Three years ago, Edmund McMillen released his game, The Binding of Isaac. The game was a rogue-like, randomly generated dungeon-crawler where you play as a young boy who escapes his fanatic mother and becomes trapped with horrible monsters in his basement. The Binding of Isaac was very well received and spawned a rabid fanbase who log hundreds of hours into it. In early November, McMillen released his remake of the game, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Featuring a new visual style, its own engine, and new content (as well as all of the original content) is Rebirth worth dropping $10 more than the original game costs?
If you’re unfamiliar with the gameplay of the Isaac series, it’s most similar to a twin-stick shooter. You move Isaac through each room and shoot tears at your enemies to kill them. Each floor is randomized with different rooms, bosses, and treasures. The treasures can upgrade or modify Isaac in different ways, such as replacing his tears with a head-mounted laser or giving him wings to fly over spikes and traps. The other main component of the Isaac series is its crushing difficulty. Your health is limited and death is permanent. But, this only adds to the addictive aspect of dying, but starting fresh and having the opportunity to find new upgrades and make it further than you did before. Rebirth doesn’t change any of the core gameplay, which is probably to its benefit. What it does add are all new enemies, new characters to play as, and items which are what shape and mold each playthrough to be unique.
The visual style of Rebirth is the most noticeable difference from the original game. Rebirth features a more 16-bit look, compared to the original game’s flash design. Rebirth’s visuals are a massive improvement. It’s one of those situations where you don’t realize how much better it is, until you load up the first Isaac and compare it to Rebirth. The light effects, models, and textures are all massively upgraded in Rebirth and its engine is an even better overhaul. The new engine makes the game run seamlessly, without any of the frame rate drops and loading times of the original. When a game has difficulty as a main draw, it absolutely has to have smooth and accurate gameplay, which Rebirth delivers.
The sound has also received some touch-ups, though nothing quite as major. The new songs and sound effects are crisp and clear, compared to the somewhat muddled sound of the previous game. Creepy vocals now accompany the initial loading screen, setting a fantastic mood for your next death-defying run. While the actual music that plays during the game is in the same vein as the original music, the change of pace is nice and new players won’t even know that the songs are similar to the original game’s.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is an enormous step forward for the game and will hopefully be a stepping stone for more games in the series. The new engine makes the gameplay run exactly as it should, the new visuals are slick and the new sound is a step-up from the flash-game level of the previous. With all of the content from the original game and its DLC, Wrath of the Lamb, in addition to its entirely new set of content, Rebirth offers hundreds of hours of gameplay and replayability. This is the kind of game that can be daunting at first, but is addictive enough to keep players wanting to keep at it. Even with the new higher price tag, Rebirth is the best bang for your buck for the gamer who enjoys a challenge.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is Worth It!