Moving a block around to solve puzzles doesn’t seem particularly exciting. In fact, it seems positively quaint, considering the dizzying array of games out there, each faster, more complicated and more graphics-heavy than the next.
But SMG Studio proved that simple is good with Death Squared, a beautiful, fun puzzler. Simply, the game is about a low-level scientist testing the problem solving abilities of AIs in the form of blocks.
A simple premise, and a little reminiscent of Portal – except you are the AI here. As you solve puzzles, the scientist chats to his AI assistant. The conversations range from insightful to amusingly mundane. Occasionally, the scientist will remark on your progress, intrigued by your problem solving skills.
The puzzles start off simple and get progressively more complicated, with traps and different kinds of buttons which trigger different events (many of them deadly).
We played it single player and multiplayer (you can play with either two or four players), and it was a lot more fun multiplayer. Single player was also fun, but it’s multiplayer that the game really shines. The traps can be hidden or not, and sometimes you’re so focused on solving the puzzle that you don’t realise you’ve activated a button that has pushed your partner off the edge – until they’re dead, and the level restarts.
The puzzles are well-crafted, with a great difficulty balance – a lot of them take a few tries to get, but the levels reset instantly and you learn quickly from your past mistakes. The game never gets boring, with the puzzle rooms getting more and more intricate as you advance.
The real joy of Death Squared though, is in the multiplayer – the game is all about cooperation and communication, and is wonderful to play with someone you know, or people you don’t. If you’ve ever had an interest in cooperative games, puzzlers, or both, this is the game for you.
For more information and to buy it for PS4, Xbox One or PC, check out the Death Squared website.