First impressions of Death Squared

by: Kinsey -
More On: Death Squared

The year is 2066. You are an AI tasked with navigating a series of deadly courses in order to determine what your role in OmniCorp will be. Supervising you is a man named David and his own AI partner, congratulating your successes and berating your failures but otherwise not acting too invested in his job as a Testing Technician. The more you play, the higher the stakes rise, and while you skirt the deadly spikes and moving platforms the plot unfolds within David’s office.

If you only know one thing about Death Squared before you start playing it, then know this: no matter what—no matter how good you are, no matter how careful you are—you are going to die. A lot.

I’ve played my way through a large portion of the game by now, and I feel that I have the authority to say that it is a destroyer of relationships. I’m talking Mario Kart levels of destruction here. You open up the game, playing either with a friend in one mode or three friends in another, and soon enough all bets are off. There are no friends in Death Squared, but wow is it fun to play.

Funnily enough, it isn’t a competitive game; it’s entirely cooperative. If one of your friends is feeling a bit mischievous and not quite up to the trial and error required to figure out how to beat each level, you’re basically out of luck, but if there’s one thing I can attest to it’s that you’ll have a lot of fun failing. If everyone’s committed to figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing, well…I can’t exactly say that it’ll go smooth as silk, because it absolutely won’t, but that’s half the fun. No one likes puzzle games that take all of 30 seconds to solve.

And, I remember as I look ruefully at the death counter in the corner, team killing is entirely possible.

In fact, there are any number of ways to meet your end in a little robotic explosion. You can fall off the edge of a level, be pushed off the edge of a level, get impaled by spikes from below, get impaled by spikes from the side, get impaled by spikes from above, be crushed, or get hit by a laser—and that's only some of it. Arguably the most fun part is that half the time, you'll never see it coming.

That's where the trial and error comes in. There's no real penalty for dying; the death counter just goes up, and you get dropped at the beginning of the level along with anyone you happen to be playing with. Counting the aggressive team killing I was doing with my girlfriend, I think we were up to around 300 or 400 deaths. if cutthroat cooperation were ever a thing, this game would embody it.

Insofar (and I'm in so far), I note very few bugs, which is always a plus—but there is one thing. Imagine me completing 38 levels and, tired as anything, decide to shut down for the night. However, since I have previously encountered games with no save function, I decide to make sure my progress saves before I exit the game entirely. It does—or so it seems. Now imagine me eagerly booting it up the next day, only to find the level select from the previous day conspicuously absent, and having to play those 38 levels over again. This happened. It was heartbreaking. I had to play through 76 levels in a row for fear of losing my progress entirely.

Since I doubt this was intentional, I could overlook it so long as I always keep the game running in the background, and honestly the worst part of the struggle was how tired I got. I was never bored with the game, never frustrated with the mechanics, and never annoyed by anything other than my own lack of intelligence. I'm looking forward to finishing the two player mode and working through the party mode—full review soon to follow.

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