New Game Review

Review – Deru: The Art of Cooperation (Switch)

There's a very good reason why it says "cooperation".

Deru: The Art of Cooperation is a minimalist looking puzzle game that can either be played cooperatively or solo. The subtitle proposes that this game is meant for two people who are supposed to cooperate, because despite the simple design, it necessitates two fully attentive minds that are keen to solving puzzles. While the game has the option to play solo, there is a crucial lack of detail for single player accessibility that makes the experience feel mean-spirited.

deruisabutt
The simple look and sounds avoid complication, but may leave you wanting more.

Deru is a very simple looking puzzle game, using a nominal amount of colors and sounds as you attempt to solve puzzles. It looked fresh, albeit meek and sounded even more simple and marginal. I wouldn’t call it lacking or lazy, but my personal preference desires a little bit more zest in both senses, not just a taste test.

Being a puzzle game, it’s appropriate that it doesn’t have a story or characters to care about. Routinely for me this would be a particular irritation, but rest assured, this type of game needs no introduction. The concept is simple: there are two identical shapes, one white and one black. Your goal is to get your color in its respective hollowed shape in order to progress. In your way are flowing streams of white and black. The white stream kills the white shape and the black kills black. The solution to this is using the color opposite the stream to block its flow, letting the other shape to progress.

deru-gameplay6
The puzzles can get tricky fast, but no time limits allow for planning out your next move.

Make no mistake, this game is unquestionably, 100% meant to be played with another person and when done so, is enjoyable and rewarding.  The puzzles are single screen and there isn’t a time limit, so players can take their dandy time working together to come to a solution. While playing this with my friend, I did feel moments of drag. It felt like one of my pieces was struggling to move normally despite nothing being in its way. Besides that small issue, everything else was simple and approachable.

Now, I have already stressed in this review that this game should be played cooperatively and that’s because Deru makes a fatal mistake introducing a Solo Campaign with a small lack of detail that made all the difference in the world and literally prohibited me of remotely enjoying a solo run. Each shape is controlled with a respective Joy-Con, however there is no indication on the screen as to which shape goes with what Joy-Con. You must simply rely on memory and I can guarantee you will forget multiple times.

Most puzzles have a lot of obstacles with very limited space and little-to-no wiggle room for mistakes. The combination of these two factors sent my anxiety spiking into levels of “I’m literally uncomfortable”. I found myself relentlessly fidgeting around in my seat and repetitively quadruple-checking which Joy-Con went with what shape before progressing and then proceeding to immediately screw up. I struggled through the first chapter as valiantly as possible, but I ultimately exhausted my tolerance and left the experience uneasy and upset. It is truly a quite polar opposite experience than which I had enjoyed with my friend.

derugrumps
Trust me in this one: bring a friend.
*photo courtesy of Game Grumps

Deru: The Art of Cooperation is overall a fun experience with an unfortunate mistake. The co-op version is quite fun, but attempting to play the solo campaign leaves the player feeling completely belittled, anxious, and unclean. I’m trying to avoid leaving readers with a bad impression on a game that is actually enjoyable, so let that be my final warning to you. If you’re going to have a “Solo” mode of a game that is meant for two people, make it playable for that one person, or don’t even bother at all.

 

Graphics: 6.5

The minimalist approach looks crisp, but most people have a taste that requires more.

Gameplay: 7.0

Simple movement, though there are some moments of “drag”.

Sound: 6.5

Another minimalist aspect of the game, while not hurting it, doesn’t do much in it’s favor.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Solving puzzles with a buddy is fun and rewarding. Simply trying to remember which piece you are when playing “Solo” is disastrous.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Deru: The Art of Cooperation is available now on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Deru: The Art of Cooperation was provided by the publisher.

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