The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth PS4 Review

March 8, 2015 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Sony  Developer: Nicalis  Genre: Action  Players: 1-2  Age Rating: 12+

Other console/handheld formats: Vita

I live my life trying to be nice, but there’s no getting away from the fact that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is weird. It also feels kind of wrong to call such a game weird when the protagonist has been through so much suffering. Does that excuse the bizarreness of using his tears as bullets? No, like I said, this is one weird game.

The titular Isaac is a boy with one wicked mother. She’s a Christian who is asked to sacrifice her son to prove her devotion to God by none other than God himself. Armed with a knife, Isaac’s mum enters his room with murder on her mind, and Isaac jumps down a trapdoor into the basement below. As I said Above, this is one weird game, and it just keeps getting weirder.

If you are unfamiliar with the game and are wondering what it is, The Binding of Isaac is an action game with rougelike elements. Down in the depths, Isaac comes face to face with a number of weird monsters, and to deal with them he has what seems to be an unlimited stream of tears to fire at them. There’s bosses to contend with in certain rooms as well, and defeating them will see you move to the next floor (there’s eight in all, and one optional floor). With completion possible within an hour or so, this isn’t a long game, but it certainly can be a very challenging one.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a twin stick shooter in which you can fire up, down, left and right, although you can’t fire diagonally. The tears are affected by your movement, so diagonal shots are sort of possible at times. There are also various pick-ups that can be found through the game, and some of these alter the behaviour of Isaac’s tears, making them stronger, faster, larger, and the like. It’s also possible to find bombs, which can be used against enemies or to blow obstacles up.

Be it the layout of the rooms, the enemies, or the pickups, a lot of random elements can be found here, which means that each play through is different from the last. This unpredictable nature means that the game could still potentially be offering up surprises after you’ve played it for hours and hours. Because of this, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth feels as if it is encouraging you to play it again and again.

The random pick-ups which I mentioned earlier on not only improve Isaac’s tears, but they also make him faster, throw in a little buddy to help you out, improve Isaac’s defence, add more health, and so on.  A nice touch is that some of the pick-ups even alter Isaac cosmetically, and you’ll see some interesting combinations through spending time with the game.

The randomness of the game does mean that it’s pot luck in regard to what pick-ups you’ll come across during each run. On one run you might get a number of pick-ups that prove to be an absolute Godsend to you and help you get deeper into the game, although on another run, you might come across pick-ups that aren’t as useful, so could potentially end up dying a lot sooner because of this. You just never know how each run is going to pan out, but this just makes things all the more enticing.

Once you are dead in The Binding of Isaac, you are dead, and then you have to start from the beginning again with any save files being deleted. Going back to all of the random elements though, and this randomness means that starting again rarely feels repetitive, and I actually found the game to be addictive in the way in which I wanted to go deeper and deeper with each new run. If I died early on, well, I just wanted to go back and try again.

The game also includes a challenge mode, which includes 20 challenges for you to tackle. The challenges are varied and are a nice enough break from the main game. The Pitch Black challenge darkens the rooms down and you are unable to see how much health you have remaining for example. You even start with items during some challenges. All in all, the challenges are fun but not up to the standard of the main game.

For those already familiar with the previous flash versions, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth comes with all the content from those, but it includes loads of new content as well. Which includes 150 new items, 16 additional bosses, mid game save option, a 2 player local multiplayer mode, new playable characters, new rooms, a hard difficulty mode, new endings, and a brand new and charming 16-bit art style.

Twisted, weird, quirky, addictive, and endlessly replayable, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is certainly a memorable experience. The random elements makes each run different from the last, and all the new additions should be enough to attract Isaac veterans, while offering masses of content for those that haven’t played the previous two versions of the game.