When was the last time you played a game that blew you away with craziness? It’s been a while? The Binding of Isaac is easily one of the craziest games that I’ve played with some of the most simple yet incredible gameplay I’ve seen. I’m not going to hide how much I like this game before getting into the body of the review because it’s that damn good!
The Binding of Isaac is a 2D platformer that features ‘The Legend of Zelda’ inspired dungeon crawling gameplay. The game has some religious tones while remaining somewhat politically correct despite the very dark storyline of Isaac and his mother. The story is a callback to the Biblical story of Abraham binding Isaac for sacrifice. Packed in with tons of video game references (especially Valve titles) this game was created for older gamers. Those who are reading this might want to start your download on Steam as I break down why you need this game.
Keep it Together - Collecting items while trying to get achievements for playing the basement or dungeon levels perfectly helped expand the gameplay beyond my original expectations, making this simple game a longer and more fulfilling experience that could be consumed multiple or even dozens of times.
Incredible Intelligence - The game has some great artificial intelligence. Most game developers go back thinking with classic 2D-style games to give just simple and extremely difficult AI but developers Edumund McMillen & Florian Himsl slowly increase the AI difficulty with each level and each new enemy revealed.
Evolving the Levels - Each level of the dungeons gets progressively more dynamic and difficult as you play. Most games simply take big jumps in difficulty every few levels which doesn’t make the experience smooth and instead shows how lazy the game designers were. With a natural evolution of new enemies and more difficult AI, the game seemed to be progressing at the right pace that most gamers would be seeking.
And Again? - The Binding of Isaac is not for the average gamer as this game will beat you up over and over and over until you finally beat the title after maybe a dozen or so attempts through all the basements and dungeons. With limited items and weaponry, this might be a case of ‘the difficulty being so high’ that it’ll affect the opinion of the game. All I’m saying, is an ‘Easy’ mode would have done the game better justice and given the game a longer lifespan.
Wrong Platform - This game has terrible controls for a keyboard interface and deserves to be on a platform with better controls. Replying to a question asked by one of their fans recently, the creator of the game Edumund McMillen, revealed that Sony really wants to get the Binding of Isaac. Sony also has the perfect platform for the title: the Playstation Vita. The game offers up an average of 20 to 30 minutes for each playthrough which is about the average amount of time that gamers would most likely be using their Vita if they were on the go. With dual-analog sticks and a large high resolution disiplay, this game was meant for the Vita and would do very well on that platform.
Looking at everything together, the Binding of Isaac combines a gameplay experience that isn’t repeated many times while keeping to the same basic layout of certain rooms, creating a game that is still played by a large majority of the indie scene even though this game was released in September of last year.
The Binding of Isaac is definitely the top of the 'craziest' games I've ever played. Being a mashup of video game references while saluting one of the best platforming franchises of all time, it does a perfect job of balancing all the nods while giving an interesting gameplay experience that never seems to never get old. While the game is not for a mass audience, hardcore indie fans will fall head over heels for this title. For only five bucks, anyone that uses Steam for indie games should check it out if you haven’t already.
- Drew Bergmark