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The Binding
of Isaac

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Play OverviewPlay Overview

The Binding of Isaac (2011) is a series of adventure games where you progress through randomly generated rooms, collecting items and fighting off monsters. It's a twist on the simple Zelda dungeon, with hundreds of enemies, room variations and upgrades. The joy is in the variety you meet in repeated attempts to get further with each run. As you battle a myriad of enemies and bosses, an abstract (and darkly comedic) story emerges of misguided faith, obedience and (eventually) mental health, grief, abuse and religious fanaticism.

You play as Isaac, a young boy who finds himself in a story similar to the biblical story of the same name as the game, where Isaac is nearly sacrificed because of a command from God. You escape your potential sacrifice into a labyrinthine basement where your battle begins. It's intentionally hard and you will die often. You only have one life but when your run is over you simply try again. Each time you do the game changes the layout, enemies and boss locations to keep things interesting.

As you traverse the rooms you encounter a huge number of different enemies and use wildly varied and often absurd weapons to defeat them. One stick controls your direction while the other determines which way you are shooting. It's a simple scheme that requires considerable skill to master. Other items you collect can help you upgrade your stats, while keys and coins can be exchanged for valuable goods. You can also unlock 14 other characters to play as.

Although the Binding of Isaac looks simple, it's a considerable challenge. Combine this with its unique branching story, deep themes and different endings and you have an unusual game. It's an unconventional (and often bizarre) way to tell a story about mental health, abuse, grief and obedience, but is effective and sharing the sense of vulnerability young Isaac experiences.

Our examiner, Ben Kendall, first checked The Binding of Isaac 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Ellen Robertson and updated 2 weeks ago.
Kids not old enough for this yet? There are lots of games similar to The Binding of Isaac (Series). Here are some similar younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Shooting and Traversal game with Action, Collecting, Narrative and Role-Play elements. You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online. Multiplayer has evolved over the different versions of the game:
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth: 2 player co-operative play. One player is Isaac, while another spawns in as a random baby helper.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth: 4 player co-operative play. One player is Isaac, while up to 3 others take control of babies that do half of the damage of Isaac, only have one heart container but can fly.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Repentance: Coop can be played with multiple, separate characters instead of only babies that have only one heart. 4 player co-operative play. Each player has full controls.

 
You can play this game in the following styles:

DurationDuration

Play Time: This game will take between 5 hours and 30 hours to complete. Due to the random generation and elements of the game, the time to beat can vary quite significantly. Additionally, if you have less experience in the genre you may need to practice and retry levels to increase your character's combat ability before you can progress.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

Rated PEGI 16 for frequent, Moderate Violence and use of Illegal Drugs. Representative blood effects are visible, but the illustrative style is somewhat unrealistic and indistinguishable as 'real' people. Isaac employs a blob-like weapon and bombs to destroy his enemies and gains power ups and extra lives as he progresses through a series of rooms. The game also depicts the main character using a syringe containing 'Speed Ball' in order to increase his speed and rate of fire. 'Speed Ball' is a known illegal drug in the UK containing a mixture of cocaine and heroin/morphine.

CostsCosts

The Binding of Isaac usually costs £3.99 to £49.99.
 

The Binding Of Isaac: Afterbirth+

Switch Store Switch £35.99

The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth

XBox Store Xbox One £11.99
PlayStation Store PS4 £11.99
Switch Store Wii U £13.49 Unavailable On Digital Store

The Binding Of Isaac: Repentance

XBox Store Xbox One £49.99
PlayStation Store PS5 £49.99
PlayStation Store PS4 £15.99
Switch Store Switch £17.99

The Binding of Isaac

Steam Store PC £3.99
Steam Store Mac £3.99

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Steam Store PC £10.99
Steam Store Mac £10.99
There are the following additional costs associated with this game:
  • In-Game Purchases: Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.
 
The original game features an extra content pack called "The Wrath of the Lamb" which continues the story and features new bosses, items, rooms and other new features such as trinkets and challenges. There is also a free piece of content available: Eternal edition, which adds a few new bosses and items.

The second game, Rebirth, features 3 premium pieces of add-on content: Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ continue the story and as add new items. The final one, Repentance, concludes the story and adds even more content. To have the later extra content you'll need to have purchased the previous pieces, so for Repentance, you'll need Afterbirth and Afterbirth+, and for Afterbirth+ you need Afterbirth. Because of the way they continue the story, they are, in a way, an essential part of the game. 
 
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DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 28/09/2011, updated in 2021

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, PS5, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One

Players: 1-4

Genres: Shooting, Traversal (Action, Collecting, Narrative and Role-Play)

Accessibility: 22 features

Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels

Developer: Edmund Mc Millen (@EdmundMcMillen)


Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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