The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirt h
Cry ’ til you laugh in this roguelike of Biblical proportions
Yes, it’s taken its time getting here, but this roguelike from Super Meat Boy creator Edmund McMillen is finally on Xbox One and it’s hellishly glorious. You don’t know it yet, but your new favourite game might just be chock full of faeces, nightmarish Christian imagery and screaming monstrosities. But, yeah, mostly faeces. And death. All the death.
Poor Isaac is the unfortunate son of a God-fearing Christian single mother who has apparently been instructed by the heavenly father to kill her only child. (We told you he was unfortunate.) Thus, you must steer him through his basement, taking on the monsters that dwell there with the only weapon Isaac has: his tears. This is a twin- stick shooter like you’ve never seen it before. Throw in three starter hearts of health, randomised trinkets placed throughout the dungeon and a slew of monsters that deliver Silent Hill-like horrors in a Chibi style, and The Binding of Isaac is disturbingly unique.
The setup is simple. Isaac enters a procedurally generated room, murders the nasties within – be they scuttling spiders, blood-spewing skeletons or one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse – and the door opens to let you proceed to the next. Lose all of your shiny red hearts and it’s all the way back to the beginning for you. Permadeath is swift and, while initially frustrating, delivers an almost euphoric sense of achievement when you take on your own personal nemesis and win.
Initially, the game has five floors of rooms – each has its own prize room, with a unique item, and an end boss that rewards you a shiny power-up. It’s these items that make or break your run, and mean you’ll never have the same game twice. Perhaps you’ll find Fire Mind to give you flaming tears, or maybe a hypodermic of hormones that’ll up your speed and damage, or even Pay To Play that’ll let you spend coins to harm enemies. The item list is deliciously long, with each new find layering on top of the others like a stat-boosting cake of grimness. Got poison tears and pick up the Inner Eye? That’ll be three nasty projectiles instead of one. But be warned; while some items work in perfect synergy, others can turn a good run sour in the seconds it would have taken to look them up on the game’s essential wiki.
Tears for fears
Yet it’s this very risk that makes each playthrough unique. The juggling of keys to get through locked doors, spending coins in shops, collecting bombs to blow up rocks or access stone chests. It all adds up to make each floor a puzzle – and ruthlessly