Back when I first got into PC gaming, there was one game that continuously popped up on my YouTube subscription lists for what seemed to be at least a month – The Binding of Issac: Rebirth.
This lovely little indie title created by Nicalis has been floating around the internet for what seems to be the better part of 2 years, Issac comes based off of a previous release of the same game, simply titled The Binding of Issac, which had it’s own DLC expansion, Wrath of the Lamb.
Both these elements have been melded together, updated and given a fresh lick of paint within The Binding of Issac: Rebirth, and set the standard for the franchises’ future. You start off, literally naked and afraid at the bottom of a deep, dark cellar where you’ve hid from your murderous Mother, whom had been convinced by the word of God themselves to murder Issac in cold blood – Onwards, it’s a strange, bizarre, and oddly depressing, randomly generated adventure to defeat the source of Issac’s woes, his own Mother, and even the Devil himself…
TBOI (The Binding of Issac) is a procedural, randomly generated Rougelike ‘shooter’ that focuses on you picking up random powerups to enhance Issac’s ‘Tears’ (What he uses to fend off and defeat the creatures of the night) – These Tears can morph into over two hundred different forms, from spinning Scythes, to Blood Lasers, to electric ‘Technology Lasers’, to Teeth, Nails, Arrows, and much, much more…Just seeing what random, interesting and overpowered combinations that can come around from a game as random as Issac is part of the fun, with definite, tactical decisions empowering every single item you pick up – “Will this item break my synergy? Will this item make me stronger? Do I really need to be smaller? What does this do?”; these questions help to fuel Issac, and to make it far more replayable.
TBOI comes packed with up to 10 floors in each run, with the scenery constantly changing from angelic temples, to dank, wet caverns, to flaming basements, to even your own mother’s womb! Lovely! The game also comes with over 60 bosses to challenge, each also randomly generated, and countless enemies to…Uh…Cry on…? Yeah, I don’t know either. Pair this with a stellar soundtrack, beautiful pixel art, and fully animated cutscenes, and you’ve got one polished and expansive indie game.
So why am I talking to you today about The Binding of Issac? Well, it’s because Issac’s second (And last) major DLC expansion, Afterbirth + is set to be coming out in a meager 3 days, and now is the perfect time to get stuck in and start unlocking items! Afterbirth + is a direct expansion of The Binding of Issac: Rebirth’s first major expansion, Afterbirth, which introduced new alternative floors, bosses, enemies, items and more, however the one thing that makes Afterbirth + all-the-more unique is the introduction of built-in-modding tools! Now hearty fan-made expansions such as Antibirth (Which also recently released), and Godmode (Similarly sized to Afterbirth) won’t have to rely on the old Rebirth version of the game, and will instead be more easily downloaded, installed, tested and created!
Another good thing about The Binding of Issac Rebirth is the number of platforms it’s been ported onto as well; Wii U, PS4, Mac, New Nintendo 3DS, Xbox One, iOS and more! Whilst stability and performance across these platforms has been blotchy, and the lack of the much-needed Afterbirth DLC on any other platform other than PC, PS4, XBONE and Mac has been annoying, there really isn’t anything quite like doing a quick run on the train home on your 3DS, or playing with a controller on the couch.
The game, however, doesn’t come without detriments – As a rougelike, you can expect the game to kick your arse, over, and over, and over again, especially when first starting out; learning different attack patterns and clearing hectic rooms can be a pain, and can easily harm your enjoyment when you get owned by an inescapable attack in some later instances – Another issue is the lack of proper stat tracking and item explanation; whilst on PC this can be remedied by using Missing HUD 2, console and portable players are stuck up creek without a paddle, sadly. This can be annoying when you need to quit out and check exactly what an item does, only to be confused and have it ruin an amazing run.
However, once you learn more of the game, overcome the difficulty, and start to experience some of the wacky and crazy combos you can execute, I’m sure that no matter what kind of gamer you are, you’ll be hooked!
I would rate The Binding of Issac Rebirth, and it’s subsequent DLC, Afterbirth +, an 8.5 / 10.
You can check out the game here on Steam! It’s even half price at this time of writing!