Please Rate This Review: The Binding of Isaac(Pc)
High: The game is loot/achievement-tastic
Low: Perma-deathís a bitch. Control gets glitchy sometimes.
WTF: The overall atmosphere and aesthetic of the game pretty WTF in a dark twisted yet humorous way.
The first Edmund McMillen game that I played was a flash game released on Newgrounds.com around 2004 called Clubby the Seal. It was a 2D beat Ďem up sidescroller staring Clubby the Seal, a baby fur seal who goes on a massive killing spree with a club against wave and waves of not so innocent Land-Whales, Eskimo, and Eskimo babies; so Clubby can turn their skin into clothing, and presumably start his own human skin clothing line. But to be honest I donít remember much of the gameplay but it its juxtaposition of cutesy characters and murderous gore, as well as the black humour left quite an impression on me and my puny adolescent mind, so I always kept an eye out for his other work as most of them have a similar appeal. So the other day when I stumbled upon The Binding of Isaac in Steam, and discovered that it was made by McMillen and I decided to give it a try.
So, essentially The Binding of Isaac is a 2D top-down Zeldaesque RPG dungeon shooter; with a very clear emphasis on the generation randomised loots and dungeon space. The game plays like a standard top-down four-directional shooter, players controls Isaac through the WASD keys for basic movement and arrow keys or mouse for attacks; however the controls might feel a bit glitchy, and may take a bit getting use to. This can prove to be a bit of a frustration as the game is quite harsh with its old school punishment methods as deaths within the game will leads to perma-death, and requires the player to restart all over, with no option to disable said function; and it fairly evident that the game was clearly intended for a crowd with a bit of patience looking for a bit challenge.
The challenge factor of the game doesnít end with just the perma-death. The game offers quite a large variety of different enemies, and shuffles bosses between levels. This will force the player will have to observe enemy patterns and formulate a strategy to defeat them; and this is made harder by the random arrangements of impassable boulders in certain rooms which will give enemies a significant advantage, which will force players to make decisions rather or not to use bombs Ėlimited resource- destroy said boulder. Luck also plays a role in providing a challenge as loot are randomised, and itís always a gamble to pick up an item that you havenít seen before, or even use a power up pill you seen in pervious playthrough, as properties of pill change over playthrough. For those who seek an even further challenge the game offers a large host of content, and secret achievements for the player to unlock.
Also, I previously mentioned that I thoroughly enjoyed the overall atmosphere, and aesthetic of the McMillen previous games, this game also offers that same appeal of dark humour, and cutesy cartoony gore. However in the Binding of Isaac it feels a tad bit overboard, as the cuteness of the game seems to be unable to contain the overly dark nature of it, and can at times feel a bit distasteful. But nevertheless the somewhat repulsive tone feels right, as it greatly complements the story, which is based on the story of The Binding of Isaac from the Old Testaments. This tale of a parent attempting to kill their child as a proof of faith to god is retold in a modern setting; the plot is narrated by an eerie narrator in an opening sequence and ending sequence, explaining that the player -Isaac- is on the run for his homicidal mother. The major problem with the story the actual gameplay is that they seem to have little to no relevance to each other.
To wrap it up, is The Binding of Isaac good well yea, great no, and for the price of 5 dollars the game offers a great deal of content for that price. But still unless you the masochistic/ achievement whore type of gamer whose been complaining that the games these days are too easy youíre probably not going to be replaying it over and over, so for an average gamer it worth it if you want an unique experience that test your gaming mantles.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via Steam and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode (completed 1.5 time). There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game contains blood and gore, drug reference, violence, toilet humour. Story about mother trying to kill child, takes place in a rather twisted reality. Definitely not intended for the young
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: No subtitle in opening sequence or ending. However instructions are in text format.