BinaryGrab is an Asteroids clone mashed up with a hacking game by Pirate Games.

On the surface this is just a nicely presented asteroids clone. You boot up your OS and are given a Terminal interface to log in. Once logged in you can start your job at the data mining company, Binary Grab. To mine data, you shoot asteroids with your ship, the asteroids drop data and you deposit the data at the data bank. All the time your shift time is ticking down. You have to get 3000 bits of data before your shift ends or you will be terminated (from your job, that is).

When first playing, it’s best not to worry about your shift time and just to explore your interface. You can read the manual, read about the company or play some music (at a reasonable volume, of course). There’s also a few hints at deeper gameplay elements, with an admin console (that doesn’t work, as you’re not an admin) and some networking options.

At some point you’ll start playing the main game, which is Asteroids, and its pretty nice. It gets pretty hectic after a while as the amount of asteroids is ever increasing. Once you collect and desposited enough data, you get a message from your employer telling you’ve passed your first day (helpful tip: hold the down key to brake sharply). You also get a message from one of your coworkers. He tells you he might have found an exploit.

Each day passes and the data mining gets more hectic. The asteroids is surprisingly pretty fun though, and you’re incentivised to continue by getting a new message from your coworker each day dropping hints on things. There’s new things added to the playing field with each passing day, on day two mines start spawning. On day three, enemy probes and ships start coming after you. Day four is when things get really crazy – bullets from cannons start exploding into several more bullet, enemy ships are after you and asteroids are everywhere. It keeps the gameplay really fresh, tense and high pressure. Keep in mind your boss is always on your back, you’ve only got 3 minutes to collect 3000 bits of data each day.

Asteroids

If you actually manage to finish your temp position by beating the fifth day, you get offered a permenant position. This is a free play mode where you can do what you want. At this point it becomes much easier to start messing around finding the exploits your coworker was talking about. This is actually around 50% of the game, the first half is getting good at the Asteroids data mining game and the second half is hacking the system and working out how to get the endgame.

Console to begin hacking

The exploit is actually quite well hidden, there’s three pieces to this puzzle and your coworker only gives you two, so it’s intended that you just stumble across the third condition whilst messing around. Once you start the hacking, it’s actually an equally high pressure environment as the asteroids. Your employer does not want you to hack the system, so you have to be really quick on your feet to actually beat the game. Fortunately once on a permenant contract, your employer seems to no longer be so bothered how much data you mine.

BinaryGrab is currently available in early access for £2 with a free demo and a chance to win a free copy of the full game if you get a high enough score.
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