Death Squared Review
It hasn't even been a year yet and the Nintendo Switch eShop is flooded with titles for all tastes. Big AAA games, like Mario+Rabbids and Breath of the Wild, sit comfortably next to indie gems like Kamiko and Overcooked! and NeoGeo remasters like Metal Slug and Magical Drop. No matter what kind of games you enjoy, chances are there is something on the eShop that you'll love. One of the newest indies, Death Squared from developer SMG Studios, is an innovative, often genuinely funny puzzle game that, for fans of the genre, falls only behind Puyo Puyo Tetris in the current Switch puzzler lineup. Though best played with a friend, the game is still a load of fun solo. No matter which way you choose to play, the bargain basement price and challenge level combine to make this an easy addition to every Switch's library.
The core of Death Squared is a pretty simple one - you play as an engineer named David and your goal is to move little blocks around a board, trying to get each to its specified goal. There are all sorts of hazards and traps in the way, as well as switches, levels, elevators and the like. Each of the 80 puzzles in the story mode is unique and the difficulty ramps up from 1-2 deaths per stage to countless deaths trying to get some very exacting movements precisely correct. The challenge is a gentle slope, and by the time it gets extremely hard, you'll be comfortable enough with the game to keep trying until you succeed. As far as puzzle games go, the concept is a mishmash of a handful of games you've probably played before, but the resulting gameplay stew is fun, challenging and well worth it.
As much as I enjoyed Death Squared, I do have one beef with it. The game, and the entirety of the story, can be played in single player or with a partner, but single player doesn't feel as viable as the multiplayer. Especially in the later, more difficult levels, getting the two blocks where you need them to be simultaneously just feels borderline impossible. Maybe I'm getting old, but I just didn't have any luck finishing the game flying solo. With a friend, though, I was able to make it through to the end. Saying Death Squared has a single player mode is like saying The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes had a single player mode; sure, it's there, but you have to be a Rain Man-type savant to even have a prayer of making it work on your own.
Death Squared is a fun little puzzle game that, even after 80 stages, still remains fresh and engaging. Getting the hang of it only takes a few levels, but only the truly gifted will be able to handle some of the later stages solo. Multiplayer can be a fun time with the two Joy-Cons, but I wasn't particularly thrilled by the fact that enrolling a partner becomes almost necessary to finish the game's final bits. Either way, Death Squared provides plenty of fun for its low asking price, and should scratch any puzzle itch a Switch owner may develop.
Final Rating: 85% - Best played with a partner.