Death Squared is a member of that unique category of cooperative puzzle game. Little square robots maneuver around platforms to reach their color-coded ending spot. It can be played solo, by moving robots one (or two) at a time, the game shines when played fully cooperatively – so you can congratulate or humiliate your partner depending on their performance in solving the puzzle.
In Death Squared, two to four robots roam around on platforms, trying to reach their ending square. At its simplest, players need to find a way to maneuver around each other to get to their finish square without falling off, causing the level to reset. Driving your robot around does take a small amount of technique, as it took me a few levels to get to the point where my poor robots would no longer regularly fling themselves off into the great void (which simply resets the level to the start.) The game features a one or two player campaign mode, where you the player are a technician running the robots through a series of tests (complete with wisecracks at the robots’ performance.) The party-game option allows gameplay with up to four simultaneous players, adn there is also a set of levels designed to be especially challenging.
As any good puzzle game goes, as you play further, the levels get more complicated. Some platform locations are triggers that set off traps in other parts of the level’s platforms. You have to cross those spots at some time, so it becomes a matter of moving each robot in turn to find the “safe spot” for one robot while a second robot crosses over that trigger. Eventually, platforms start to move around depending on robot locations. One robot can “ride around” on top of another. My favorite, in terms of setting up nice logic puzzles, are the transparent platforms. Robots “fall through” any platforms of a matching color. This allows for the entertaining moment of robots riding each other around across non-matching transparent platforms.
The game does a great jobs of giving the little robots flavor. There are four colors of robots and you get to choose the “costume” for each one. This makes it all the sadder when you accidentally fall off the platform (and you will fall off) due to inept maneuvering. Yes, the game is entirely playable solo by hopping between control of each robot in turn. However, I did find that I quickly would forget which joystick controlled which robot and it was highly entertaining for the younger folks in my house to laugh at my poor robot’s death wish. The PS4 controller assigns one joystick to each robot and it was easy for me to forget which controller controlled witch robot. (If that’s not enough, you can even flip between all four robots playing solo.) However the biggest selling point is the fact that the game can be played by up to four players, giving gamers a chance to succeed or fail depending on their friends’ performance. The multiplayer aspect and the little robots combine to give this a fun little game for family play. The game requires a bit of coordination, but not beyond the abilities of most young gamers. With a lack of text, Death Squared is recommended even for the younger set.