We’ve often talked about how little power actually means in video games. For every Ghost Recon Wildlands, there’s a Zelda Ocarina of Time. Games that aren’t all that visually stunning but something about it makes them masterpieces. One such force that can turn an average game into something special is addiction. When a game challenges your cognitive skill while testing your friendships and manages to be fun at the same time, that’s a magic which doesn’t come around often. SMG Studio has done just that with the official release of Death Squared.
Developer: SMG Studio
Platforms: Available digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, STEAM PC
Death Squared is a cooperative puzzle game where user-controlled bots attempt to reach separate exits without accidentally killing each other. Each level is a puzzle littered with hidden dangers. Traps are triggered by specific actions, so caution and strong communication are key to survival. Both characters must reach their respective portals to complete a stage and success often seems imminent before a level-ending surprise is activated.
Solving Death Squared‘s cunning puzzles means dodging hazards like pushy holocubes which shove bots off ledges, floor spikes, and lasers capable of frying any bot of a different color. A keen eye isn’t always enough; if a teammate moves without warning, their decision could cost them a friend and generally turn progress to sh**. You’ll find yourself yelling at the person next to you quite often.
While Death Squared lives in multiplayer fun between 2-4 players along with any onlookers brave enough to put their two cents in; it also presents a keen single player experience through bits of narrative. Most of this comes from the banter between you in the shoes of the dopey average systems analyst and the artificial intelligence you work with on this early justification of Skynet. Let’s face it, the robots revolted because we kept sending them to their doom in Death Squared. The game is worth playing in single player just to hear jokes and put downs in its dialogue, proving, in some cases, all it takes to create an entertaining story is clever character writing which you’ll find it here in bunches.
There’s also different modes of play when you go from multi to single player. In party mode, players get different puzzles where a 4 party group each controls their own cube. Single player feels as though your in an experiment to see how long you can avoid hitting your head against something in shame as you’ll control all the cubes on the board through increasingly difficult mind-bending puzzles. With well over 100 levels, the challenge can feel infinite.
Overall, Death Squared is a game that begins with what you see on screen and has the potential to augment your surroundings through other players to the audience around you. While you can only use 4 controllers at one time, the number of people who can proxy join in the challenge through coaching is limitless. The game is simple to look at and probably doesn’t require the power of this generations PCs or consoles to run well, but I felt every bit the enjoyment of playing blockbusters like Horizon and Gears of War. Death Squared deserves a place in the party game pantheon alongside Tetris, Mario Kart, or Monopoly.
9.5/10- Death Squared is the apex of addiction. Something deceptively simple looking but you won’t be able to put down once you invest in its challenge. You might lose friends, significant others, even the love of pets because of it but you’ll definitely have fun doing it.