Indie Spotlight: Binding of Isaac

Happy New Years everyone! This article has been a long time coming as the indie devs Edmund MicMillen and Florian Himsl created one of the biggest hits in indie gaming back in 2011. For those that don’t know, Binding of Isaac is a twinstick shooter roguelite adventure game heavily inspired by the classic Zelda games. The story is based off of the biblical tale of Isaac and Abraham in which Abraham is asked by the voice of God to sacrifice his son Isaac to prove his devotion, except takes place in modern times in which Isaac’s mother believes that a voice from above has asked her to sacrifice him. To escape from his abusive mother’s wrath, Isaac plunges into the depths of a previously undiscovered trapdoor in his room leading into a deep basement and must continue to delve deeper hoping to find salvation. Many of the items, bosses, and playable characters are all based off of other biblical stories mostly from the Old Testament, though they are mainly namedrop references and won’t go too far into teaching any meaning behind them.

The gameplay is simplistic at first but gains some complexity the more you play. Throughout the game you’ll explore from one room to another discovering what treasures you can find in keys, money, bombs, health, trinkets, consumables, and items. Each floor has a treasure room behind a locked door that gives you one free item and a shop behind another locked door offering a random set of items and consumables available for money. Each floor will also contain a boss room in which you face a random boss encounter that will grant you another item and a trapdoor to the next floor. Eventually if you’ve played well and gotten a good build of items you’ll reach the final floor where you face off against mom herself (personified as a giant foot smashing around the room.)

Image taken from the Steam Store

After each playthrough whether you win or lose, depending on what you did you may achieve one or more achievements (in the beginning expect to get a lot of them.) These achievements will unlock more things on subsequent playthroughs such as more floors, more items, more enemies, more bosses, more playable characters, and more endings. The ultimate goal of the game is to complete every achievement and earn every ending, though this will take many many playthroughs to get. Over time you’ll learn strategies on how to get the most out of each playthrough and how to best manage your resources through the game, and if you’re really good and really lucky, you’ll be able to take on the true final boss of Delirium (until the devs make a new DLC/game version that creates a new final boss.)

Image taken from the Wiki site

The process is very addicting and you might feel urged to keep starting playthough after playthrough of this game hoping to get further each time. The main drawback for a lot of people in this game is that it can be egregiously vulgar and gross in dealing with themes that use blood, gore, urine, feces, and even fetuses for items, animations, and background, as well as an incredibly dark story that features decay, asphyxiation, and suffocation. Because of this, I don’t recommend this game unless you feel ready to take on some very gross and dark themes. If you feel up to it though, the most recent version of the game is known as Binding of Issac: Rebirth and can be purchased here through Humble Bundle where a portion of proceeds goes to charity and another portion helps support me. And if you want to take it a step further, you can buy both DLCs available for the Rebirth version known as Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ which will add on even more content into the game. Until next time everyone!

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