The Binary

by Bloomengine

Episode 2 of Vicious Cycles
Science Fiction

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Good time-bending hypertext idea, but with a few sticky elements., February 6, 2013
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: browser-based

The Binary is a browser based text'n'click game involving looping time travel. To describe it as a CYOA doesn't feel right, as the game keeps track of what you've done and also allows you to revisit locations, though the circumstances of the revisitings are unusual. In common with Operation Extraction, also from IFComp 2011, the timing of your actions is important in this timey game. I found the whole thing somewhat baffling to begin with, with a barrier to play in the form of potential initial uninterest. I think I'd rather The Binary had just told me what my goal was instead of making me work it out myself. Constant forward movement, albeit in a loop, can be mildly aggravating when you don't know what's going on yet and have no hook of intentionality to arouse your interest.

Once you do know what the story is about, it turns out to be as exciting as other stories of its kind often are - that kind being (Spoiler - click to show)stories about people trying to stop an assassination by locating snipers at the last minute. In the role of one of the guys I'm going to call Time Cops, you loop through the same few moments repeatedly, trying to string together the circumstances to bring about change. This scenario also brings about an eagerness to quickly return to the spot where you think you might next be able to best change things up, which is why the cutaway scenes which occur every time the repeating sequence ends are a distraction. They open a window onto a broader mythology, but not one that's too useful for the workings of this small game space. Once you've done some things over and over, it's frustrating to have to pass through the cutscene again, or just to have to wait before you're able to access certain links anew.

Ultimately The Binary is clever and becomes fun, and it's a smoother ride than its cousin (of sorts) Operation Extraction, but it could stand to be sharper.

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Jonathan Blask, February 7, 2013 - Reply
I thought the gameplay here was a definite improvement on what was seen in the first game in the series, Vicious Cycles, and I even have to admit that I enjoyed it enough that I went back and finally beat VC. I think the Blink system has served these games well, but it'd be interesting to see how well it'd work towards non-looping narratives.
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