Binary Maze by Navina Games – An Indie Game Review

Binary Maze by Navina Games – An Indie Game Review

Platforms: PC, Mac

Game Name: Binary Maze

Developer: Navina Games

Genre: Puzzle

Release Date: June 18 2013

Binary Maze – What We Think:

In Binary Maze, you help navigate a young couple through a monster riddled maze, utilizing a single set of controls for both players, while collecting blue gems to increase your score.

Can two minds become one great game? Or does Left Girl not know what Right Boy is up to?

Although the concept of Binary Maze has you controlling two separate characters at once, you’ll sadly feel like you’ve seen everything this game has to offer in half the time it takes to complete a playthrough.


Not Seeing Double

While the characters and environments feature elegantly crafted pixel art, there’s not nearly enough diversity present between stages to feel like you’re making any notable progress through the game. Monsters come in 4 varieties and 2 of them are virtually palette-swapped versions of each other (the red and blue aliens). Though the sprites are bright and cheery (I’m sure at a conceptual level they were button-puppy cute) and I was initially impressed by their visual “pop,” I found that I had grown bored of them by the third or fourth level, and by more than halfway through the game, I began to believe that I was never going to see anything new, as there was virtually nothing holding my attention visually.

On an aesthetic level, the environments come off much the same as the character presentation: they are highly stylized, and yet with only a handful of tile-sets, and only 3 level backdrops, the initial enchantment the game holds, fades rather quickly. While every level’s tile-set does contain a certain amount of charm, there’s nary enough to keep you engaged visually for very long; by the time you reach a new level, the novelty of fresh elements is a relief, however that feeling is often short-lived.

The music is probably the strongest part of the presentation. Each of the three stages features a catchy looping tune, which is just nonabrasive enough to blend in seamlessly to accompany the action. While you won’t be humming these tunes through the rest of the day, they also won’t distract you from the task at hand.


Love Will have Difficulty Finding a Way

The mechanics driving Binary Maze are simplistic, utilizing only the directional keys and space bar to help you navigate your way through every maze in the game.

As it asks you to control two characters simultaneously, the game controls feel similar in theme to Man Enough (our review); if that seems like it may take some getting used to, you also have to keep in mind that each of the characters are essentially mirror images of each other: If you move one right, the other moves left. It’s a simple concept that actually does more to extend game play value than any of the other-box moving or switch-pushing tasks that Binary Maze implements.

While the concept is apt enough to create some interesting and engaging moments, there are some quirks that appear on a frequent enough basis that they become hard to overlook. On occasion the wind gusts that you shoot from your hand will pass through objects that you are seemingly close enough to destroy; I also encountered moments when enemies would pass through these bursts of air if I wasn’t perfectly aligned with their current path.

Attacking is from Mars, Connecting is from Venus

On this note, enemy encounters in general have a certain element of chaos to them. On occasion, if you are trying to focus on the movements of one of your two characters the character you are trying to leave in a safe area will often get bum-rushed by a monster, that moments before, seemed to be otherwise oblivious to you. While it’s not at the game’s fault to ask you to pay attention to both characters (they are linked after all) it’s the controls’ lack of responsiveness and precision that results in these moments becoming neither an easy, nor a fun task to undertake.

Still, there is enough creativity and ingenuity in the duality of the level design that you will still feel a good sense of accomplishment, not just relief, from completing a level. Just don’t attempt speed runs unless you’re bent on aggravation.


He Said, She Said

Binary Maze does just enough to keep their quirky puzzle game from being too bland, but not much else. The presentation is affable, but somewhat lacking, and the controls are serviceable but could have used some fine-tuning.

The USD $2.99 asking price isn’t outrageous, but I can think of better uses for your money. Still, if you do enjoy maze-style puzzle games, and have patience enough to work through some wonky controls, there are some enjoyable moments to be had with this game. Just don’t be surprised if you experience more frustration than fun.

[xrr rating=”2.5/5″]