Tuesday, 21 June 2016 00:00

Why 'The Binding of Isaac' is the Greatest Game Ever, And You Can Too!

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September 28, 2011, is a date that will forever live in the minds of all of us PC gamers as the day the greatest game of all time was released. Yes, you already know, I’m talking, OF COURSE, about Dat Boi (The Binding of Isaac)* and all of its subsequent updates/releases/updated releases (more precisely, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth). Now, you might be thinking, “Don’t you mean Skyrim: The Elder Mods V?” And my answer is, no. No, I’m not. I didn’t even mention it until you asked about it just now. ANYWAYS, now that we got that out of the way, you may be correctly wondering, “Why are you making an article about a well-known fact?” I’m glad you asked. It’s because, my dear reader, this gem of a game is getting yet another update to make it an even better game, one that will refresh its eternal spot on top of the upper echelons of gaming: The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+. Exciting, yes? So to remind us all of the amazingness that this game encases, I will break down just a few of the LITERALLY UNLIMITED reasons why this ‘series’ is the GOAT we’ve come to know and love today.

For brevity, let’s discuss the foundation of this game: its genre. According to Steam, BOI’s genre is Action, Adventure, Indie, and RPG. Wikipedia is quite a bit more particular, classifying it as roguelike, dungeon crawl, shooter, and action-adventure (Rebirth is classified as basically the same). As an action game, BOI: A delivers hand over fist on weapons one can use on enemy and boss mobs, showcasing an astounding number of ways to decimate your enemies’ future corpses with multiple tear combinations and synergies. Trust me; there’s no other game in existence that comes close to that unobtainable amount of destruction.

Action? Check.

As an adventure game, some may scoff at the “small” 6 chapters of rooms total that one can visit on a playthrough (although there’s technically 7 with the inclusion of Chapter 4.5, an optional Blue Womb area). But need I remind you that we’re still talking about DAT BOI??? Chapters 1 through 4 are each made up of two-floor levels. These floor levels themselves also have two variant modes: The Basement/Cellar/Burning Basement, The Caves/Catacombs/Flooded Caves, The Depths/Necropolis/Dank Depths, & The Womb/Utero/Scarred Womb. This means that before you get to either chapters 4.5 or 5, you’ll have visited at most eight areas with the potential to make 1,296 different floor combinations. This DOESN’T include the seven different curses that have the potential to occur on any one of these floors, making the true potential of various playthroughs ACTUALLY equal 1,895,369,262,041,200,910,679 BEFORE THE FINAL 2 CHAPTERS ALONE!

So are six small chapters really ‘six small chapters?’ C’mon. And this figure doesn’t even take into consideration what these floors are filled with. Enemies around each corner, 66 different boss monsters with multiple variants guarding unique treasures, 18 different mini-bosses with their own assortment of variants, treasure rooms with the possibility of a double treasure room randomly thrown in, secret and super-secret rooms in between existing discovered topographical maps, crawl spaces and black markets, even "I AM ERROR" rooms secretly found between floors themselves!

Adventure? Check. Indie? Check.

As an indie game, this game was independently made. RPG? This game has all the necessary elements of RPG's, both modern and classic! From a story point of view, BOI: A makes you play the game multiple times, so one slowly unravels the narrative, progressing further and further, deeper and deeper into the life that is Isaac and the painful separation of his mental, and perhaps physical, state from the reality of his life around him. Each subsequent run brings more questions for the player to digest and mull over, maybe even confirming thoughts or suspicions one may have had regarding the game’s events. In any event, this story is as deep and engrossing as any proper RPG is expected to contain. It isn’t alphabet soup spoon-fed to the player. No, this story is a thick cut of steak: enticing, yet requiring proper portions and time to taste and absorb its contents.

In addition to the story, BOI: A has choices to make regarding who the player will be. Each character begins their (and your) adventure with specific stats and starting items making certain characters more prone to specific situations and/or special rooms. There’s even Eden, a character that, when selected, has all of his/her stats randomly generated, including starting items, pills/cards/runes, and trinkets, for our die-hard D&D fans. Regardless of which character you begin your journey with, the standard heroic arc so many Role Playing Games strive for is impressed as the user becomes more and more adept at picking and choosing which upgrades to receive as they “level up” from floor to floor.

First time players will likely start with a sense of wonder as they progress through the dungeons, killing what they can, grabbing the closest shiny thing they find, probably getting themselves killed through a combination of bad choices and enemy placement, while experienced players will push their weight around, thinking they know exactly where they should go and what power-ups to pass up on, eventually becoming an unstoppable force, or something else entirely. Not once will anyone who plays BOI: A know exactly what is behind the next door, but that is exactly the enticement: the mystery, that thing that keeps them returning to it. That ever-fleeting sense of euphoria. That feeling when you finally get the shrubbery you asked for as well as the additional one in a two layered effect with a path running through the middle…

RPG? Check

Regarding Wikipedia’s classifications for BOI: A, it’s obvious they’re certainly correct and applicable, but should anything else need be said about them?


TL:DR - Yes.

*Please keep in mind that this article is purely based off well documented and proven facts and in no way can be refuted.

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Charles Howington

Chuckowski fancies himself an artist, musician, avid gamer, medicine man, and now writer for the site you're currently viewing. He loves great games, enjoys good games, and can appreciate bad games (especially if they're so bad they're good). Everything is fine, nothing matters, and do the lives we live outweigh those of the people we scarred living them, or does none of that matter once we've returned to the hungry ground we spawned from? Just ignore that last sentence, let's enjoy some games!