WARNING. THIS ARTICLE WILL SPOIL NEARLY EVERY PIECE OF CONTENT FOR THE BINDING OF ISSAC: AFTERBIRTH +. IF YOU WANT THINGS TO REMAIN A MYSTERY, THEN PLEASE BACK OUT.
After being teased on and off for the better part of a year, the much-anticipated expansion to the base “The Binding of Issac: Rebirth”; with the successful and expansive launch of the original Afterbirth, and the general positive response garnered from it’s release, there wasn’t any way that Nicalis, with them bringing Mod Tools, more content, characters, items and more, could possibly go wrong…
Well, surprisingly, there was a hell of a lot wrong with the release of Afterbirth +. So much so that, in my eyes, it kind of…Ruined the release. First of all, the DLC was numerous hours late from releasing due to ‘Technical Issues’, which should’ve been squashed already in a year-long development cycle for a DLC like this – Admittedly Afterbirth wasn’t completely safe at launch either, with it having a slight delay in release, but this was just…Sloppy.
However, when it did finally release, what was I welcomed with? My game not opening, Afterbirth + being registered as malicious by my antivirus, Steam not recognizing it as a DLC, and, the cherry on the cake, my original Afterbirth saves not being recognized by Afterbirth +. Brilliant. So after around an hour of scrounging around the Binding of Issac subreddit for fixes, clearing my Steam cache, installing…Reinstalling…What did I get?
Well, Afterbirth + prides itself on the wealth of new content that it brings to the table – One new ‘Chapter’ to the end of the game, new bosses, enemies, trinkets, items, synergies and more…But, in comparison to Afterbirth, this content seriously falters. Allow me to explain; Afterbirth, whilst admittedly being a larger DLC, had alternative floors for the Basement, Caves, Depths and Womb areas, 10 new bosses (Including two new Superbosses, Hush and Ultra Greed), a new gameplay mode, new challenges and more…And Afterbirth +, in comparison, had one new floor (The Void), no alternative floors, and 5 new bosses (2 of which are Superbosses, Delerium and Ultra Greedier (Ultra Greed’s Second Form)). The content doesn’t only fall short there either, as many items contained within Afterbirth + are simply just ‘alternative versions’ of existing items (Moldy Bread = Any HP Up item, Apple = Knuckle Dusters, Finger = Mom’s Knife, Glaucoma = Iron Ingot…); when analyzing the item list and looking at it piece by piece, it is worrying how many items are just existing duplicates.
Another new addition to The Binding of Issac is the ‘new’ Greedier mode…Which is…Greed Mode set to Hard. Really?! Greed Mode by itself was already relatively hard to start off, but with Greedier Mode, it’s now harder than ever to get every Post-it Stamp on a character. The way that this mode is harder is through harder enemy spawns (Double Champion Rag Man as a regular boss spawn, Portals that spawn enemies endlessly, etc), reduced earnings of cash, and a faster, shorter time limit on rounds. For reference, I decided to give this a shot with Issac as my main character, and went with a default run…I got 9 Inch Nails and the Halo, not bad eh? A good start?
…I couldn’t even last 20 seconds.
This facination with ‘Hard = Fun’ is something that lasts all the way throughout Afterbirth +, with Greedier Mode, the new Portals, and each new boss just being harder versions of existing bosses with huge HP pools (Bloody Vis Sisters…!!!)…However, the one thing that sums up Afterbirth + is this guy:
Delerium. The supposed “Final Boss” of ALL of The Binding of Issac – This guy doesn’t have a defined form, but instead changes forms to become random bosses with suped up attacks. That’s it. A boss rush as the main antagonist. At launch he didn’t even have any animations! The fact that this blob is the final boss, let alone a superboss, of a 1-year old DLC baffles me, and shows another example of community hype VS reality.
A mixture of bad design choices, minimal testing, persistent and worrying issues, and a disappointing conclusion and lack of content is what has put an end to The Binding of Issac – What was a swan song to the Rougelike genre has now instead fizzled out, not with a glorious finale, but instead with a disappointing, flat note.
I would rate The Binding of Issac Afterbirth + a 6 / 10. If it’s on sale, then by all means pick this up, but for the asking price of £10 for new adopters, it certainly isn’t worth the price, and is something I’d see Maxis or EA employing. Not Nicalis. Here’s hoping that Mod Tools can save us.