Binaries

Binaries Review

Put your hemispheres in overdrive

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a Switch on

Binaries is also available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

ESRB Everyone rating

Some games are so difficult that they make you wonder if the developer is some sort of sadist. Binaries has you control two circles simultaneously through hazard-filled stages. So, if you're ambidextrous then here's a game for you!

Binaries screenshot 1
Killing's bad, mkay?

Wait, didn't I already review this? Although the orange and blue Semispheres that I reviewed earlier this year looks almost identical, the two games don't play alike at all. Binaries simply has you use the stick to move two circular chums simultaneously while tapping a button makes them jump. One of them is blue and the other is orange. This is important because they can only be hurt by hazards that are the same colour which is kind of counterintuitive but I'll let it slide. Anyway, the point of each single-screen stage is to guide both of these dots to their respective goals. Along the way, hazards such as spikes or projectiles will end both their lives in an instant. This creates a puzzle dynamic as merely figuring out how to complete each stage is more than half of the battle. Actually executing your plan is another story. In the end, it makes for quite a brain workout.

One aspect of Binaries that I thoroughly appreciate is its soundtrack. Whereas many similar games feature a repetitive limited selection of tunes, Binaries includes a variety of toe-tapping tracks that play in rotation. The visuals are generally clean and don't distract from the mostly stressful gameplay. As you progress through a stage, text will pop up that taunts you or tells a quirky joke yet it's subtle enough to not get in the way. Unfortunately, there isn't much visual variety. You can put the graphics through a handful of filters but only one of them felt right for me. I wish there were worlds and each one swapped the colour scheme and textures. Instead, all you get is plenty of orange and blue and it gets old fast. The understated backgrounds change but that's just not enough.

Binaries screenshot 2
Whoa, maybe I shouldn't have toggled to that zany filter!

The campaign in Binaries consists of a massive map that allows you to unlock a few levels for every one that you complete. In total, there are 101 of them to master. It goes without saying but that's a lot of content! There is some replay value in the sense that you can try to get an "S" grade on all of the stages as well as beat your previous completion times. That being said, I can't help but wish there were online leaderboards or some sort of multiplayer component. Merely working through 101 similar-looking stages solo doesn't quite add up to a fulfilling experience. Even a simple list of achievements or a few fun mini-games would have remedied this.

As I've already mentioned, Binaries is one tough game. Therefore, if you don't have much patience and hate replaying the same stages over and over again then you probably won't have a good time here. Almost beating a stage but then accidentally getting one of your dots snagged on the side of a spike would make even the Dalai Lama pissed off. On top of this, some stages are set up in a way that you have to complete them with 100% accurate precision. For example, making the dots just a bit further apart or closer together might be enough to mess up a stage. Thankfully, this is only true in a minority of the levels but it's still annoying having to be that precise.

Binaries screenshot 3
I must admit; some of these stages can be pretty clever

Binaries is certainly a unique and challenging platformer that often feels like a puzzle game. However, its fun factor almost entirely relies on your willingness to persevere through seemingly impossible situations solo within a singular campaign mode.

  • + Mind-bending stages with platforming gameplay where you control two things at once
  • + Pretty cool soundtrack
  • + Loads of levels to master
  • - Frustration factor is through the roof / some stages require too much precision
  • - Visuals don't feature enough variety
  • - Lack of extra modes and leaderboards
6.0 out of 10
Gameplay video for Binaries 5:40
Which Lego Dimensions Minifigure Are You?

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