The Binding of Isaac (Series) Review
Posted: 2 weeks ago, last updated 12 days ago.
You play as Isaac, a young boy who finds himself in a story similar to the biblical story of the same name as the game, where Isaac is nearly sacrificed because of a command from God. You escape your potential sacrifice into a labyrinthine basement where your battle begins. It's intentionally hard and you will die often. You only have one life but when your run is over you simply try again. Each time you do the game changes the layout, enemies and boss locations to keep things interesting.
As you traverse the rooms you encounter a huge number of different enemies and use wildly varied and often absurd weapons to defeat them. One stick controls your direction while the other determines which way you are shooting. It's a simple scheme that requires considerable skill to master. Other items you collect can help you upgrade your stats, while keys and coins can be exchanged for valuable goods. You can also unlock 14 other characters to play as.
Although the Binding of Isaac looks simple, it's a considerable challenge. Combine this with its unique branching story, deep themes and different endings and you have an unusual game. It's an unconventional (and often bizarre) way to tell a story about mental health, abuse, grief and obedience, but is effective and sharing the sense of vulnerability young Isaac experiences.
Players: You can play with 4 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online. In The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, you can play with 3 friends locally, where 3 team members play phantoms and can interact with certain aspects of the game but cannot pick up items, adding a new challenge to the game.
The Binding Of Isaac: Afterbirth+
The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience. The original game features an extra content pack called "The Wrath of the Lamb" which continues the story and features new bosses, items, rooms and other new features such as trinkets and challenges. There is also a free piece of content available: Eternal edition, which adds a few new bosses and items.
The second game, Rebirth, features 3 premium pieces of add-on content: Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ continue the story and as add new items. The final one, Repentance, concludes the story and adds even more content. To have the later extra content you'll need to have purchased the previous pieces, so for Repentance, you'll need Afterbirth and Afterbirth+, and for Afterbirth+ you need Afterbirth. Because of the way they continue the story, they are, in a way, an essential part of the game.
Rated PEGI 16 for frequent, Moderate Violence and use of Illegal Drugs. Representative blood effects are visible, but the illustrative style is somewhat unrealistic and indistinguishable as 'real' people. Isaac employs a blob-like weapon and bombs to destroy his enemies and gains power ups and extra lives as he progresses through a series of rooms. The game also depicts the main character using a syringe containing 'Speed Ball' in order to increase his speed and rate of fire. 'Speed Ball' is a known illegal drug in the UK containing a mixture of cocaine and heroin/morphine.
Rated ESRB MATURE 17+ for Blood and Gore, Crude Humour and Violence.
Although overall progress, such as unlocks and endings, are saved, you can't save your progress on a run, but as each run is relatively short, due to the single life of your character, you'll never lose much progress.
All the story is voiced, and during cutscenes, written text is only ever used for comedic effect, but during gameplay you'll need to read a few basic game controls. Some parts of the games, in particular the cutscenes feature purposefully jittery animation of black on white. Although the text is large, some of it is of a similar, slightly darker, colour to the background which may make it difficult for some to read. The game does not feature subtitles.
The map is a small overlay on the top right corner of the screen, which you can adjust the opacity of, and only shows which room you are in and the rooms next to where you are, making it clear where you can, can't yet go and need to go but not much besides. While game elements are generally large, many of the colours are similar and quite dark. The background is static, as the whole room is visible all the time, but it gradually gets bloodier, although not to a point where it's overwhelming.
The standard control scheme uses only the keyboard, but you can fully remap the controls to whatever suits you best. There is also full native controller support, again where you can remap buttons fully. To drop an item you will need to hold down on a button.
Our The Binding of Isaac Accessibilty Review details 24 accessibility features:
DifficultyDifficulty Options: Select Difficulty
Adjust After Setting: Adjustable Between Levels
Cognitive Pressure: Save Anytime
Assistance: View Control Mapping
ReadingReading Level: Simple Minimal Reading
Text Visibility: Large Clear Text
Voiced: All Dialogue is Voiced
NavigationClarity: Large Clear Navigation
Head-Up Display: Game Map
ControlsGamepad: Multiple Buttons & Two Sticks
Mouse And Keyboard: Keyboard Alone
Mouse And Keyboard: Mouse and Keys
Motion: Motion Controls Not Required
Remap Controls: Remap Buttons
Remap Controls: Remap Sticks
Remap Controls: Remap Mouse and Keyboard
Remap Controls: Remap One Action to Multiple Buttons
Button Combinations: No Simultaneous Buttons
ImageVisibility: Large Game Elements
Visual Distractions: No Busy Backgrounds
Motion sickness friendly: Motion sickness friendly
Colour Options: Colourblind friendly
AudioAdjustable Audio: Balance Audio Levels
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