Squares is a simple reflex game where you have to turn squares light grey and avoid tapping the red blocks all while under a time constraint. There are multiple ways to do so, but synching your thoughts and actions together is one of the main challenges of the game. Even for its simplistic-sounding nature, I love the challenge Squares delivers.
The presentation of the game is great and certainly something you’d expect out of a puzzle/reflex game. The inclusion of a bar for time instead of numbers counting down adds to the haste and daunting nature that some of the puzzles present. Again, the game is simple and so is its design. However, the level selection screen is not as intuitive as I would like. You have to scroll through the levels to find the one you want, while it would be much simpler (and faster) to have the left and right buttons serve as navigation tools that skip back or ahead ten levels. Besides that, there is not much on the screen and it’s a good choice because there’s enough going on that anything else would distract and take away from the experience.
The music is also very good – it’s upbeat and fast, and it almost puts you in a trance while tapping away. Everything is fast in the game and it just makes so much sense because, obviously, that is the objective of the game.
The campaign starts with a few intuitive, instructional levels that are very smart and feel in no way as a chore. When it’s done introducing some of the game’s basic mechanics, it just opens it all up to you (which I like best). There are some limitations on what levels you can play however, due to having to achieve a certain number of stars on levels to continue.
The game does have a weird difficulty curve. You’ll plow through some levels back-to-back before hitting a difficult one that is insanely hard – and that’ll happen over and over again. This isn’t as much of a problem, though, because the game lets you choose any level you have unlocked to play – and trust me, you will definitely be utilizing this feature when you get stuck and just have to keep playing Squares due to its addictive nature.
Squares’ gameplay is where the game really shines. It uses many mechanics to vary the type of puzzles you will encounter on each level; sometimes you’ll be using the touchscreen on either side of the Vita to solve the puzzles, while others you’ll be using the tilt motions to turn the squares grey. It’s a brilliant mechanic that makes you think. When all the mechanics are finally introduced to you, you’ll find yourself trying to figure out how best to complete the level – because sometimes the order does matter. For example, you could have the pinch, sliding, double tap and motion squares all on a single puzzle; and the motion squares won’t be eliminated unless you have turned the squares in front of it grey. It really makes you think on your feet.
Even though I adored Squares and loved every minute of it, I found that its 91 levels were over fairly quickly, which for me was a span of two hours. I didn’t feel much motivation to return to the campaign other than to cleanup some missing trophies I had left over, and this was my main problem with the game.
That said, the game does come with a level maker – which LEAP Game Studios does a brilliant job of implementing and explaining how use – however, the levels are only playable by the creator at the moment. We asked LEAP Game Studios about this and they told us that they do plan on including online level-sharing one day, however it isn’t included day one and the game feels like something’s missing without it.
Squares is fantastic. I had so much fun playing it and even though I failed (a lot) I never once blamed the game; that blame was all my own. The game drew me in easily and I wanted to find a reason to stay with it, but there isn’t (and won’t be one until they patch in online level-sharing). It is easily worth your money – just as long as you expect it to be a solid, short experience.