Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Binding Of Isaac (PC)

Possibly one of the creepiest creations of Edmund McMillen (creator of Meat Boy), The Binding Of Isaac takes a different perspective on the religious story of the same name.  This game sports the same artistic styling as McMillen's previous game; however, the game is complemented with a much more atmospheric sound track unlike Meat Boy's driving more aggressive background music (the music was written by the same person as well, Danny Baronowsky).  The genre of the game has changed as well, it is a dungeon crawler.  It seems that McMillen is setting a trend in his games other than his increasingly familiar artwork, this game is easy to play, but incredibly frustrating to master.


You play as a young boy named Isaac.  Your christian mother apparently hears the voice of god one day and by his influence decides that Isaac's life must be ended in order to please him.  In an effort to save his own life, Isaac searches the room he is locked in and finds a trap door.  He escapes through the door and begins his quest for life battling creatures like maggots, worms, doppelgangers, demons, monsters, the personified seven deadly sins, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the devil, your mom.  You battle these creatures armed with your own tears, power-ups, and items such as the rotting heads of pets, the bible, pentagrams, tarot cards, medications, the mark of the beast (666), a rock, steroids, the Necronomicon, poop, and various other religious and anti-religious symbols and marks.

Ending Spoilers

There is an epilogue and then several endings that go along with it.  The epilogue shows Isaac being cornered by his mother and about to be killed, when miraculously, the bible flies off the shelve, hits his mother, and kills her.  However, you then find out that this was all a figment of his imagination and that Isaac's mother is in the doorway of his room readying herself to kill him.  There really isn't really much to the different endings you get to see.  This game really works off of replay-ability, so beating the game unlocks items that you could use in your next play through.  Each ending, in turn, shows Isaac finding a treasure chest revealing an item or a secret character you have unlocked.

Does the game have a future?
(I am changing this topic since its a more recent game, and asking that it still holds up as is silly and not worth asking just to keep a consistent format.  In the future, when I review new games it will ask this, games of old will ask if it still holds up.)

As far as reviving the old school Zelda style of dungeon crawling, it did an amazing job and hopefully keeps the genre alive.  I am not sure if the fan base and community of this game is as vast as that of Meat Boy so we probably wont see this on PSN or XBLA.  Furthermore, its randomness will probably not really spark interest for speed running or record keeping.  I do think that games like this will keep McMillen relevant and definitely increase his brand.  Games like this show everyone that McMillen does not want to be solely known for Meat Boy and that he sort of wants to branch out as far as he can.  It also shows, that games can be really great and really cheap as well.
So long story short, I think that this game itself won't be one for the ages.  Edmund McMillen, however, this game is increasing his impact on the gaming industry and is helping to keep indie game relevant.

Other Info

The Good:  Great game play, great controls, pretty funny items, situations, and sprites.

The Bad:  This game takes a bit of getting used to.  It takes a lot to stay alive when you first pick up the game especially since there is only one life (unless you stumble upon certain items).  Memorizing what each item and power-up does is a must and quite a burden since there are so many.

Today's Going Rate:  Full price on Steam is $5.00.

Difficulty:  I found the game very hard.  I can safely say that when I beat the game it was situation (I had items that dealt massive damage to the last boss).  The counter says that I played the game 52 times, only killed the last boss twice, and only found 97 items (out of like 130, getting items is completely random so its really unlikely to play the same game twice).

Time invested in beating the game:  I think the first time I beat the "final" boss (the one that counts as a mom kill, I have yet to even see the hidden stage) I had like 35 deaths under my belt.  I think it probably took me like 5 hours maybe less to beat it for the first time.

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