Death Squared was one of the many games that we got to check out at PAX East this year, and it was pretty damn fun. I wasn’t sure how long the game would hold my attention, considering that I only really got to play for about ten minutes at the show.
The goal of the game is to get all of the cute little cube-bots into their goal areas to move on to the next puzzle. The game is definitely geared for 2-4 players as the single player mode is a bit lonely. When there’s more than one player, each player controls one of the bots, and everyone has to work together. When there’s just one player, you control two bots–one with each stick (it’s a little depressing, but still fun).
Let’s talk about the single-player first, since it’s a part of the game, after all. Controlling each cube with a stick messed me up a little bit at first. It took a few levels to get used to it, but it works well once you get it. Playing by yourself certainly has ups and downs compared to playing with others. For one thing, you don’t have to rely on anyone else screwing up or moving the wrong way and getting you blown up by a laser. On the downside, sometimes having multiple minds working on one puzzle helps it get done faster.
Brainstorming can be the one thing that keeps some of these puzzles from taking way longer than they need to.
Of course, the game is meant to be played with 2-4 players (best with four, it’s a great party game). When you’ve got four people playing, the possibilities are endless when it comes to completing most of the puzzles in the game. Some puzzles will force you to protect each other from color-coded lasers, push each other onto switches, etc. Sometimes you’ll have to control more than one cube at the same time, which can get ridiculous later in the game.
It’s pretty rewarding when you finally get everyone to their spots and finish the puzzle you’ve been grinding on for ten minutes. Some of the types of puzzles are actually pretty diverse early on in the game, incorporating lasers, bounce pads, and more. After a while, though, it becomes kind of apparent that the same mechanics get used over and over, just in somewhat of a different order.
The game doesn’t really get boring, per se, but I don’t think it’s something that’s really good to sit down and try to beat this one all at once. It’s a puzzle game, and I don’t imagine anyone–except for serious puzzle game fanatics–who would want to just sit and grind this out. It’s not really good for that. Like I said earlier: it’s a party game. It’s best suited for getting together every few days or so to try to complete a handful of puzzles. It definitely makes you think, and anytime a video game does that I’d say that it’s a good thing!
Although the game is alright by yourself, it does fall a little flat without co-op, and suffers from a lack of new elements in its puzzles. But it’s a good puzzle game, and it provides a great distraction for a couple hours here and there when you’re hanging out with a couple friends.
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Note: The writer of this review received a review copy of the game from the developer for the sake of the review.