As with many indie games, “The Binding of Isaac” may have flown under your gaming radar. In this case, that would be quite the tragedy. “The Binding of Isaac” is a 2011 randomly generated role playing game shooter with heavy rougelike elements. Rougelike sub-genre games are characterized by random level generation, title based graphics and permanent death—so think Nintendo Zelda dungeons. It is a Flash game and the 2-D art design is what I could only describe as cute gore.
The game begins with Isaac and his mother in their home. His mother hears the “voice of God” demanding a sacrifice to prove her faith, so naturally, Isaac escapes into their demon-infested basement. The game takes place in the basement, which is created differently each time you play the game. The maps are formatted to each have a treasure room, shop, secret mystery room and a boss dungeon. You can pick up keys to open locked doors, throw bombs at enemies and use secret doors to find coins to buy new items. There are hundreds of unique items and enemies to guarantee a new game experience each time you play. The cool thing about this game is that while the items give you powers and other advantages, they also change your appearance, unique to each item you pick up. The ultimate aim is to move through each basement to the boss and drop to a lower and lower level as you advance to eventually fight Mom. Your enemies range from stationary projectile-shooting floating heads, to near-invincible high-speed zombies. To defeat your enemies, you must use your tears as projectiles that can be powered up based on the items that you pick up.
Each time you make it to the final level and defeat Mom, the game ups its difficulty and expands on its enemies and map size. There are four full chapters that span eight levels. This allows for extreme variation in the time of gameplay, ranging from just five minutes to a personal maximum of an hour and a half. This, of course, depends on what kind of gamer you are. If you are like me, you have to check out every room and try to get every item, or you could just aim to go straight to the boss of the level and get to the bottom as quick as you can. With every successful conquest, various characters emerge with new abilities and disadvantages. It does get really hard though, and can be frustrating when you are losing consecutive games on the first level. There are also over 80 achievements to unlock if you are an achievement hunter.
This game is never boring and feels new each time you sit down to play it. It currently runs at $4.99 at the Steam store, but that can come down a couple bucks during Steam sales when you’re prowling for deals. You can also get the DLC expansion, “Wrath of the Lamb” to get even more of an overarching and difficult experience. I’ve personally logged almost 200 hours with this game because it’s fantastic for a study break. Give yourself a 10-15 minute study break to play some “Binding of Isaac.” It’s wonderfully simple but keeps you coming back for more with an ever increasing difficulty. “The Binding of Isaac” gets 9/10, for the occasional lag to slow the game down. Again, be careful with the addictive factor of this game.