The Binding of Isaac is one of my all time favorite games thanks to its combination of rogue-like design with classic gameplay. So when developer Edmund Mcmillen announced a revised edition of it, you knew that it was a day one buy from me.
The Binding of Isaac Rebirth may not be a brand new experience but taking one of my favorite games and making it better is more than enough for me.
The story of Rebirth is exactly the same as in the original Binding of Isaac — Isaac’s mother believes she’s hearing the voice of God and is commanded to lock up Isaac in his room until she is told to kill him. To escape, Isaac heads into the labyrinth that is their basement to find a way out.
Gameplay is action base as Isaac runs around and can attack in the cardinal directions. Every floor of the game is randomly generated with some constants like boss rooms and treasure rooms thrown in. Besides finding money, keys and bombs, Isaac can find items that enhance his stats or give him new abilities. These items will change how Isaac looks and by the end of a run, he’ll be completely different than he was at the start.
The rogue-like elements are the same as Isaac normally only has one life, run out of health and Isaac will die and the game ends. As you play through the game, you’ll unlock dozens of achievements that will change subsequent runs — new items, enemies, bosses and even areas to explore. In this way, playing through The Binding of Isaac for your first run will be dramatically different compared to your 50th or more.
Moving on to the “Rebirth” part of the title, the new additions to the game were all about making the good stuff better.
The Binding of Isaac Rebirth features both small and large changes to how the game looks and plays. Where the original game was built using Flash, Rebirth features a new engine and the game looks more in line with something from the SNES era.
A lot of enemies have been redesigned along with a whole host of new creatures to make things difficult for you. New elements like items, obstacles, traps and even super sized rooms are now in the randomization to give the game even more variety than before.
Additions like new characters and special challenges to play that were introduced in the expansion make their return along with balancing out the characters and items that were in the original version.
All in all this is more Isaac to love which is great, but it feels more like a second course rather than a new meal.
The only nitpick that I have with Rebirth is that everything that is new with the game is just more stuff in the sense that it adds breadth but not depth. If you look at the FTL Advanced Edition, the developers added new events, weapons, enemies and more that changed strategies and how a game played out.
I spent about 80 hours playing the original Binding of Isaac + expansion so I certainty got my fill there.
With Rebirth, too much of it felt like I already did it all before with a less graphically impressive version. The new enemies, bosses and items are all great but none of that makes this feels like a new version of the game but a very large content patch.
I would love a Binding of Isaac 2 and see just how the developers expand on the setting and concept from the ground up. And I know this part sounds very negative and that’s because I played the original so much that I was hoping for more “new” content to change how the game plays as opposed to more stuff.
It’s important to remember that you’re talking to someone who spent a hell of a lot of time on the original game and got 99% of the achievements done so my problem with the game is just nitpicking. And this complaint is only for people who spent as much time on the original as I did, for everyone else you can pretty much ignore it.
The Binding of Isaac Rebirth really is the definitive version of one of my favorite games of the last few years and is a must buy for fans. For newcomers who are trying to decide on which version, it’s a no brainer that Rebirth is the best option.