Sunday, November 11

Review: Deru - The Art of Cooperation [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Local co-op gaming is definitely back with a vengeance with the Switch and that has created a pretty crowded space for developers to try to break into. Whether using novel ideas, interesting visuals, or smart variations on known themes standing out from the competition is a real challenge. One approach that can have its appeal is to use a minimalist and clean aesthetic, which can certainly have a certain uncluttered beauty. That seems to have been the guiding objective for Deru: The Art of Cooperation.

What this boils down to is it’s a puzzle game where you can either work with a friend or do the left/right brain thing solo to solve some devious puzzles. Doing this may require that you position yourselves in the way of streams of color to allow the other to pass, or as you progress you may need to grow yourself in order to survive quickly moving through a same-colored stream, hoping to get out before you’re reduced to nothing. These puzzles require thought and coordination but to a degree they can also challenge your sense of timing and dexterity, especially if you were to take it on by yourself. Each analog stick controls one of the characters and while you can get through it all you can expect to wear yourself out a bit mentally keeping track of which stick controls which character on-screen.

Already having played quite a number of games with a similar set-up on Switch I’m sort of down the middle with Deru. Both in terms of the aesthetics and ambient music it is a subdued and even beautiful experience, which is a plus. The puzzles are certainly varied and some even may seem overwhelming at first as you try to figure out what you’ll need to do to get through them. Even once you have your plan in place execution is critical and this isn’t set up to be a cake walk by any means. However, in terms of overall creativity, diversity, and requiring outside of the box thinking to push you it isn’t quite in the same league as something like Death Squared, so it’s quite good but not at the top of its category.

Score: 7

  • Terrific visuals and music make it a pleasing overall experience in general
  • Some creative puzzles that require planning and dexterity to solve
  • Ideally played with a friend to bounce ideas between you and have fun trying to coordinate

  • Though it is playable solo if you have no plans to play with someone else it may not be ideal
  • This is a bit of a crowded space on Switch and there may be stronger options if cooperative puzzling is what you’re looking for