The Binding of Isaac
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Very simple to play, but the difficulty varies greatly depending on your luck. There is reason for multiple playthroughs which, along with the random elements, give this game some longevity. It’s a good game, but definitely won’t be suited to everyone’s tastes.

Gameplay: Randomly generated dungeons, tons of enemies and loads of loot gives this a lot of replay value.

Graphics: Cute in a sick, twisted kind of way.

Sound: Nice soundtrack and disturbing effects

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

The Binding of Isaac

Developer: Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl | Publisher: Edmund McMillen | Release Date: 2011 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie / RPG | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Isaac finds himself in a spot of trouble when his mother starts hearing a voice instructing her to kill her son as a sacrifice. Instead of meekly submitting Isaac flees to the basement of the house, but finds himself trapped in a maze of horrors hat leads him further down into madness. If this all sounds a bit disturbing it might make more sense when you hear that it is the brainchild of Edmund McMillen, one of the co-creators of the equally freaky Super Meat Boy.

Religious overtones aside, The Binding Of Isaac is actually quite a retro title, not only in its design but visually as well. If you were around during the 8-bit days, you will recognize many of its ideas and design elements. Think of it as Robotron meets Rogue meets Zelda meets Bomberman meets Pac-Man and you might have an idea of what to expect. Levels are made up of a series of static rooms, which may contain either items, enemies, traps, treasure, all of the above or none of the above. Since everything is randomly generated, the replay value is quite high, especially considering the wide assortment of items. In true Zelda fashion, all the enemies in a room must be killed in order to move on to the next one. If you have bombs, you can take the easy way out and just blow up the door. Along the way, Isaac might run into a mini-boss or two before taking on the main monster, which upon its defeat will grant access to the next level. Most rooms can be cleared in under a minute and with the right collection of items it is possible to breeze through a level but don’t for one second think this game is easy.

In true old-school fashion, death can come easy in this game and it is permanent. There are no checkpoints to fall back on or saves to reload. Once you die, your options are quitting or starting over. This may come as a shock to modern players that are not used to seeing a “Game Over” screen, but it definitely makes the game way more intense. While not very long, it can still take upwards of an hour to complete all the levels. Stumbling into a room where the odds are overwhelmingly against you can really be a frustrating way to lose the game but it happens. Since it is all random you cannot blame poor level design for your demise, it is all down to luck. It is addictive enough that you will keep coming back for more however. Trust me, this is one of those “just one more go” games. There are new characters to unlock and multiple (twisted) endings to uncover but do not expect it to get any easier. The game actually becomes harder the more times you finish it and go back for more!

Visually the game looks every bit like the Indie, Flash title that it is. The top down, two-dimensional graphics consist of minimal, basic colors and the random rooms are all just patches of brown. The character and enemy designs shine, however and bear that trademark mixture of cute and gross that you expect from the artistic mind behind it. The floor of each room is usually covered in blood, urine, puke and faeces after you are done with it which is not something I think many other games an boast. Enemies consist of a grotesque collection of cute critters and you will come to know each of them intimately during your many playthroughs. Special mention should go to the twisted bosses, which really steal the show. The other cool thing about the visuals is that most items will alter the appearance of your character sprite. These visual transformations can be quite disturbing seeing as items include such gems as “moms underwear,” “growth hormones” and a wire coat hanger. The downside is that I ran into some severe slowdown, which is quite surprising for such a simple looking game. It might be because the game is programmed in Flash but hopefully it will be sorted out in future updates.
The gameplay consists of dodging enemies and obstacles in a room until you have killed them all by blinking tears (or worse) in their direction. The rate, damage and reach of your tears can all be upgraded, but you are limited to only shooting in four different directions. To make up for your inability to shoot diagonally, shots can be curved somewhat by shooting while moving but it can still be a chore hitting a few of the more erratic foes. Enemy’s either chase you down relentlessly or try to avoid you so the random room layouts can be a big help or huge hindrance depending on what you run into. None of the items or enemies ever respawn in a room so once it is cleared it will remain that way. Throughout the levels, you will find bombs and keys, which unlock doors, chests and secret rooms, but thanks to the randomness, there is no guarantee you will ever have enough. It is impossible to be stuck, but you might miss some cool items along the way. Cash can also be collected for spending at random shops, beggars and gambling machines. There is no native gamepad support (at this point) so the keyboard controls can be a bit cramp inducting if played in long bursts. Isaac also feels a bit slippery to control until you get used to his movements.

The soundtrack is good with plenty of spooky tunes that set the mood perfectly. In fact, you can purchase the 30-song collection separately if you want to listen to it outside the game. Sound effects are as disturbing as you would expect, but rather minimal. If you can put up with the hard, sometimes unfair gameplay and do not mind a game that goes out of its way to include offensive elements, you will enjoy this one. It expertly combines all the best elements from some classic genres and presents it to you at a price that cannot be beaten. In fact, after twenty hours of playing I still have not experienced everything it has to offer. The warped sense of humour might scare some folk off as will the biblical references and use of occult symbols, which is a shame as underneath it all lays a very good game.

*Review originally published November 2011.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7
  • Processor: 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Hard Disk Space: 50MB
  • Video Card: Direct X9.0c Compatible Card
  • DirectX®: DirectX® 9.0c
  • OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
  • Processor: Intel Mac 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Hard Disk Space: 50MB

Related posts

STAR WARS™ – The Force Unleashed™ Ultimate Sith Edition

STAR WARS™ - The Force Unleashed™ Ultimate Sith Edition

With so much potential and clearly a lot of work put into the audio and visuals, its hard not to be disappointed by the lackluster level designs and imprecise controls. This Ultimate Sith Edition includes all downloadable content from the console versions plus an extra level set on Hoth, but the rather large download size (30GB) and host of annoyances makes this one for the die-hard Star Wars fans only. Gameplay: Ultimately could have been so much better. Still playable, but not living up to the standards of the Jedi Knight series. Graphics: Excellent art style and some visually stunning locations. Sound: Decent voice acting and stellar audio.

MAMIYA

MAMIYA

Mamiya is a visual novel that tackles themes that are pretty dark and disturbing. It can be confusing at first due to how it mixes the ordinary with the surreal, but once players are hooked, it is hard to stop reading. The beautiful CGs and incredible soundtrack also make it easy to get drawn into the twisted depths of the story. Mamiya is not for everyone, but thanks to the lengthy free demo, it is easy to find out whether or not you can stomach its bleak and oppressive story. Gameplay: Although it is primarily a kinetic novel, there's plenty of routes and different stories. Graphics: The backgrounds are simple, but the sprites and CGs are outstanding. Sound: No voice acting, and the sound effects are nothing special, but the soundtrack is incredible.

Pharaoh Rebirth+

Pharaoh Rebirth+

Pharaoh Rebirth+ is a Metroidvania style platformer that oozes charm and playability. Even with the low resolution visuals the pixel art remains brilliant and each location is packed with detail. The story is another surprising highlight and you’ll encounter plenty of humor along with interesting twists. You really can’t go wrong with this title if you are a fan of the genre and it manages to shine despite some technical limitations. Gameplay: The game has a surprising amount of depth for a platformer and plenty of replay value as well. Graphics: The resolution is rather low, but this doesn’t diminish the brilliance of the pixel art visuals. Sound: Catchy tunes and decent sound effects.

Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a twin stick shooter where the odds are very much against you. Faced with waves of deadly enemies, your only chance for survival is to play a bit more tactical than what is expected from you in most of these types of games. Using your drone companion to manage your threat level is essential and sometimes knowing when to make a run for it is just as useful as standing your ground. With four character classes, different skill trees, a story mode and survival mode, this is the type of game that can keep you busy for ages. The lack of online co-op sucks, but nothing beats setting up two controllers and playing with a friend next to you on the couch. Gameplay: The game is intense,even on lower skill levels, and requires you to do more than just spray and pray. Graphics: Not a very colorful game, but the top down visuals packs plenty of detail. Sound: Surprisingly good voice acting even if the background music is nothing to write home about.

Kana: Little Sister

Kana: Little Sister

Don't play Kana: Little Sister if you expect a typical Hentei game and don't play it if you are not a fan of reading and drama. If you can appreciate a good story with well written characters and a lot of heart ache then I can't recommend this game enough. It's definitely one of the crowning achievements in its genre. Gameplay: It's a visual novel so the gameplay consists of lots of clicking with the occasional multiple choice question. Graphics: Nicely drawn characters but the focus is firmly on the story. Sound: Minimal sound effects, no voices but touching music.

Pinball Arcade – Tales of the Arabian Nights™

Pinball Arcade - Tales of the Arabian Nights™

Tales of the Arabian Nights might look like a complex table, but it actually has some very easy to grasp rules. Even inexperienced players should have no trouble reaching the wizard mode after putting in some practice, but there is enough variety to keep you coming back for more. This is a very sought after table in real life which makes it even more incredible that this faithful digital version is absolutely free. Gameplay: The table features a great design with easy objectives for beginners. Graphics: A faithful reproduction of a great looking table. Sound: Distinctive audio with some great speech samples and effects.

Leave a comment

one × 1 =