boxes to their pads while lasers followed the boxes around. Figuring out the solution wasn’t easy, but was doable thanks to the blocking box placed in the middle of the level. The hard part came when we tried to communicate and execute the solution. At a certain point, we kept knocking boxes off a ledge out of frustration. It is in the moment of desolation that we rebounded and solved the puzzle, then decided to stop being friends because of how long it took.
Death Squared is pure chaos and fun with its complex, often deceptively simple co-op puzzles. Working with friends to accomplish your goals in the testing facility can either feel sublime or become a waking nightmare where you keep dying over and over again until one of you strangles the other to feel death’s sweet embrace IRL.
Death Squared is great for team-building exercises and learning how to communicate effectively. If you missed out on the gloriously chaotic fun of Death Squared, now is the perfect time to get in on the fun. It is another strong multiplayer game to add to your Nintendo Switch collection.
Death Squared was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
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