Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Run, Isaac, Run! - The Binding of Isaac Review

'What's this?!' I hear you say? 'Alun Owen, a Triple-A reviewer, reviewing an indie game? What the Hell is happening?!'. Hey, just give me a chance okay? I may not be as talented as my co-worker, but my dear fans (if I have any), just hold on. Anyway, rant over, let's get on with the game. The Binding of Isaac is a game created by the brains behind Super Meat Boy, Edward McMillen (Team Meat). The game is a mix of different genres, borrowing the classic top down view of The Legend of Zelda and randomization of games like Dungeons and Dredmor. Although The Binding of Isaac is a lighthearted game, it does bring in a dark and twisted atmosphere, and it will make any player want to come back for more and explore the cavernous depths of the game. Christians, I do not recommend this game (WARNING: Blasphemy.) (Alun Owen, apprentice Indie Game Reviewer) 

The Binding of Isaac mirrors the classic Biblical story of the same name. The game starts with a sweet story of Isaac and his Mum, or as the Americans call it, Mom. They both live in a house, on a hill. How cute is that, surely nothing can go wrong? Unfortunately, Isaac's Mom is a Bible Basher, (not literally bashing a Bible onto someone's head) and she watches 'Christian Broadcasts' all day long, whilst cute, innocent Isaac plays with his toys. But, as the saying goes, God has a plan for all of us, and God's plan for Isaac's Mom is to kill her own child. Christians and Jews, this is the guy you're worshiping, real nice man huh? As Isaac's Mom gets a butcher knife to murder Isaac, Isaac finds a trapdoor, jumps down and now your adventure begins.

You find yourself in a basement. Well, not just any basement, a truly massive one that has many rooms and about 6 levels to it. Probably bigger than the actual house itself. Each level is divided into rooms, with many power ups to collect and monsters to kill. As you may have guessed, each level gets harder and harder, The Basement 1 being the easiest and The Womb 2 being the hardest. Each room may hold pick ups, monsters or both, or sometimes, just masses of giant turds. Lovely. Also, each level holds a boss, and killing a boss lets you journey down to the next level. As you land in The Basement 1, you'll see a set of instructions on the floor, telling you the controls. The controls are difficult to get used to at the start. You use WASD to move and the arrow keys to shoot your tears. Yes, you read this right, you shoot tears. How trippy is that? I honestly think these guys were high whilst making this game. Anyway, your tears are your basic source of attacking (well, the only source really). You can upgrade your tears by picking up power ups, letting you charge up your tears or shoot them in many directions at once. Bombs and keys become useful as well, letting you open doors and secret passageways. Although there are many powers to collect to aid you in your escape of your own Mother, if ol' Uncle Death pays you a visit, that's it. No checkpoints. You'll have to start the game again.

Shoot those damn tears Isaac!

There are numerous ways to upgrade Isaac, and by doing so, evolving him into this black creature of death, making him truly hideous to even look at. There are two ways to do so, the good way and the evil way (by the way, I've just made this up). The good way is to get the powers from the power up room with the golden doors. These power ups include things like Mom's Eye, or even worse, Mom's underwear, which, for some bizarre reason, you wear on your head. You can collect these power ups with no strings attached. There's one power up room a level. The other, more riskier approach is to make a deal with the Devil, trading X amount of hearts to get these powers. Why use useful hearts to get powers, when you can get one some for free? Well, the Devil's powers usually are a lot more powerful (for example, Brimstone, upgrading your tears to super cool lasers). Tough choice, eh? The Devil room spawns after killing a boss, but not every time, so it's useful to go to the power up rooms just in case. Other than the powers, you can collect items such as cards and so forth. I would give you more information on these items, but annoyingly the game doesn't actual give you any detail of what the card does. This, in my opinion, is one of the major flaws of the game. People may enjoy the guessing, but I'm not like you, I'm lazy.

This Satan guy looks a bit dodgy...

What I truly love about this game is that you'll never play the same game twice. Every time you start a new level, it'll be different, making the game even more enjoyable, not boring the gamer as easily. Mind you, you will get bored of it after about 20 hours ish, but if you leave it for a while and come back to it, you'll soon be hooked again. There are also many alternate endings, 13 in fact. 2 were added on after the DLC The Wrath of the Lamb, which adds more characters and items. The monsters are again, one of the main reasons as why I enjoyed this game. There are so many types, from flies to massive jumping headless stick men. Horrifying.

I won't say who this is, but you might have guessed already.

So to sum up, for about £3, this game is a must buy, and will attract a wide range of gamers alike. Sure, it ain't perfect, the fact you don't even know what your items and power ups to is pretty annoying, and yes after a while you will get bored. Although every game is different, it does seem like the game repeats itself. Other than that, this is a great, little game, and it's thoroughly enjoyable.

No Work, All Play Rating: 8/10

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1000 pageviews ARGHGHGHGHGH(!)

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