Binding of Isaac video game

As I searched the internet for games to play and review, I came across this game, which is called “The Binding of Isaac.” The game starts off with a story of a child named Isaac, and his mother living happily in their home until the mother gets a message from “a voice above.” The voice tells her that her son is corrupted by sin and needs to be saved. In order to this, she must remove all that was evil, which includes his toys, games, pictures and clothes, from Isaac. After she has done this, the voice comes again and states that Isaac must be cut off from all that is evil in this world, so the mother locks him in his room. This however, is still not enough. The mother’s devotion is questioned and in order to prove herself she must sacrifice and kill her own son. The mother again obliges and grabs a kitchen knife to kill Isaac. At this part, Isaac is panicking and he finds a trapdoor on the floor of his room which he goes through right before the mother opens the door. The image of Isaac right before the mother opend the door is horrific. It makes the players fearful for the child. It also, in my opinion, makes religion seem negative. This game is a playoff of the biblical tale of Isaac. In the biblical tale God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. The fear in the child and the willingness of the mother to kill her son because of a voice she heard is wrong on so many levels (in my perspective).

The game play of this game, according to its creator Edmund McMillen, is a Rogue-like shooter based on the dungeon structure of the NES version of Zelda.” Instead of using leveling system, it uses an item system. There are four sets of items and in every level (item level)  there is a treasure room, shop, boss and other secret/special rooms which might contain unique items. “Binding of the Isaac” is also quite simple. You are using 10 different keys. Letters A S D W to move up and down and left to right and you’re using the arrow keys to shoot balls of water at the enemies, which range from flies to heads with blood running down their mouths. Other weapons include bombs and some weird things. For instance, mom’s bra is used to stun enemies, and mom’s pad is used so enemies would avoid Isaac.  Poop is also used to drop poop on the ground for the enemies to slip on. They also used items that symbolize religion, like the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is used for Isaac to gain wings and to fly over obstacles. It can kill the mother.  There is also a book of sins which spawns a random pick up.  You also use the space bar to pick up items and shift to place the bombs on your desired location.

This game is unique in its ending by the fact, that unlike most games, there are multiple endings. These multiple endings make the game distorted and multi-directional. One of the endings is God stopping Isaac’s mother when she is just about to stab Isaac. God does this by throwing a Bible off of a shelf and onto her head.  Another ending is Isaac opening a treasure chest, which contains a dead blue baby. These references an older game the creator made. The blue baby can also then be played as a character. The final ending, which is achieved after beating Satan in Sheol, shows Isaac opening the chest once again. Isaacs mouth is open and his face is frightened. The imagery in this scene is flickering through all the personas of Isaac that he has had throughout the game.  Isaac is now in his bedroom breathing heavily. It’s a disturbing sight.

Another thing to note is that whenever the player dies, a letter from Isaac’s diary is shown. The letter states, “Dear Diary, today I died.” It also shows a picture, drawn by Isaac, of the thing that killed him. This does not make any sense because how could Isaac write in his diary if he is dead? This game, in my opinion, is very weird. It scares people from religion and is very controversial. 

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2 comments
  1. The story of The Binding of Isaac is so much darker when you consider the imagery presented during gameplay; I can totally understand why you would be repulsed by it. There are several collectible items in the form of dead babies that imply they are aborted fetuses discarded down the trapdoor by Isaac’s mother. It makes for a strange contrast when you consider the more light-hearted parts of the game, like the game over screen or the normal ending. It shows a lack of commitment on the developers’ part. In fact, I think the game’s story would have been stronger if the reason the mother was insane was because of her religion. It seems like a crutch, almost too easy to write a character from. While I do like the sort of “filthy religion” aesthetic the game has, I think the story would have been stronger if the mother was simply an abusive evil woman for unknown reasons. That would clear the way for a greater focus on Isaac, and would make his eventual triumph over his mother much more meaningful instead of a fairly literal deus ex machina.

  2. ultrapoulet said:

    The Binding of Isaac is indeed an interesting game solely for the fact of how dark it is. Throughout the game, it’s hinted at how bad Isaac’s life has been. For example, one of the items found in the game is a can of dog food. The game calls it “Dinner”. There are several other items named similarly. Isaac is also capable of, essentially, selling his soul to the Devil to make it easier for him to defeat his mom. Some of the other endings in the game also hint at how bad Isaac’s life has been. In one ending, Isaac opens up the treasure chest and finds a rope. The next scene, he is found dead, having hanged himself. Even though he’s defeated his mom, the abuse he felt in life was too much to handle. In fact, one of the unlockable bosses in the game is an unborn version of Isaac. Isaac is willing to kill himself before he was born to spare himself the wrath of his mom.

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