‘Death Squared’ Review: Dying With Friends

Death Squared is a new indie puzzle game from SMG Studios for the PlayStation 4. Players control various colored block robots as they move along various suspended platforms with the object of getting each block on its corresponding color node, all the while avoiding falling, various traps, or inadvertently killing a fellow robot. A puzzle game, a party game, and some new innovative gameplay await in Death Squared.

With 80 levels in story mode, solo or co-op, players navigate the increasingly difficult challenges. Each player controls a different blockbot and must communicate and move in a specific order to open up paths for each other. If one player goes too fast, it is very easy to trigger a trap and kill the other bot. Plan your moves and watch your surroundings intently. In one player story mode, you must control each of the two blocks yourself with each of the analog sticks This requires a bit of ambidextrous skill, an interesting play control that takes some getting used to. Once figured out though, Death Squared is extremely fun and challenging.

Death Squared also includes a three- or four-player party mode. In this mode, up to four friends can take on 40 different levels with even more challenging puzzles together. This was my favorite part of Death Squared. With four players it gets hectic and everyone starts yelling at each other “do this!” or “Go there!” Usually it ended with “Oh s*%t!” as we all collectively yelled at my buddy who fell off the ledge and we had to start over. Having alcohol at your “party” won’t help your survivability, but if everyone is a good sport, it can lead to a lot of laughter and good times.

To add even more content, there is a “Vault mode,” with 30 very challenging one to four player levels. For a simple concept, I was happily surprised with the amount there was to do in Death Squared. Like all good puzzle games, only the diligent will persevere. I died many, many, MANY times. The load time is so non-existent though I would just press on, getting better and better and was finally rewarded with the satisfaction, that while it took me 30 minutes, I finally beat that level.

The “story” mode is voiced by a character, David, an OmniCorp employee, who has been tasked with testing the bots. His computer AI, I.R.I.S., will converse, mock and generally make fun of David all while he makes snarky remarks about how many times your bots have died. I have to admit, whoever wrote the dialog for these two did a fantastic job. I found myself chuckling to a meme or Skynet reference a few times. The music is a digital synth sound that goes well with the theme of the Death Squared. It was fine if playing one or two player, but when the party was going we just turned it down to hear each other and supplied our own music.

Death Squared is another of the amazing puzzle games players have been blessed with in 2017. If you are up for a solo challenge, it’s a solid puzzle game. If you are looking for a fun party game with friends, Death Squared really shines. With an MSRP of only $19.99 you won’t be disappointed. So grab three more controllers, and get ready to die, with your friends.

Death Squared is available March 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam. This review is a based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.

out of 5

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