(Warning This contains MASSIVE spoilers)
This horribly dark and disturbing game, that begins with a frightened, naked child sent into a dark evil dungeon to fight the denizens of heaven and hell itself, just got another expansion: further sickening the narrative of this theologically foul game. Where do we even begin with this regressive concept?
You are placed in the role of an isolated, abused child by the name of Isaac: who must traverse a deep dungeon in order to find some form of spiritual salvation through randomly-generated paths of “salvation”. All of which end up being truly horrific paths: often ending in the poor innocent child’s death. But one of the most horrific things inside of it, which left me literally shaking, was that in this game its’ creators unmasked poor Isaac as transgender against his will! By having his penis fall off in the middle of a cutscene, they expose the poor questioning youth: Isaac becoming so distraught and traumatized that he is visibly shaken (similar, but different from literally shaking).
If you can get past this terrible phobic place the creators have chosen to take the series towards, you can make your way to a point where you still have to do some of the most horrific things: such as killing your mother, who identifies strongly with her religious cultural background, as she attempts to also kill you. Eventually you will find yourself taking on such foul beings, like Satan himself, leading to your ultimate discovery if you can find your way to the Delirium: which is deep beneath a battle with the fearsome Hush. That discovery being, of course, Isaac has been dead this entire time.
That’s right, folks: the creators of this game killed a emotionally-vulnerable trans character and made him repeatedly suffer through torrent after torrent of horrific, symbolism-riddled monsters trying to kill him for all eternity. Isaac’s purgatory of suffering continues without end: the video game mechanics of dying and reloading literally representing this. You are perpetually playing through the torture of an innocent and his own hell!
Game’s Score -666/10 (Not a real score)
Symbolic or Literal? Nightmare fuel either way.
My real thoughts:
I would describe the Binding of Isaac series, as a whole, nearly “perfect” as a video game could be. It is a randomly generated action RPG shooter with heavy rogue-like elements that shares play style similarities to the original Legend Of Zelda for the NES. Each play session with the game with a full playthrough lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour depending on what happens to you along the way and what upgrades to your character you manage to procure.
Part of what makes it a near perfect game is the randomness: like most board games where no two sessions will be alike, unless some weird things end up happening, it is very unlikely for you to play the same game session as anyone on Earth. Unless of course, you would like to play the same game: by using a “seed” which allows you to play through an identically rolled run as someone else has gone through. This allows you to challenge runs other people could not beat, or allows you to play a seed in a different way as someone else before you to see if you can manage a different outcome.
In The Binding Of Isaac Afterbrith+ significant additions and changes have been made: one of which being the addition a new character who has a unique starting item called “Void”. This item absorbs other items and allows it to take on the property of any active item in the game or give you a random stat increase, at the risk of a range decrease if you use it to absorb a passive item. This item ends up allowing for exceptionally interesting activated item combos that can end up making your character practically invincible.
Additionally a new floor was added to the game, as well as an alternate ending: which gives you an even more tragic look into Isaac’s life. This new floor, called The Void, comprises of multiple bosses with random boss drops and is a random compilation of rooms from every floor in the game. As for what the ending depicts, well, let’s just say I feel bad for poor little Isaac and what he has been through.
On top of this new items, trinkets, and enemies have been added to the game: making sure each run is even more different than the last. Throw in a few challenges and an additional Greedier Mode, you have yourself the making of a grand ol’ time.
Also added to this is a victory lap option: which allows you to restart the game from the first floor with nearly all of the items you have collected so far, including transformations. To do this, all you need to do is go down the Dark Room path and defeat The Lamb.
What items you keep or lose after each lap is something I am having difficulty figuring out. By my third run I had turned into The Lost and had lost both my steam sales but kept a large portion of my other stats, yet also lost nearly 50 points in my damage stat and my D6. I also seemed to lose some of my followers, including Super Bum which I had gained in the previous lap. So enjoy victory lap as your own peril (It’s actually a lot of fun!).
This game could never pass the ratings board if it were rendered with any hint of photo-realism.
Now there were, and to some extent still are, some issues with this game. Greedier Mode at launch was horrifically difficult: requiring a near perfect set up of early items in order to even have a chance at beating it. This has been improved since release, so it doesn’t require quite as much luck to even have a chance. Some of the broken combos available with the “Void” item including what could be done with the items “Pandora’s Box” and “Diplopia” were removed: allowing one-time use Activated Items to only be used once in the room you found them in with Void. While this is an understandable change, it does kind of remove some of the entertainment value the game has to offer.
Finally: it seems as though the modding tools that have been added to the game have more of a purpose then just tuning the game to your liking. It appears the creators will be curating mods they see created for their game and adding the best mods they find to the game as a permanent addition monthly. How long will they continue to do this? Well, time will tell, but it is nice to see that we will be getting more content for this game on the regular.
If you are a fan of The Binding Of Isaac franchise, I definitely recommend this for you, as it is just more of what you already love. If the sound of a very difficult game, that is random with every playthrough, and will kick you while you are on the ground at the worst of times doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in: you’re probably better off skipping it.