Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
Few developers have such a defined aesthetic as Edmund McMillan. His work on Team Meat led to Super Meat Boy’s cute-gross look where characters involve a pile of meat, a girl made of bandages and a fetus in a jar. This unique feel to his games has allowed him to get away with themes and story beats that few other developers could. Today’s game is perhaps the greatest example of this. Today’s game is The Binding of Isaac, initially released in 2011 for PC.
The Binding of Isaac is a roguelike that utilizes mechanics from the 2D Legend of Zelda games. Isaac must traverse through several floors, each their own randomized dungeon, picking up power-ups and defeating enemies. Some power-ups such as cards and pills provide a one-time boost for Isaac but many more are permanent upgrades which change Isaac’s abilities. He starts off throwing his own tears at enemies one at a time but may upgrade this to everything from machine gun tears to a full blown laser beam. Upgrades can be just about anything so the items you get often determine how you will play the rest of your run.
The Binding of Isaac’s story references the Biblical story of Isaac, which has God order Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to God before taking this order back at the last moment. In The Binding of Isaac, Isaac’s Mom, a woman who follows the word of televangelists, believes that she must sacrifice her son to God. Isaac, fearing what his Mom has become, escapes into a basement which contains many floors and many horrors. The game has McMillan’s characteristic child-like art and poop jokes galore but tackles themes such as child abuse, religious indoctrination, and self-identity head on.
The Binding of Isaac has evolved significantly since its initial release. After releasing an expansion titled Wrath of the Lamb, McMillan recreated The Binding of Isaac, which was previously made using the limited Adobe Flash engine, and titled it The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Rebirth has then had its own set of expansions, Afterbirth, Afterbirth+ and Repentence. The Binding of Isaac has been ported to a number of other platforms, including MacOS, Linux, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS and more.
Critics and fans both have praised The Binding of Isaac, with each release receiving equal or greater praise than the last. The graphic imagery has been too much for some but none can argue its uniqueness. The mixing of Zelda-esque dungeons and roguelike gameplay has been loved since its release, with each new expansion offering new twists on the formula and the game’s seemingly endless depth encourages frequent replays. Each time player’s believe they have conquered the game’s challenges, something new appears that encourages players to come back. The Binding of Isaac received a prequel game, The Legend of Bumbo, which released on November 12, 2019.
Thank you so much for listening! Big news! We are going to have Adrian Simple from The Gaming Observer on the show tomorrow to talk about a game from his childhood so make sure you tune in for that. If you haven’t heard his flash briefing, go enable The Gaming Observer or go to thegamingobserver.com to catch the latest in gaming news. So as always, don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.
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