Out of the host of games that I got to check out during BIG Festival in July, Death Squared was easily the one that caused the strongest emotional response. That emotion was bewilderment, with a pinch of rage. It’s a really clever puzzle game that makes fantastic use of dual analog controls as you keep check on two robots tasked with completing cooperative puzzles. It’s all quite simple: each analog stick controls a bot, and you must move them simultaneously in order to complete puzzles. The thing is that there are traps along the way, usually on one bot’s side, which hamper the other’s progress.
Each of the bots has their own color that codes the kind of blocks they can stroll over, or even lasers that can one-shot them if not properly blocked. That’s where their friend comes into play, and they must cooperate, protecting each other from harm, or activating platforms that may carry their buddy wherever they need to go next. Playing Death Squared solo can be quite hectic, which is honestly the most fun aspect of the game. Levels are usually small, requiring only a couple of minutes of play in order to complete, so even if you get stuck, the solution is usually a few careful tries away.
Playing with a friend is a completely different experience, and it’s one that lends itself extremely well on the Switch, given how you can set the game up to be played on the tiny screen, each controlling their own bot. That’s when pure chaos ensues, unless both sides coordinate their moves. And even then, it’s quite hilarious to have to communicate as the levels get continuously more convoluted.
Death Squared also supports extra Joycon controls, for up to four players. I have not gotten a chance to try the game out with so many players on screen, but given my time playing with only a single other person and the madness that that was, I can only assume how messy and fun things can get with three other bots going at it.
But perhaps the best part of Death Squared is how the presentation ties itself together. Given this is a puzzle game set in stark, industrial looking environments, the humor comes from the cleverly written dialog between a human tester and the A.I voice that manages the testing facility. Both are absolutely hilarious in their dry, dark humor and blasé delivery while the poor bots explode, are stabbed, or fall to oblivion during the tests. These little guys are a treat of their own — even though they’re just cubes with eyes pretty much, they manage to convey plenty of silly, pathetic charm.
Death Squared is an excellent pick up if you’re looking for a fun drop in, drop out game for the Switch. Even though the current catalogue of games out for that system is still pretty meager, I would wholeheartedly recommend this to any Switch owner, even more so if you have friends that are into local cooperative gaming and don’t mind rubbing elbows doing so.