Death Squared (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

The best way to describe Death Squared is that it’s like a block pushing puzzle game, except you’re the blocks!  In the game you control two to four colored cube-shaped robots, and must get them to same colored targets without any of them dying.  But that’s easier said than done with all the traps laid out in each room!  Death Squared is available to download on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Play control is super easy to learn.  You just move with the analog stick and that’s it.  If you press a button, it’ll just make the robots’ eyes blink.  So anyone can learn how to play with little instruction.  But that’s the only easy thing about the game!

There are two main modes of play.  In the single player mode, you control two of the robots, one with the left analog stick, and one with the right.  You must get them both to markers of the same color to complete the level, but if one of them dies, you’ll have to start over again.  Sometimes stepping on panels will uncover traps, like spikes.  Other times, moving a certain way will make blocks move, which can push robots off the stage if you’re not careful. Also, certain colored lasers can zap certain colored robots, so you may have to use the other one as a shield.

The other main mode of play is Party Mode.  It’s just like the single player mode in terms of rules, but now you can play with two to four players.  If you just have two players, one will control two robots and the other will get the other two.  This mode is really tough, because if one player dies, everyone has to start over.  But it’s also a lot of fun, too.

The game has a few flaws.  When you start a level, there’s no way to tell what switch activates traps and how blocks will travel according to how you move.  So a lot of the deaths will be accidental and there’s not a good way to plan a strategy other than trial and error.  But the game is called “Death Squared” after all.  But since they judge your performance at the end of the level by how many times the robots died, it hardly seems fair.  Play control also seems a bit too sensitive and it’s really easy to fall off the sides.  Finally, in the single player mode in the background you can hear a scientist and a computer having conversations back and forth, as if they were testing the robots.  I think they were trying to go for a Portal style atmosphere and humor with that, but they missed the mark.  I would’ve been just fine with none of that in this game.

But other than that, it still remains a fun little puzzler.  There are nearly a hundred single player levels alone, and you unlock more puzzles and goodies if you beat them all in both modes!  And if you can get a group of friends together who all like these kind of puzzles, Party Mode is a blast.  I’d pick it up if you like puzzle games.

Kid Factor

Your robots can fall off the platforms, get skewered, and zapped by lasers, but they just explode and teleport back to where they started.  And since it’s all robots, violence is pretty minimal anyway.  The scientist and computer that talk in the background sometimes mention drinking, so there’s alcohol references, too.  Reading skill is helpful for navigating the menus, but not needed just to play.  Younger gamers may need help with the tougher puzzles, though.  Four player capability means the whole family can enjoy it together.  Death Squared is rated E for Everyone.

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