I know they say never to judge a book by its cover but I’m VERY guilty of it, with a game’s screenshots often determining whether or not I want to try it out. I know, I know, it’s a bad approach to take, but I love games that look really pretty, especially in virtual reality. Naturally then, I only had to take one glance of UNBINARY for it to pique my interest, with the stylish hand-crafted visuals certainly catching my eye. Is the actual puzzling any good though or is this a case of style over substance?
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
UNBINARY puts players in charge of an AI named Webby, which is currently being run through some tests in order to see if it’s efficient enough to look after the world. Yep, it’s taking on the responsibility of looking after humanity and the planet itself, because let’s be honest: we’ve hardly been doing a great job of it, have we? Of course, an AI can’t be given such a big responsibility without some testing first, so players have to make sure that Webby is up for the job.
This means working through a bunch of little puzzle-filled areas, with Webby acting as a companion to lead you along. The puzzles themselves can be tackled by equipping different masks which offer a variety of functions to the player: the purple mask allows you to hack systems, the yellow mask allows you to perform physical actions, whilst the green mask lets you interact with the robots in the environment. Players will have to utilise all different aspects of these masks in order to progress through each level, whilst there’s also the occasional target to shoot at with your laser as well as a bunch of objects in the environment to fiddle around with.
I’ve really simplified the process there, but I don’t want to give too many of UNBINARY’s puzzles away – especially since they make up the meat and bones of the experience. There’s some solid puzzle design to be found across the game though, with the varied use of the masks ensuring that each enigma remains creative all the way through to the end of the game. Whether you’re hacking terminals to open up a path, moving blocks to climb your way up a ladder, or simply tricking another robot into letting you pass, it’s always satisfying to unravel UNBINARY’s puzzles with a mixture of both clever thinking and physical prowess.
“UNBINARY should only take players around three hours to beat, but that shorter length feels perfect for the experience: it delivered enough puzzling action without anything growing old.”
That being said, it could be guilty of being a little bit too easy at times. Whilst there’s a decent amount of variety to be found across the puzzles, it was often simple enough to work out exactly what you needed to do in order to complete them. In fact, I think I only got stuck on two or three occasions when playing, with nothing in UNBINARY feeling particularly taxing once you are comfortable with your toolset.
It also has a few technical issues that do hamper the experience right now. One obvious one came with the smooth locomotion, which could be a little jerky at times and brought my movement to a halt for no apparent reason. It was a little jarring, so much so that I played with teleportation controls instead (which is something I prefer not to do if I can help it). There were a few times where my physical actions didn’t register correctly too, such as when using my hand on a terminal or trying to climb a ladder. Thankfully, it only took a bit of wiggling to get around it, but it was more finicky than it needed to be.
One of UNBINARY’s stand-out features is its visuals, which were crafted using the Quill creation tool to give the game a hand-drawn cartoony style. It looks great and gives the game plenty of character, with each locale feeling all the more interesting to explore thanks to how pretty everything looks. Whilst the game takes place in your typical lab facility, the vibrant visuals make sure that it’s one that’s packed to the brim with colour and personality.
UNBINARY should only take players around three hours to beat, but that shorter length feels perfect for the experience: it delivered enough puzzling action without anything growing old. It’s also worth noting that its narrative can get pretty deep, even IF there are a lot of comical moments along the way with Webby. But hey, what would you expect when you consider that one of the game’s themes is the flaws of humanity?
The developer has informed us that a patch has now been released that addresses some of the locomotion issues mentioned in this review and also adds smooth turning. Whilst we haven’t had the opportunity to test this patch, movement in the game should be a lot better for players now.
UNBINARY offers some fun and varied puzzling action, whilst the pretty visuals help it stand out as one of the Quest 2’s more unique looking titles. It’s just a shame that some of its technical issues do hinder the experience, whilst it’s also guilty of being a bit too easy in places. Still, as far as puzzlers go, there’s plenty to enjoy here – let’s just hope that a patch fixes some of the more obvious issues sometime soon.
Platform(s): Quest 2 (Reviewed), Quest, PCVR