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The Binding of Isaac is an almost top-down game that borrows heavily from the roguelike genre. Players explore dungeons that consist of a series of connected, single-screen rooms with randomized environments, items and enemies for each gameplay session. Like the original games death is final and the player has to restart the entire game to continue. Each game consists of five series of dungeons leading up to a final confrontation. Each dungeon has a boss and defeating it opens a staircase to descend to a new environment.

The story is based on the one from the Hebrew bible where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. In the game Isaac is a young boy whose mother is called by a voice to kill her son to prove her allegiance. The introduction however hints that it is only the boy's imagination as he draws the scenes on sheets of paper. In his story, Isaac manages to flee from his mother by escaping through a trap door before she can kill him. That way he ends up in a dungeon and he has to find a way to kill her.

Players control Isaac through four movement keys along with four additional ones to fire in the four main directions. Isaac attacks monsters by launching his tears. There is a slight delay in the firing, so that combined with movement it is possible to launch the projectiles with a bend trajectory. Isaac can collect hearts to maintain his health level, upgrades for his tears (triple shot, more damage, charge, mirror to make them retract their path, ... ) and coins to purchase items at Zelda-inspired shops. Other items such as bombs, pills with various effects, and keys are left behind by opponents. The pool of possibilities is very large, making each gameplay session completely different. There are also special items to be found such as a magnet to draw in items, or companions that help fire at enemies. Certain ones have drawbacks, such as transporting Isaac back to the starting area or reducing the amount of hearts in exchange for additional lives. Isaac can also discover hidden rooms and secret environments.

The game keeps track of the discovered collectibles and secrets, and allows the player to review these. Next to Isaac, three additional playable characters can be unlocked, with names based on the biblical tradition: Magdalene, Cain, and Judas. They each present a different class with a different playing style. There are also multiple endings.


The Binding of Isaac Windows Cain, one of the unlockable characters, with a full upgrade and a bit bloated
The Binding of Isaac Windows Preparing for the final confrontation with mother
The Binding of Isaac Windows One of the seven Sin mini-bosses
The Binding of Isaac Windows The little red guy helps Isaac to attack.

Promo Images

The Binding of Isaac Screenshot
The Binding of Isaac Screenshot
The Binding of Isaac Screenshot
The Binding of Isaac Screenshot

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User Reviews

A dark aesthetic and stiff difficulty make this a shining example of the genre Windows Fragasnap (188)
Aaaaaaaaaaalmost good Windows Pixelspeech (949)

Critic Reviews

The A.V. Club Windows Oct 10, 2011 A 100
Game Sphere Windows Jan 29, 2012 98 out of 100 98
Destructoid Windows Oct 02, 2011 9.5 out of 10 95
DarkZero Windows Oct 04, 2011 9 out of 10 90
Vandal Online Windows Oct 02, 2011 9 out of 10 90
Gameplay (Benelux) Windows Oct 28, 2011 89 out of 100 89
3D Juegos Macintosh Oct 03, 2011 8.8 out of 10 88
GamingTrend Windows Oct 03, 2011 85 out of 100 85
Meristation Windows Oct 01, 2011 8 out of 10 80
OMGN: Online Multiplayer Games Network Windows Oct 09, 2011 7.6 out of 10 76


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Nintendo 3DS version

On 29th February 2012 developer Edmund Charles McMillen tweeted that Nintendo decided not to allow a 3DS version. The main reason for refusal was "questionable religious content".

"Attention: After a long internal debate Nintendo has decided NOT to allow the Binding of Isaac on the 3ds. :("

Contributed to by Sciere (393289)