The Binding of Isaac Review
The Binding of Isaac ironically had to live up to a reputation of biblical proportions; Edmund McMillen who makes up one half of indie darlings Team Meat not only had to live-up to the immense success of Super Meat Boy, but he also needed to provide a compelling gameplay that set this aside as the side-project that McMillen claimed it to be.
Filled with video game homage, religious references and what could be considered a return to classic dungeon crawlers, just how good is The Binding of Isaac?
Check out our video review or keep reading
What The Binding of Isaac Got Right
Classic gameplay - The Binding of Isaac is a return to classic dungeon crawlers that we used to see on the NES, and even the older Atari consoles. Players are presented with a top-down perspective as they move through rooms, clearing them of enemies and collecting items. It's a great throwback to older games, yet feels modern and exciting thanks to McMillen's flair.
Retro love affair - From the second you land in the basement you'll see The Binding of Issac as a retro love affair. Everything from the gameplay to the interface screams The Legend of Zelda, right down to your LIFE bar in the top right corner. You'll run into a mini-boss that sets you in a Bomberman esque room, with the boss himself looking like a character from that franchise. As you move through and discover items and areas you'll notice a number of classic gaming references, and for retro gamers out there it's more than a pleasant surprise.
Items, items, items - The Binding Of Isaac is filled with a huge bunch of collectible items and bonus weapons to help you on your quest. The video game references are still flowing thick when it comes to items - when picking up pills a message comes across the screen saying "Pills Here" which is a nice shout-out to Left 4 Dead players. You'll find all amounts of amusing and quite frankly, weird weapons including a crown of thorns that turn your tears to blood, lemon mishap that causes a yellow substance to pool on the ground, and Mom's pad, which is exactly what you think it is. Weird, wacky and wonderful.
Endless replayability - Dungeons are randomly generated, and thanks to the massive amount of enemies, over 10 bosses and a bunch of collectibles, you can play The Binding of Issac over and over again. The game is quite short which means you can play in a nice, controlled burst which is a great touch.
What The Binding of Isaac Got Wrong
Too short - The Binding of Issac can be completed in one sitting while waiting for the bus which is part of the appeal, but because the game is so addictive we want more. It would have been nice to have two or three different "chapters" to prolong the experience, and put Isaac into some new areas.
Controls - Firing your tears can be a little hit and miss without the ability to fire in a diagonal direction, which can cause some serious tension in the later areas. The game is screaming for gamepad support, but as it stands right now keyboard is the only control method offered.
The Final Verdict
The Binding of Isaac has the same signature elements as Team Meat's indie hit, but provides a very different experience that is addictive, fun and just a little disturbing. The ability to play in short amounts of time, and to have a continually surprising experience thanks to the randomly generated dungeons will keep users playing for quite some time. If you want a challenging look at how games used to be, then you simply cannot beat The Binding of Isaac.
By Stephen Heller
The Binding of Isaac
Published Edmund McMillen
Windows PC, Mac OS X
Similar To The Legend of Zelda
MMGN game reviews are rated out of 5 stars