Binaries has arrived on the Nintendo Switch eShop, adding another puzzle game to an ever-growing - and high-quality - list of games in the genre. In some ways Binaries is incredibly similar to Semispheres (a fun little puzzler released on the eShop not too long ago), yet at the same time is the exact opposite. Before you get too confused, though (and before we start to question just how useful that last sentence actually was), let’s jump into things!
The aim of the game is to guide two balls (one orange, one blue) into corresponding goals within each level. Easy, right? There is one catch, though; both balls are moved by using the same control stick and must traverse along completely different layouts to reach their end-point. You can make the balls jump by pressing ‘A’ (again, this will affect both of them at the same time) and must guide them over scenery, spikes, and whatever else stands in their way until they are both sitting all warm and snuggly inside their own coloured goal.
As you might imagine this is no walk in the park. The game does start off with easy levels, showing you the ropes until you’re ready, but it soon evolves into a rage-inducing level of complexity that will make you shout at yourself for hitting the exact same spike 84 times in a row. Getting the hang of controlling both characters at the same time (and keeping an eye on both simultaneously, making sure their individual paths are still safe) can be extremely challenging. This does change from level to level – sometimes we would complete a stage in a matter of seconds; others had us stumped for a while. The trickier stages are infuriating, but in a really good way.
There are a whopping 101 levels in all, steadily becoming available as you progress. As you delve deeper into the game you’ll start to come across new mechanics such as guns and teleports which usually hinder your quest further. It also keeps track of your rank for each level - either S, A, B, or U is awarded depending on your completion time – and a really nice statistics menu shows you your overall game completion, how many levels you’ve completed, how many you’ve unlocked, how often each rank has been achieved, and even how many deaths you have had so far. If you are both a completionist and a speed-runner then this is most definitely the kind of game for you.
Binaries has a simplistic but modern aesthetic; the orange and blue colour scheme works nicely (and is one that seems to be quite popular among indie titles at the moment). If you wish, you can actually change the game’s appearance in the settings; an option allows you to make the entire screen grey for example – adding extra challenge as you’ll have no idea as to which ball needs to go where – or a pixelated look is also available if you’re into retro-styled visuals. Each level is also supported by text that appears on screen – little, and often cheeky notes that are left by the game developers. These contain some really nice humour (often at the expense of themselves in an endearing way) and whilst it isn’t an essential part of the package, it does help to keep you smiling as you play.
Things do start to feel slightly repetitive after a while, however. There are things in place to help with this such as the introduction of new features (like the teleports), but ultimately the entire game has a very similar feel to it. This is hard to avoid in puzzle games that revolve around one main idea, though, and in the end its success will come down to whether or not each individual player enjoys that one idea enough. Binaries does what it does really well – the puzzles can get pretty wild at times and everything is presented really nicely – but we never found ourselves in awe of how intricately designed the puzzles were; the increase in difficulty tended to be generated from added chaos rather than logic.
Overall, then, Binaries is a decent puzzler that is definitely worth the time of players who can’t resist having a ‘100%’ icon plastered over their save file and enjoy speed-running through dangerous levels. It doesn’t tend to innovate past its main theme, though – instead relying on more obstacles, spikes and guns to make things trickier. If you’re desperate for a puzzle game that will have you trying to complete levels over and over again (before feeling a huge amount of satisfaction when you finally complete one you’ve been stuck on), then this may well be for you.