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Have you heard of Sisyphus? I bet you have. He’s the lad from Greek mythology who twice cheated death, so Zeus, king of the gods and occasional horny swan, cursed him to repeatedly roll a big rock up a hill for all eternity. Every time he reached the top, down the rock would roll back down and Sisyphus would start again. Which is bad. But what if, let’s suppose, Sisyphus secretly loved rolling rocks? What if rolling rocks up hills, however repetitive, was as fun as shooting robots in Binary Domain? What then, Zeus? 

It’s perhaps not a question that’s troubled classical scholars, but it’s relevant here. Because my memory of Binary Domain is vague and hallucinatory, like something from a Michel Gondry music video. I recall a game that scored 70%, lost 5 points for repetition and another 10 for shitty boss battles, then clawed 20 back in hindsight for being a laughable cult classic. But I remembered it wrongly. Actually, the rock-rolling element of Binary Domain is simply magnificent. If Zeus cursed me to shoot olive robots in neo-Tokyo for the rest of time, only for a fresh dropship of enemies to arrive at the end of every level, I’d pretend to be sad so he didn’t find a more upsetting punishment. 

(Image credit: Sega)

The base game of Binary Domain is deeply satisfying—a burly, competent cover shooter with an infectious central gameplay loop. It’s wonderful seeing glittering shards of scrap metal going flying off your robot foes. Most standard enemies are the right kind of slow and stupid, just agile enough to make you feel good about yourself when you explode their shiny metal heads. It makes me realise the only thing wrong with Binary Domain is that it tries to do too much, fussing and fluffing like an anxious vicar about to meet the head of the Women’s Institute. But instead of offering an unnecessary proliferation of iced buns, Binary Domain insists on execrable boss battles and broken squad comms.

Turrets syndrome 

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