The Binding of Isaac Review

Note: This is abouth the original, not the Rebirth, which I haven’t played.

This is a game that was taken down by Nintendo for having “questionable religious content”. Since Steam doesn’t have the same restrictions, it now has a new life.

The religious content? Well, remember the story where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son? That’s known as Binding of Isaac. This game has the same starting point: Isaac’s Mom is asked by God to kill Isaac. Isaac, however, escapes through a hatch and fights back through the basement.

Thusfar, I’ve played over 250 times and I’ve never played through the whole game. I haven’t even reached the final boss (which is Mom). A single game doesn’t take very long, so its a good way to fill time, if nothing else.

Its a rogue-like, or rogue-lite game with randomized content. The maps are a series of interconnected rooms, all of the same size.

The basic controls are displayed very visibly on the floor of room you start in.

The basic controls are displayed very visibly on the floor of room you start in.

Here you explore while you try to get deeper into the dungeon. You meet all sorts of monsters, mostly things Isaac has been afraid of during his short life. You also find stuff to help you, such as coins, mom’s pills, aborted fetuses, and so on. Sometimes you find these in piles of shit, literally. (And no, I don’t mean figuretively.)

The fights can be quite gruesome. Here, Isaac is fighting Steve, a pretty racist figure.

The fights can be quite gruesome. Here, Isaac is fighting Steve, a pretty racist figure.

The game opens up slowly. Achievements within the game are not only badges. They bring in new content and let you find new things and meet new enemies. Well, also unlocks characters, but the two characters I’ve unlocked thusfar both seem to be Isaac in different colored wigs playing girls.

I can see why someone with conservative outlook on life could find this game detestable. Isaac has apparently been through a lot during his life and its all there in plain view. There are those fetuses, Isaac’s dead cat, the pills, and whatnot. Also, whenever you go down a level, you get to see a painful memory of Isaac’s. Mostly they are stuff you’d expect quite a few people to have experienced, but there’s also neglect, being locked up in a chest and, of course, the quite recent falling into the basement.

This game is quite sick, but its sick in all the right ways. If all this was presented in any other medium and maybe even with different graphics, it would be horrific, but its not. Its a fun game, with a strange starting point. The starting point was what drew me in, the gameplay is what keeps me coming back. Its nothing special, but just conceptually different enough to be interesting.

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