Review: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Computer)

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth: Member Review

Computer 2,315 views 2 likes 2 comments
Reviewed by Alex McAuliffe, posted Mar 8, 2015, last updated Jun 22, 2016
A sequel to The Binding of Isaac, this game hopes to expand and improve on its predecessor. Does it succeed?
Mar 8, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): November 4, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): November 4, 2014
  • Publisher: Nicalis
  • Developer: Edmund McMillen
  • Genres: Roguelike, dungeon-crawler, action-adventure
  • Also For: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
My first ever review! Today I am reviewing an indie roguelike game available for PC, PS4 and Playstation Vita called The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. It is a sequel to the critically acclaimed PC game The Binding of Isaac. The reason I chose to review this game, even though it's not super new, was because it was recently named the 5th most played game of 2014 with over 41.5 million collective hours played. It also had an average playing time of 48 hours per owner. And that's significant considering the game was released on November 4, 2014. I purchased this game the day it came out. Does it live up to all the hype? Did it really deserve all that playing time? Well let's find out!
Alex McAuliffe
REVIEW: THE BINDING OF ISAAC: REBIRTH
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GAMEPLAY - PREPARE TO DIE

Now I don't know if you've ever experienced a real tough-as-nails roguelike game, such as FTL or Rogue Legacy, so I'll go ahead and explain the genre. A roguelike is a game in which a player traverses through randomly generated dungeons. When a player dies, he/she must restart from the beginning in an entirely different dungeon. There is often a boss to be beat at the end of the string of dungeons.

This game follows that pattern semi-faithfully. The player will start with 3 heart containers in the first set of randomly generated floors, The Basement. From there, the player can enter doors to rooms that are often filled with enemies. These enemies are defeated using your only weapon, your own tears (yes, you read that right). You can't leave rooms without defeating all of the enemies. Besides the regular rooms, each floor has an item room, which contains an item which improves your stats or otherwise helps your performance, and a boss room, which contains a boss which must be defeated in order to advance to the next floor. There are also some more complicated minor floors, but I'll leave those to your discovery.
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Items like this, which turns your tears into a four-tear blast, are critical for advancing in the game.


Where this game really shines is the synergies that different items form with each other. For example, an item called Gnawed Leaf allows you to become invincible while standing still and not firing tears. Another item called Daddy Long Legs summons a giant foot to stop on enemies in the room. When you get both of these items, you can stand still and take no damage while a giant foot kills all the enemies for you. There are tons and tons of items in this game, and each item interacts with others in different ways. It's really fun to experiment and see how the items compliment each other. There are items which change your tears, there are items that can be recharged and activated be beating a certain number of rooms. there are items that increase your damage, your speed, your health. The item system really brings other games to their knees.
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Synergies like this are totally possible, and there are even wackier combinations out there.

The feeling of getting one of these amazing synergies is great. But you're not going to get one often. You are going to die, a lot. All the time. But that only makes the good runs all the more rewarding. You slowly learn the mechanics of the game, what each item does, what great item combos there are, and so on. It's extremely rewarding yet extremely challenging. With tight controls, every mistake you make is your fault, not the game's. Sticking with this game was the greatest choice I made in a long time after I almost abandoned it due to its insane difficulty. But now I've gotten a lot better. With this game, and with this genre really, practice makes perfect.

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Get used to this screen. You'll be seeing it a lot.


PRESENTATION - RETRO GLORY

The game's visuals are simply stunning, and not in the way Far Cry 3 is stunning on a crazy high-end machine. The game moved from the flash animation of its predecessor, into a more 16-bit retro style. Each and every character and enemy model is gorgeous. The work put into the visuals really shines through. And there isn't one bit of lag or stuttering, even on weak machines as I have tested. The pixel art style works extremely well, and creates an extremely dark, absorbing atmosphere. The game isn't plagued by the desire to have as realistic graphics as possible, as most games nowadays do. It isn't distracted by the quality or hyper-realism of its graphics. The graphics go extremely well with the way the game plays. It seems natural, to say the least.

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Plenty of demon themed beautiful retro art to see here.

The music is wonderful as well. The various sounds of all the different types of monsters will plague your mind as you enter the rooms. The wonderful music that plays behind each floor really helps to create an atmosphere, as I already mentioned. Not much else to say here.

LASTING APPEAL - CAN'T STOP THIS TRAIN

With 10 unlockable biblically-themed characters, a grand total of 343 items, 178 achievements/trophies, and a host of special challenge runs, you will NEVER get bored of this game. I swear. I have 150+ hours logged in it and I've only unlocked 50% of the achievements. And those were just the easy ones. There's an absolutely insane amount of content in this game, all of it meaningful, and no filler. Each character has different starting items or stats, and each boss unlocks a different item when beat with each character. The huge amount of enemies and different bosses is guaranteed to keep you occupied. Each set of floors has an alternate set of floors with alternate bosses. Achievements for not taking damage, for collecting certain items, for beating challenges, and for plenty of other things will take your time away from you. It's actually insane.
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This achievement is granted upon unlocking everything in the game. Only 2% of players have unlocked it. Don't expect to see this screen anytime soon!
Verdict
Pros
+ Huge amount of content
+ Gorgeous presentation
+ Extremely rewarding yet difficult gameplay
Cons
- Maybe too difficult for casual gamers
9 Presentation
Gorgeous pixel art with a deeply immersive soundtrack.
9 Gameplay
Wonderfully rewarding yet extremely challenging without feeling cheap.
10 Lasting Appeal
Enormous amount of content with virtually infinite replayability.
9.7
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is an absolutely amazing game and I highly recommend everyone give it a try. The price for the amount of content is extremely low. I hope you enjoyed my review! Good night 'temp!
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