PAX East 2016: Death Squared Impressions

Go no further than SMG Studio’s Death Squared if you’re looking for a cooperative game to both frustrate your spatial sensibilities and tickle your puzzle-hungry brain. With either 2 or 4 players, the point of the game is to navigate your way out of rooms fraught with pushers, bumpers, cliffsides, and of course, lasers.

When you start the game, your first challenge is to understand how the colors work. If you’re the blue robot (which, by the way, resembles something halfway between a refrigerator and a washing machine), then you aren’t affected by blue conditionals. You block the blue lasers, aren’t affected by the blue spikes, and aren’t pushed around by the blue walls. Same goes for the red robot, and so on.

Gameplay and Strategy

So the gameplay consists of you and your cooperative players trying to figure out how to move, specially and sequentially, in order to get your robot onto your colored target. That’s how you move on to the next level. So it’s essentially a cooperative puzzle with some physical skill required, as well as concentration, memory, and temporal focus.

And the physics are part of the what makes the game interesting as well. The rules of each level have a tendency to shift on you, so you have to relearn them each time. And if you had to pick a feel for how your robots move, you might say they were on something a bit like a gummy oil slick, and there’s some inertia involved in the gameplay as well.

Communication Is the Key

The keys to both winning and having fun are all about cooperation and communication. You and your partners have to observe together, learn together, solve the riddle together, form a plan together, and then shimmy, pixel by pixel and move by move, in order to reach the end goal. One mistake, one missing piece of focus, one forgetful moment, and it’s back to square one of the room.

And whereas some types of players might be ruffled by this necessity of getting along and being able to talk in discrete steps, other types of gamers will find that the cooperative factor is what makes Death Squared, in particular, so much fun to play.

The possibility for expansion on a game like this is infinite as well. Because the physics of play, the types of obstacles, and the ability to constantly create new game levels will always be changeable, there’s lots of room to continue evolving the concept over time.

Related Posts