Release Date: November 4th 2014
Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, Windows, Mac, Linux
Reviewed On: PS4 (Free to Playstation Plus members until December 2014)
When Binding of Isaac was originally released 3 years ago, it received rave reviews that praised its dungeon crawler feel and replayability. Now it has been fully remastered for PS4, PS Vita, and PC by the brilliant Edmund McMillen and Nicalis — who also worked on the port of Cave Story — and it is better than ever.
Rebirth retains the story from the original game — You play as Isaac, after escaping into a trapdoor in his room to escape sacrifice. It also includes the content in the Wrath of the Lamb expansion. Every single item, enemy, and backdrop has been remade. It looks really different to the original game, but it still has the same twin-stick shooter gameplay. There are tons of new items too, and there is an option to input seeds for levels too — try “BASE MENT” for starters! There are secret rooms too, which some items reveal on the map. The game is just like a constant loop in the dungeons of Legend of Zelda, albeit with more gross enemies and vast amounts of poop. The soundtrack deserves a special mention too as it complements the ambiance perfectly.
Permadeath is a huge disadvantage in most games, but I didn’t even care about it in this game. You may get a even better set of items in the next run, which is good because items play a huge role in this game. When you acquire an item, the name of the item flashes on the screen along with a vague description of what it does. The variety of item combos to be acquired is truly amazing — in one playthrough I became so overpowered it was hilarious. There are many other characters too, each with their own advantages. Unlocking new characters can make the game much more easy depending upon your playstyle. There is also a local two-player co-op mode – just press Options/Start on the other controller, which will spawn a Familiar around Isaac that the second player can control. Isaac needs to sacrifice one of his heart containers for it to work though. Even the tear projectile Isaac fires have physics — if you are moving while firing they will swerve.
All of this is complimented by an all-new engine, which is miles better than the Flash they used for the original game. The new engine means that you can quit the game during a run and when you play it the next time you can continue in the same room. This is really useful, especially when you do the aforementioned “BASE MENT” seed runs, or if you consider increasing the difficulty and find yourself stuck in the same map. The game also has full-screen support now.
There are many types of enemies, including eyeless versions of Isaac, huge guys who fart when you get close to them, and tiny cute pieces of poo — toilet humor will never stop being funny, guys. Most enemy movements are random. As you delve deeper into the unknown, enemies get stronger and even get the ability to teleport. This, combined with the fact that most enemies are hell-bent on ruining your day, makes the game really challenging. Sadly, the sound effects for certain enemies sound cheap and don’t feel right. It was irritating hearing the same groan over and over again. It also annoys me that there aren’t proper definitions for any item or enemy in this game. Given the diversity, if any game needed an in-game encyclopedia of sorts, it would be this one. It just really lacks in that area — tons of items and enemies, with nothing to read. But I can’t count that as a disadvantage though — it doesn’t necessarily put me off from playing the game.
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ticks all the boxes for a good remake — improved graphics, new content, not much deviation from the original game, and piles of poop — just kidding. It packs all the replayability and overall fun of the original game along with all the new improvements, and it impresses greatly. This incredibly fun (and gross) game deserves a 9 out of 10.