The Bind­ing Of Isaac: Re­birt h

Cry ’ til you laugh in this roguelike of Bib­li­cal pro­por­tions

XBox: The Official Magazine - - REVIEW -

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

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