If you’ve seen any advertising for the Nintendo Switch, then you know the company is pushing local co-op play hard, and they should be! Don’t get me wrong, online co-op is fun and all, but I miss the days of having a group of friends under the same roof battling it out in Halo or TimeSplitters 2. I also miss having friends under one roof working together to try and beat a game like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros 3, or Streets of Rage II. There’s an energy and connection that’s just different when someone is right next to you as opposed to only hearing their voice online. Since launch, Switch has seen quite a few notable local co-op releases like Snipperclips, Street Fighter II, Overcooked, and more.
Well, you can add Death Squared to that list as well.
You play as a technician named David who’s tasked with guiding two blocky robots through a series of tests—80 of them to be exact. I should mention early on, that these stages are all about trial and error, so expect to die a lot. So much so that it feels like dying is a game mechanic. You can perish alone or with a friend, but either way it’ll be an exercise in patience. Your goal is simple—get the robots to their colored teleporter without dying. The biggest problem is you, the player, are your only enemy. You see, the stages are also littered with switches that may or may not activate spikes in unsuspecting areas, blow up sections in others, or just drop the floor out from underneath you. You’ll never know. This results in surprise deaths and is something you have to remember not to repeat again in order to progress to the next level. Upon dying, you have to start the stage over but fortunately they reload instantly just like the wonderfully punishing Super Meat Boy. Both game devs were smart in knowing that games of this ilk absolutely cannot be bogged down with load times, even for a few seconds. But that’s what each level is all about—discovering how your actions effect the environment around you by discovering it blind.
To help lighten the mood and make you smile, the game will play really witty banter between David and your A.I. partner, Iris. It all has a very Portal feel to it which I have no issues with at all. You’ll hear them comment back and forth during gameplay moments on things like your dying over and over or Iris informing David he’s replaceable. It’s funny and thankfully never obnoxious or overdone and I really enjoyed their conversations during the brief loading screens between levels. The only control scheme you have is moving your robots, although I found through self-discovery that you can make them dance. That was cute! Each bot can also sport a decal that can be changed at any time.
If for some reason the 80 provided levels aren’t enough, you can try Party Mode which forces players to coordinate in new and unique ways. You could also play this mode by yourself, if you so choose, but having to hold down buttons to swap back and forth is more hassle than it’s worth. If you’re like our beloved Daney and love punishing your brain with puzzles, there’s also a vault with even more two- and four-player stages for you to try and figure out. There’s not much else to say about Death Squared. It’s an environmental puzzle game that can be played both solo or with a friend with humorous dialogue that feels at home on Switch. You can grab it right now for $14.99