‘Quickie Reviews’ is a super quick run down of a game I don’t have time to dedicate a full review to. That doesn’t mean I won’t come back to it later and drop a full ramble. Basically, if you want a review but don’t want to read 20 paragraphs, then these are for you!
Isaac has lived a life of happiness. One of joy and filled with childlike wonder. All is not well within the bonce of your dear mother however, as she comes down with a serious case of the “Deitic Delusions”. Stripping you of toys, clothes and freedom, she proceeds to break into your room, knife in hand, and tries to slice your podgy frame to ribbons. You miraculously find a passage to your basement and promptly escape into the dank depths below. This is the Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ – It is horrifically disturbing. This is the just the beginning.
The overarching plot of The Binding Of Isaac is a bizarre one, open to many interpretations. As a result I will hope for the best, and give you a general gist. You are a naked boy, in a basement infested with what appears to be your deformed, abandoned siblings. They take the form of bloated monstrosities, walking intestines, literal faeces and sentient vaginas – among other things. Your goal is to murder your mother by descending further into the depths of your basement, climbing back into her womb, destroying her heart, going to hell and murdering Satan. Or yourself(?). Or a goat. Or a bigger Satan. Yeah, this game is weird. If you manage to do all of that, then you get a wonderfully cryptic ending, of which there are sixteen. This is not for the feint of heart. The story of this game literally made my fiancee cry. Kinda disturbing.
But what do you actually do? I hear you ask. Simple, run around a Legend of Zelda-esque fever dream, killing enemies with your literal tears, find loot that may or may not make your stronger, kill a boss and move on. Repeat until you win. Or you die. Oh, and death is permanent. Upgrades can, and will, deform Isaac causing his character model to morph into a hideous vestige of his former self. You can consume copious amounts of discarded drugs that can cause a plethora of debilitating effects. Heck, even forging a pact with Satan to gain otherworldly power isn’t off the table. It’s a brutally difficult gauntlet of enemies, bosses and stage hazards that elevate this game above and beyond the typical ‘twin stick shooter’.
A game this disturbing requires an art style suitably grotesque – The Binding of Isaac delivers in viscous droves. Everything from Isaac’s naked, bloated body, to the hordes of malformed atrocities, to the incredibly diverse set of bosses and the mind mindbogglingly suggestive stages, all hammer home that this game is trying to disturb you. Never frighten, or scare you. Simply trying to make sure you never forget. Ever.
Even the sound design is a thing of unnatural, perverted beauty. Gutteral instruments ring on every floor, the sounds of wet flesh slapping the damp earth or the wails of your preposterously outlandish kin(?) echo throughout your adventures. Everything is dripping. Everything is gross. Everything sounds abnormally aberrant – and I love it.
As time goes on, the story, visuals and sounds shock will eventually fade. This leaves only the gameplay – which has to stand on its own. Luckily The Binding Of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is a game you can sink literally thousands of hours into and still come out feeling an immense sense of satisfaction. This is one of the best rogue-likes on the market and deserves to be played by every Cain, Abel and Isaac. An easy 9/10.
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