You Don't Have The Balls
By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on August 29th, 2016 for Xbox One (Also on PS4 & PC)
Developer: Ant Workshop Publisher: Ground Shatter Ltd.
Blue. Orange. Challenge. My brain has been melted into this simple algorithm after playing a couple hours worth of Binaries. Like a slot machine that kicks you in the groin each time you put a coin in, Binaries is deviously challenging yet temporarily addicting. It is a constant “just one more” situation, yet most of the time the “one more” is not a new level, but one you have repeatedly died on and need to complete. Though my feeble mind is too weak to beat the entirety of the game, what I did play was a smart and hilariously arrogant puzzle game from Ground Shatter Ltd. In a game with only two buttons being used, what can go wrong? A whole lot actually.
Binaries pits two colored balls, one orange and one blue, in deadly maps that you must navigate them across to see them to the finish line. With the levels being immediately intimidating, you may think that the obstacles in front of you are the only thing standing in your way. But you would be terribly wrong, as the game will tell you time and time again. You actually have to move both balls at the same time. Move left, they both go left, move right, they both go right. You get the idea! This makes the game as challenging as they come. With moving obstacles, deadly spikes, and other things like ninja stars trying to kill you, managing only one ball would be a trying task. Now you have two. Like an unexpected second child, the stress piles up as you bounce your attention back and forth while hoping the other one is okay. The levels are seemingly designed by Bond villains as well. The game is straight up evil (but in a good, puzzle game way I assure you). The silver lining is that as smart as the obstacles are, there are also smart ways to navigate them. The maps are typically orange and blue as well, and when you roll your ball on the opposite color, it is safe from any death causing obstacles that do not match it. So orange spikes are no match for a blue ball, and blue ninja stars won't scratch the orange ball. There is also other cool things like warp holes, jump pads, and time extensions that will change the way you play. Though my time was mostly filled with pain, agony, and self-doubt, there were some good times to be had.
These good times were backed up by some surprisingly funny moments. On many of the levels you will see text across some of the more open sections of the layout. In most cases, it is the game mocking you and egging you on, trying to get a rise out of you. Sometimes it is just funny, witty comments that keep you smiling. I would like to imagine that GlaDOS is somewhere behind the scenes, coming up with each bit of text that serves as a punch to the confidence (it would make sense considering the color scheme.) I would have never expected to have this level of humor in the title going in blind, and it is a welcoming as well as fitting aspect to the overall package. The game also has some charming and funky tunes that made me feel like I was listening to a glorious Dreamcast era Sega title screen. There is just something about the music that stuck.
As I mentioned earlier, I am not able to beat the entirety of the game. Not even close. But as a puzzle title, I feel this is more than understandable. Binaries is like the Dark Souls of puzzle games, and if you are into the sort of punishm...I mean challenge, it is definitely wo
rth looking into. As a complex puzzle game, it is not for everyone. From what I played though, there is a lot to offer here for the puzzle fans out there, and for only $10 you can test your brain and raise your blood pressure. Binaries is systematic punishment, but in a bright, groovy, smart and witty package. You have been warned.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7.5/10
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