The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Video Game Review)

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a remake of indie developer Edmund McMillen's 2011 hit The Binding of Isaac. The game puts a twisted religious spin on the twin-stick shooter genre with hundreds of different items to unlock and nearly as many references to some of the video games industries greatest titles ever. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth takes a great indie game and makes it a little more intriguing with revamped graphics, tons of new items and secrets and an overall improved presentation that makes the game more accessible and enjoyable than ever before. Fans of the original will no doubt pick up the game as soon as possible, but the remake is good enough to draw in a whole new crowd that have yet to experience the series.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth tells the story of a young boy named Isaac that travels through the basement of his home and into the depths of hell all in an attempt to escape the clutches of his homicidal mother. Isaac's mother loses her sanity and attempts to murder her only child after the voice of God commands her. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has one of the gaming industries most bizarre storylines, but multiple endings and unlockable levels will have players guessing what ultimately happens to Isaac long after completing the game for the first time.

Isaac is left with nothing to fight off the horrors that lurk below except his tears, but there are plenty of items to find throughout the game that grant new powers to the player. The items range from statistical boosters to activate and passive abilities. Each new item changes the look of Isaac, and the character never looks the same by the end of a run. The game is a rogue-like, so each death is permanent and forces the player to restart the next game with no new items for their character. The randomness of items, enemies and level layouts keeps the game interesting even after players have seen everything the game has to offer.

There are over 150 new items included in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. The new items add a lot of depth to the game and gives players that have already enjoyed the original game plenty of exciting new content to discover in the new title. Additionally, the game packs several new characters, new bosses and a new level. Much of the new content was pulled from the original game due to restrictions in the Flash engine the game was built in, but each item in the game can combine with others for unique effects now to make for plenty of new effects players will want to try for themselves.

One really cool new feature for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is local co-op. A second player can now join in on any run in the game. The second player takes a heart from the first player and spawns as a flying baby that can fly and shoot tears at enemies. Like nearly everything else in the game, the spawned babies are random ,and the babies come with unique effects from shooting unique tears to randomly dropping troll bombs that can accidentally kill enemies or either player. Multiplayer is a lot of fun and is just one more reason for players to try out the new game.

For players that prefer to play the game alone, new game modes have been added to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. When starting up a new run, players can choose from one of two difficulty settings: Normal and Hard. Normal mode does not change the game in any way, but Hard mode tends to offer many more champion version enemies to fight and far less consumable drops than players will have come accustomed to. There are different unlocks for each mode, and longtime fans will enjoy Hard mode as a way to get an even greater challenge from a game they thought they had already mastered. Seeded runs have also been added to the game to allow players to share seeds and experience the same over and over again or even play the same run at the same time for some true head-to-head matches.

The new presentation for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is fantastic. The game's new graphics engine not only includes improved artwork, but dynamic lighting makes the dark depths players explore even more exciting, while the smooth and locked framerate makes playing the game a much more enjoyable experience than the sluggish, original game. A new soundtrack also adds a chilling effect to an already creepy game full of crying babies and deformed monsters looking to kill Isaac throughout each level. Full controller support is available on each system for the game as well, and the title actually plays well on controller with twin-stick controls that is just as effective as keyboard controls.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has been one of the most anticipated releases for 2014 for longtime fans of the McMillen series, and the game does not disappoint. The bizarre, religious themed title is still something that not every gamer will be able to stomach, but there is a really fun game hidden beneath the naked baby shooting tears at poop monsters and demons. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is one of the best indie games ever, and the game is our favorite roguelike we have ever played. Look for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth on PlayStation Network and Steam today.

Game Features:
  • Local Multiplayer 1-2
  • Over 450 Items
  • Redesigned Graphics and New Soundtrack
  • Two Difficulty Settings and Seeded Runs
  • Steam Trading Card Support
  • Trophy/Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer & Publisher: Nicalis
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC (reviewed), Mac & Linux
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Score: 9.1 out of 10
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