Title: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Platform: Steam, Windows, OSX, Linux, PS4, PSVita

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Rogue-like, top down shooter

Players: Single player, Local Co Op (1-2)

Written by Whistler 7th November 2014

1 And oh did the lord speak unto him, “Edmund, The Binding of Isaac was the sh*t, but you should totally redo it the way you had originally intended.”

2 Edmund rose up and said, “I shall do as you wish, let us rock the roll.”

3 However Whistler, sceptic as he was thought it Rebirth would never come, but once he stumbled across a single image on Nicalis’ upcoming games list it rung true in his heart that, “This game will be sweet”.

Okay so I’m not the greatest a writing parodies of the biblical verses but you get the gist; following the rising success of Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac was a culmination of Edmund McMillan, Florian Himsl, Danny Baranowsky, a Legend of Zelda gameplay style and a plot composed of the biblical story by the same title.

Many including myself were completely unsure what to expect when Isaac cropped up on Steam back in the September of 2011 (the trailer on Steam still haunts me to this day), combining both a unique art style with a grim undertone, a catchy soundtrack, piles upon piles on video gaming references along with ludicrously addictive gameplay though it quickly won over most of us and is still played regularly to date.

So as you could imagine my excitement had to be tied down as Rebirth after its announcement was a very long wait indeed, but here it is, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.

Serving as both a graphical overhaul as well as the ‘definitive’ version of the original, Rebirth is very much the same title only stronger, faster and better that sees the player taking on the role of Isaac, a young boy whose mother hears a voice from above, stating her son is corrupted with sin the Mother takes everything ‘sinful’ away from him and is eventually asked to prove her devotion by sacrificing Isaac. In a panic Isaac discovers a trap door under his rug, just as his mother bursts into the room he leaps into the darkness where he must battle the monstrosities and eventually is very mother with the power of his tears (the game is certainly an odd ball, but a lovable one).

Starting in the basement players explore procedurally generated rooms collecting coins, bombs keys and special items, fight monsters, take on bosses and make deals with merchants, demons and angels.

With each victory and defeat players will unlock various bosses, playable characters and items for following playthroughs as they meet hidden requirements; as players best these descents the floors will change and the decent will become ever deeper taking you into the bowls of evil effectively giving you an innumerable amount of unique playthroughs.

For lack of a better term, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is more of everything we loved with the original.

Sporting a revamped visual style, brand new soundtrack, new enemies, more bosses, more floors, bigger rooms, new items, controller support, two player local Co Op, a new engine, new playable characters, seeded runs and more hours of rogue-like goodness than you can shake a stick at and hell it even adds a save function with 3 separate files so you don’t have to end an epic run just cause you have ‘real life’ responsibilities to be dealing with. It is very much needed to say that Edmund teaming up with the guys that brought us 1001 Spikes as well as Cave Story+ was a very smart move, compiling all of Binding of Isaac and Wrath of the Lamb then adding everything already mentioned with a snazzy new paintjob akin to Edmund’s original envisioning of the title.

Both graphically and aesthetically Rebirth is just gorgeous while keeping the unique stylings of Edmund’s palette.

Now running at a flashy 60fps the game runs like butter, yes butter, for all the rich language at my disposal that is the best terminology I can comprehend when playing this title. Everything just runs so smooth with joyous levels of detail written into every nook and cranny as well as the superb animations of each individual sprite and dynamic effect. I wasn’t even sure how I would regard the newfound art style but just goes to show that Nicalis know how to handle the medium, and they handle it artistic expertise.

Gameplay is much of the same with more, granted I find it hard to truly critique this as yeah, it’s still Isaac only with more content. I will say though that whether or not it’s just that after managing to defeat the final boss in the original that I’ve become so accustomed to the highest difficulty level, but Rebirth just doesn’t feel quiet as challenging as its original form. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but considering the sheer number of times it took me to as much as get close to facing Mom never mind defeating the subsequent harder bosses it feels odd to compare it to the mere four hours and three tries it took to defeat the devil (sorry spoilers but I mean the game is 3 years old now).

The question of course, is it worth it?

With no regrets whatsoever I can say yes, for both veterans and newcomers to the game, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth holds a wealth of addictively fun gameplay where half the fun is discovering what new secrets are held within and is another title to share tales of your deeds around the water cooler (just expect weird looks when you try to explain then rationalize the premise). The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is no HD cash in, nor is it merely a standalone expansion, instead offering a plethora of content and a revamped overhaul closer to the project’s original design that truly revives my love of the game.

Isaac has been reborn, his 2nd coming is nigh and if you enjoyed the original, guess what, you’ll be saying goodbye for another several hundred hours as you sink your teeth into this Rebirth.



Ludicrously addictive gameplay,

Unique playthroughs,

Plenty of Content,

Co Op,

Gorgeously horrific aesthetics.


Only local Co Op,

Social life may get in the way,

Subconscious may be visited by some gruesome imagery,

Loses some of the light heartedness of the original.

Final verdict,

I sunk way more than Steam’s predicted 44 hours into what was a $10 indie masterpiece, I’m probably going to spend way more with the 8/10 Rebirth.

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