That’s what Squares is. It is gaming’s Eau de Parfum: the more concentrated cousin of what everyone else is doing. Similarly, Squares is a no-frills gaming experience. What, before the advent of smart devices, we might have called an “arcade” game.
And man, does it feel good to play something like this again.
Squares is all about the gameplay and level design. The first consists on having to tap and/or slide squares across the Vita’s screen using the front or rear interfaces at a frenetic, frantic pace (yes, there’s a timer). Tap the wrong square? Start again. Too slow? Start again. The level design is where that comes into play: the devilishly placed red squares will have you swearing from hell and back, as tapping them will reset you to the first screen of the stage.
Now, let me get a niggle out of the way: a lot of people will complain that this looks and feels like an “iPhone game”. I understand where you’re coming from, my good sir. I really do. At the end of the day, however, if you judge a game, not by its mechanics, but by its true merits, by the sheer enjoyment that it brings you… then you and I will see eye to eye again, and you’ll see why I like Squares so much.
It’s just really, really fun. Yes, there are issues of ergonomics when playing for a long time, but that’s not what the game is about. This is a portable game that will try to grab you, not for 40hs straight (I’m looking at you, Monster Hunter), but 10 seconds at a time. And it excels at that.
In fact, my only gripe with the game (and it’s really with my setup), is that using my Nyko Power Grip, it’s sometimes hard to tap the rear touchscreen. But that’s on me.
The music on the game feels like the composer was on Ritalin (no judgement if you were, my friend). It is fast-paced, well composed, but ultimately, somehow lost during your extreme concentration on the tap-tap-slide routine the gameplay has you performing.
The design is minimalist and absolutely beautiful. It uses a design language that is not very different from Google’s Material Design: flat, pastel-y. Ultimately fast, and gorgeous.
Squares is not a game for everyone. If you’re into deep stories a-la Final Fantasy VII, look elsewhere. If you’re into grand experiences a-la Uncharted, you’ll be disappointed. If what you want is to shoot zombies in the head, this is not your game.
If what you want is a game that’s easy to learn and hard to master, a game that is reminiscent of the arcade games of old… if what you want is gaming, distilled, then Squares is the best $5 you’ll spend on the PSN Store today.
- Title: Squares
- Publisher: LEAP Game Studios
- Developer: LEAP Game Studios
- System: PS Vita
- Format: Digital Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- PlayStation TV Compatible: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 364Mb