PAX West 2016: DEATH SQUARED
Do you enjoy accidentally fucking over your friends in video games and watching them die over and over again? If so, let me tell you about “DEATH SQUARED” from SMG Studio in Sydney, Australia.
Born after 48 laborious hours in a Game Jam, “DEATH SQUARED” features single player and two-player cooperative story mode and four player party mode, with levels that increase in difficulty as the players advance through the game.
Players each take control of charming, boxy robots and attempt to move them onto their respective colored circles in order to complete the level. Simple enough—other than the death traps that can be triggered by any player, causing their own death or the deaths of their friends. Not to worry, though; death is part of the game, and hopefully after a multitude of deaths the players learn from the mistakes they made and finally make it out alive.
I had the privilege of sampling both two and four-player modes with some friends at PAX West 2016. We hopped onto the two-player mode first while we waited for a four-player station to open up. Knowing that I suck at puzzle games, I had minor anxiety about playing with a small backseat audience; that anxiety immediately melted away when my friend made the first move and blew me up. Between many deaths, laughs, and a lot of shit talking, we eventually started communicating with each other and made progress.
We definitely struggled more when we moved to the 4-player station. Having two additional robots to move through the field complicated things, and our fourth player wasn’t as vocal as the rest of us. This really emphasized the importance of teamwork and communication in “DEATH SQUARED.”
I loved playing “DEATH SQUARED” so much that, once our time was up, I was continually trying to drag other friends to the booth to play some more. My only complaint is that, for now, the game is only couch co-op. As a person whose friends live very far away, this presents a problem. While it may force me to invite some acquaintances over, at the end of the day, I just want to play with my friends.
I might just have to fly to LA for a weekend to play with friends once “DEATH SQUARED” is officially released, which is currently planned for the first quarter of 2017 on Xbox One and PC.