Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Binding of Isaac

The Binding Of Isaac is a game I have been playing a lot recently.  Picture running through the dungeons of Legend of Zelda, with one constant item and one item you can switch around and you have the basic setup of the game.  You start off by selecting a character which controls your starting stats and items.  Then you enter the first level of the dungeon to start your quest.  Along the way you'll collect money, bombs, and keys which you can use to get into treasure rooms, shops, arcades, secret rooms and more.  At the end of every level is a boss.  What gives the game its great replay-value is that the levels are randomly generated, as are the items you'll encounter, and the bosses are randomly picked from a group of monsters who can show up in the given area.  With over 100 items you'll end up playing through the game very differently depending on what items you can get your hands on.

The controls are very simple: shift to drop a bomb, space to use an item (if you find one that needs activation) and Q to eat a pill/use a tarot card.  Killing all the monsters in a room will give you Tarot cards, bombs, keys, pills, hearts, money, and if you are really lucky a chest.  The tarot cards have mostly good effects.  Pills can add or take away from any of your stats, so be careful with them unless you have the lucky foot or the Ph.D.  Silver chests can contain any of the above pickups including another chest.  Gold chests need a key to open, but can give you an item or a heart container in addition to what a silver chest can hold.

On every floor there should be a treasure room, represented by a crown on the map.  Make sure you save a key to get in because the items are free, and a lot of good items can only be found here.  There is also a shop on every floor, but I'd only enter if you have plenty of keys and at least 15 cents.  The good items cost 15 cents unless they are on sale.  Be prepared going into the shop, because the mini-boss Greed can be waiting inside.  If he shows up, you'll be locked into a fight with him, and will not be able to buy items when you are done.

One of the dangers you can run into are the seven deadly sins.  Acting as mini-bosses they'll randomly show up in an unexplored room to ambush you.  Luckily they aren't that difficult to defeat once you know their moves.  The hardest of them is probably greed, who shoots 3 shots in a spread somewhat randomly and tends to hang out in the shop when you need to buy something the most.

You'll also find secret rooms, challenge rooms, arcades and other interesting rooms and creatures on your journey.  Although the game is simple on the surface, there is a lot going on underneath.  Take money for example.  On the surface you can spend it at the store or gamble in a slot machine.  You'll also find a beggar who you can give it to.  Low on money?  Drop a bomb on the slot machine (or the beggar) to get some money back (hopefully).  Item Synergies are another fun thing to explore as you try and find a working strategy to get past the final bosses.  There are a few items that can instantly kill some troublesome bosses.  The trick is figuring out which ones work where and finding them.

Expect to die many times while you figure out how to get past the monsters, traps, and bosses.  And expect to have a great time doing it.  As you progress further the enemies can get pretty nasty.  But hey, there is a great item that unlocks from dying 100 times, so get to it.

Once you figure out the game, completing the entire game will only take you an hour or so(Before you figure out the game, your games will be much shorter!), but it is still very enjoyable to load up again and again, finding new items every time.  I think a lot of the reason I love it is because I know one game won't be a huge time commitment.

List of items that might appear.

The game works on Steam.

Lots of built-in and steam enabled achievements.  The achievements will unlock new items, bosses, and areas, so they are actually worth getting beyond bragging rights.

Multiple characters and a ton of items you can find give a lot of replay value.  There are also a lot of different bosses to fight.(I'm over 60 hours myself and haven't unlocked the last bonus area yet.)

Small time commitment - Completing the entire game will only take an hour or so.

Entertaining references to many other video games such as Super Meat Boy, Legend of Zelda, and more.

Great Soundtrack!  I spent the extra dollar to have the soundtrack.  (You have to go to the steam game folder to find it.)

The game is very reasonably priced at $4.99 when it is not on sale.


There are a few bugs with the DLC which cause the game to slow down a bit between levels.  Nothing critical or that caused me to lose my game.

As you might be able to tell from the picture above, the game has disturbing imagery.  It didn't particularly bother me, but I could see it bothering people.

The game is done in Flash and so it doesn't quite work with the steam overlay, meaning you can't upload screenshots directly into steam.

Final Thoughts:

This game is great, and well worth buying at full price.  You can usually get it much cheaper during a steam sale and the winter sale is currently going.  The Best deal for this game right now is at the humble bundle site. Pay whatever you want for BoI and the DLC and other games!

There is a DLC available for this game and it is also great and inexpensive, however, it does make the game harder.  I'd wait until you have beaten the game a few times before adding the DLC.

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