The Binding of Isaac

Posted: September 5, 2013 by theelindsayclarke in Games
Tags: , , , , ,

This game is awful in all the right ways.
It seems like all I want to play is games that hate me lately… The Binding of Isaac is a simple, kind of arcade-style game, but it, like Super Meat Boy, will still take you forever to finish. How? By being evil and cruel and impossible to beat. And yet it’s a fun game. Let me explain how with my Triforce of Power.
First off is plot. Thee is one, I swear. It has something to do with you being trapped in your (Isaac’s) dreams, where everything is some dastardly disgusting form of you… and everything is trying to kill you. So you must… survive. I guess because if you die in your dreams you die for real. Except it’s actually based on a story where God tells a kid’s mom to kill the kid and you’re actually running around in your monster-filled basement to escape her. Whatever, it hardly matters. Quick, strange plot for a simple, bizarre game. The plot doesn’t matter too much, it just sets up the creepy atmosphere, which in turn gives you the need to survive.

And survival is tough. You’re just thrown into this world without much explanation other than controls and a quick back story, pretty much. It’s not very gamer-friendly, in that it’s hellish, and sometimes you’ll pick up an item that was beneficial last time and hurts you this time. Plus you’re figuring out a lot of stuff as you go. But that doesn’t make it a bad game in the gamer-friendliness category. It’s meant to be a little confusing. You’re trapped in a world where gross little zombie versions of yourself are running around, crying for your blood. It certainly works. And the controls are routine and simple, a small and wonderful help in such a scary, difficult game.

Finally, style. When you have a simple little arcade game like Binding of Isaac, style’s usually pretty important, because otherwise it won’t stand out. Do you remember that one old arcade game you used to play? The one with the guy who… did the thing? Mmm, no. but do you remember that arcade-style game you used to play, where you fought off disturbing nightmare versions of yourself that made awful noises, and you had to kill them with your own tears, and an item you could earn was your dead cat, and at some point you realise that you’re just a little boy going through all this emotional trauma, and it’s so dark and twisted and sad? Much easier to remember. The colour scheme, the drawing style, the images you see, the gameplay mechanics and the noises you hear all fit into this neat, fucked up little package. Plus every time you restart, the world resets. You’ll fight different monsters, the boss is different, the map is different and the items you get are different, which feeds the horror aspect of the game. The not-knowing. Sometimes it’ll go full-Silent Hill, and you’ll fight through these horrors with next to nothing. Sometimes you’ll get a laser that obliterates everything it touches. The randomization and the difficulty give Binding of Isaac hours of play time and replay value. I have yet to beat it, certainly. And what’s nice is, due to its simplicity, if you just have ten minutes to kill, you can play it. And because of its difficulty, if you want to play it all day, go for it. Either way works.
So if you can put up with the creepiness of The Binding of Isaac, you might as well buy it. But since it’s a Steam game, you might as well wait until it’s on sale.

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