Platforms PC
Developer Ant Workshop
Publisher Ant Workshop
Release Date April 4, 2016

This game was reviewed using a key provided by the developer

Binaries is a puzzle game designed to test your reflexes, dexterity and multitasking. You control two different coloured balls, orange and blue, through a series of levels that get progressively harder and more complex the further through them you get. The catch? You control both balls simultaneously, with the same input. When you move left, you move both orange and blue left, and so on.

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If that sounds difficult, that’s because holy hell, this game is difficult. It’s infuriating, and you’ll want to snap your keyboard/controller in half. Or over the developer’s head. Seriously, I’ve never wanted to kick a developer in the shins before I played Binaries. I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course, because Binaries is super addicting as well as ultra maddening. Despite repeatedly hurling myself at the various challenges and repeatedly exploding one ball or another, hearing it proclaim a little “ow” every time it “died” – I kept going back for more. I knew I could do it, despite this being the 10th time I was attempting the level.

Binaries is absurdly simplistic at a base level. You can move orange and blue left and right, and you can jump. That’s it. All you’ve got to do is maneuver them to their respective goals and you win. In the beginning, even moving them at the same time is fairly simple. All you have to do is time your jumps well and you’re golden. And then the game starts layering in extra challenges – spikes, directional boosts, guns – and suddenly it gets pretty stressful trying to keep track of blue and orange at the same time, making sure that when you jump blue across a gap, you’re not hurling orange into the oblivion of a spike pit.

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It’s all about control. Thankfully, Binaries comes equipped with some excellently slick controls. I was able to guide orange and blue around the variety of levels with pinpoint accuracy, always able to stick the landing. Or one of the landings anyway. Poor controls will not kill you here, because Binaries doesn’t have poor controls. Coupled with the excellent level design, you’ve got a winning combination. I could always observe a level and, with a little trial and error, I always knew how to get where I was headed. You will die a lot in Binaries, but it’ll never be because you got screwed over by the controls or the levels.

The addictiveness comes from how well put together the game is, but also from the lightning fast gameplay. Most levels will take you less than a minute to complete successfully. Sometimes you’re in and out in seconds. When one of your balls explodes into tiny fragments you’re instantly reloaded to try again. There’s not really any time to think about stopping, not that you really want to in any event. You’ll keep getting pulled along at a steady pace, throwing orange and blue into all the spikes and gunshots possible, and all you’ll think is “let’s go again.”

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Or you might think “ow my brain” – because Binaries is most definitely a brain teaser. Controlling both balls with the same input is a novel concept, and one I absolutely loved from the moment I laid eyes on the first trailer. More than once I was left staring at the screen, asking myself “you want me to do what?” That feeling when I finally pulled off what I had decided was an impossible feat of dexterity just moments earlier? There’s nothing quite like it. The combination of level design and hazard placement, combined with the player input necessary to get orange and blue home, left me appreciating a game that is definitely well put together.

If you ever get stuck on a particularly tricky level, Binaries has got you covered there too. The 101 levels that make up the game are laid out across a Blockbusters-esque board. Completing a level will generally unlock a few more, so you can usually abandon any level you’re stuck on and tackle something else, a feature which is always appreciated in a puzzle game. For the more masochistic of players, each level also comes with a ranking system that tasks you with beating levels within a set time. If you want a full set of S-rank medals you’ll need to be extremely quick, sometimes finishing levels in mere seconds, adding an extra layer of challenge to an already challenging game.

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Binaries’ presentation is the icing on top of the well put together cake. Levels are made up of bold blues and oranges, which in themselves are a part of the game mechanics, as blue won’t die if he hits an orange hazard and vice versa. It’s a really pleasant game to look at. A dynamic soundtrack draws you into the game, which plays slow and soothing tunes when you’re stuck or otherwise not moving around very much, and gets much more excited when you’re flying across levels or otherwise doing something exciting, adding a lot to the rhythm of the game. Plus the game is pretty funny, via a series of footnotes displayed in the background of levels, though when you’re trying to look in four or five different places at once, it can sometimes be easy to miss these.

Summary

Binaries is a great puzzle game designed to test your reflexes and general awareness, which is code for “it wants to break your thumbs and melt your brain.” Also it’ll frustrate the hell out of you. But it does so in the way all good puzzlers do – you’ll be ready to throw a tantrum at the indignity and unfairness of it all, but once you’ve duct taped your controller back together again you’ll be ready for another shot. The game looks and sounds great, and thanks to some slickly designed controls and impressive level design, you’ll enjoy your time with it. 

8


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