This post discusses some pretty controversial subject matter. You have been warned!
The Binding of Isaac+the various expansions Creators: Edmund McMillen, Nicalis, Tyrone Rodriguez, Florian Himsl (Only for the initial Flash versions) Music: Danny Baranowsky (For the Flash game) Matthias Bossi and Jon Evans (For Rebirth and Afterbirth), Mudeth (For Antibirth) Release Dates: Vanilla Isaac (September 28, 2011) Wrath of the Lamb (May 28, 2012) Rebirth (November 4, 2014) Afterbirth (October 30, 2015) Antibirth (December 23, 2016) Afterbirth+ (March 17, 2017) Genres: Roguelike, dungeon crawler Platforms: PC, 3DS, Switch, Xbox One, PS4, IOS, Wii U, Linux, PS Vita, Mac OS ESRB Rating: M for Blood and gore, Violence, and Crude humor
This is one of my absolute favorite video games, and I have been following it since its Newgrounds demo in 2011. I was always a fan of McMillen’s work, and this project was no exception. It was originally made in Flash, but the speed of the engine was quite slow, and the frame rate often glitched up. During Rebirth, the product was completely remodeled, and the game moved at a much faster rate. A year later, a new expansion called Afterbirth was created. During the wait for the latest expansion, the community made an exceptional add on known as Antibirth. The last expansion made was Afterbirth +, and this allowed people to mod the game by creating new items, characters, bosses, and floors. The game tells the story of Issac, a bald child that lives with his extremely religious mother. One day, Issac’s mother hears the voice of God, which tells her to sacrifice her son. Upon hearing this, Issac rushes to his room and quickly locks the door. He then finds a trapdoor hidden under his rug, and the game begins. You travel through various worlds, fighting monsters, collecting items, defeating bosses, and eventually facing your own mother. In the PC version, Isaac moves around with the WASD keys, and fires tears with the arrow keys. These tears are Isaac’s main form of attack, and can be changed around with the astronomical number of items in the game. You always start the run in the Basement or Cellar, which is comprised of two floors. You also have a money counter, bomb counter, and key counter, which max out at 99. Upon pausing the game, can see your stats, which are divided into health, damage, tear rate, range, shot speed, speed, and luck. Each of the 14 characters have different stats, and these either make the game harder or easier. The floors contain various enemies, secret rooms, libraries, bedrooms, I Am Error rooms, sacrifice rooms, boss battles, item rooms, shops, arcades, and devil or angel rooms depending on your game style. You start at zero percent of both angel and devil, and depending on what you pick up, increasing or decreases it. You boost the devil chances by literally selling your hearts for power, collecting satanic items, like a pentagram, going into curse rooms, and blowing up beggars. Angel deals are more defensive in nature, however some of the best items appear here. While they’re rarer than devil deals, they can be picked up without any life cost. The items can be categorized into two different categories, Active and Passive. Active items take up a spot above your character, and can be used at different times depending on the recharge time. Passive items are permanent increasing or decreasing items, which can grant Isaac new tears and cosmetic changes. Some of these items can be extremely unsettling, like Proptosis, which causes Isaac’s eyes to bulge and fire large, rapidly shrinking tears. Trinkets, Runes, Tarot Cards, Playing Cards, and Pills also play a major role in the game. These are all, with an exception of trinkets, single use items that have a variety of useful and horrific effects. The trinkets are collectables that contain passive bonuses, and you can usually only have one of these at a time. The main appeal of Isaac, is that every run is randomized, which can lead to incredible game-breaking item synergies and completely different playing styles. I have had many amazing and chaotic runs due to this feature, and it is always exhilarating to see what the RNG has out for you. Now, the game does have permadeath, which means if you die, you can’t continue the run. The game has a steep difficulty curve, especially with some of the characters. (This means “you” The Lost!) However, if you can look past this, you will find out why I love it so much. I also can’t go on without discussing the soundtrack. The original game’s music was composed by the amazing Danny Baranowsky, who also did music for Super Meat Boy. The pieces are extremely well written, and invoke a multitude of emotions for the different parts of the game. Bossi and Evans composed the Rebirth and Afterbirth soundtracks, which are also fantastic. Then, we get to Mudeth’s Antibirth soundtrack, and my god, this is 100% ear candy. From the super catchy basement theme, to the dark and theremin-heavy womb theme, this is my all time favorite music in Issac. I highly recommend this game to Roguelike enthusiasts, and fans of the first Legend of Zelda, but be warned, many of the items and subject matter is very disturbing and sacrilegious. If you can look past this, you’re in for a hell of a good time!
Final Rating: 10/10 (Absolutely Incredible!)
Here’s a link to the womb theme, it’s fantastic!