I never expected to love this game as much as I do. Silly little titles like this have never appealed to me much but wow, did Death Squared on the Nintendo Switch amaze me and really show me what this platform is for. Sure, the game has been released on other platforms previously (pretty much ALL of them, in fact) but that didn’t stop me from having an absolute blast and challenging friends and family to play along and beat my high scores. It was an incredible thing, and a feeling I’ve not had since the WiiSports days.
Death Squared has a lot of thanking to do to Valve and the Portal series for inspiring this fun, funny box-bot puzzle game. When Valve released Portal in 2007, they opened developers' eyes to an entire genre of games that people had no idea they wanted until they saw it. Another example of this phenomenon is the runaway success of early Switch title Snipperclips. Both titles were fun and easy to share with friends and family and were obvious inspirations for Death Squared.
At its core, the game is quite simple; you control two to four colorful robot cubes and are tasked with getting each to their designated color marker without letting them die. These bots can be used to trigger things such as floor buttons which can open paths to additional parts of the puzzle. It’s incredibly fascinating and incredibly frustrating at times. This is only further exacerbated by the fact that there is a running death tally in the corner. I lost count of the number of times I swore at my screen after hitting one of the many hidden traps in each level.
Thankfully, every visible hazard is color coded. Robots are also immune to traps of their own color. For example, a blue robot can block a blue laser, which allows a red robot to pass through unharmed, but if you cross the path of the other color, it’s another notch in the counter in the corner.
On the Switch, the design is incredibly well done, with each joy con control stick controlling a separate color in all directions. The levels are all well designed and incredibly easy to read (even if they aren’t all that easy to figure out). You can collect things like cosmetic robot decorations and patterns for levels. All in all, a welcome touch for something so polished already.
There are 80 two player levels and 40 four player levels within the game so needless to say, you won’t run out of content any time soon. There is also an in game “vault” which is a series of harder puzzles that “show no mercy” when challenged.
Like most Switch-centric titles we’ve seen lately, Death Squared really shines when you play it with others. While there isn’t anything earth shatteringly new to be found inside, what it does offer is an incredibly well executed set of ideas and it still amazes me to see how some of the levels come together to form yet another death trap.
It’s worth noting however, that this game IS difficult. I don’t recommend playing with younger children, as the puzzles might be too complex for some to handle. There is a solid, sometimes steep learning curve here and it’s not long into the game before it starts demanding almost razor like precision from your movements.