First impression: Binding of Issac – Afterbirth

binding of issac afterbirth pic

For many people, The Binding of Issac is a very welcome to return to the genre of top-view 2d survival games that were a staple of many old school games like Contra and Smash TV. “Rebirth” brought new life to the game, adding in a ton of new items, challenges and quality of life changes that improved the game overall. “Afterbirth” continues that tradition, the trailer (for those who haven’t seen it) fits in perfectly with the macabre story and endings you could collect in Rebirth.

This expansion like Rebirth before it brings a plethora of new items, enemies, music tracks and challenges to the forefront, a new ending, an additional unlockable character Lilith, as well as introducing 2 new game modes: Greed Mode and Daily Challenges.

Bread and Butter

When it comes to the gameplay changes, not much has been made at first glance, save for the optimization of framerate for lower end computers. Controls remain the same, but several new graphical options have been added such as an additional HUD to show which passive pickups you’ve found and a gamma slider option. You also have the ability to transfer over your Rebirth save data so that you don’t have to start over from scratch.

Sweet Tones of Misery

The new soundtrack adds a new feel to the game, especially when you first enter the new rooms. The best example of this is when you first enter the “Burning Basement” area, the music sets an ominous tone, making you feel as if everything around you is falling apart at the seams, or in this case, the foundation of the house.

Tricks and Treats

But let’s get to the meat of the game, why you got it in the first place: All the extra goodies and content. The game boasts about having a plethora of new items and it’s not joking about that. Thanks to the game’s design, these new items appear at random just as they did when you first start, and just like when you first started it’s always a very welcome and satisfying feeling to pick up one of these new items, such as the one that causes your tears to reflect off of walls because not only does it cause tears to reflect off of walls, but it works with the lasers too!

Lillith is an interesting character to play as: She’s been blindfolded/eyes cut out and bandaged so she can’t use tears from her eyes. She instead has a pet named Incubus and a Box of Friends that allows you to have double the amount of pets you’re carrying, essentially making this into a Gradius-type of game once you unlock her. Speaking of how to unlock her…

Greed is Good. Or Bad. Or Something.

The new modes Daily Challenge and Greed Mode are another welcome addition to Binding of Issac. Daily Challenge is self-explanatory: You enter the game as a random character with (sometimes) random items and compete globally to see who can get the highest score. It’s instantly gratifying to see this kind of arcade style competition return, especially for completionists who just HAVE to be at the top of the scoreboard.

The new Greed Mode, on the other hand, is a different animal altogether. You start out in a small room with some of the bonus rooms available to you, and like the normal game you must get through all the rooms and reach the final boss without dying, only this time you must go through an arena-survival type of setting in order to get the money needed to buy items. It also shows no mercy as even the first level can spawn a horde of enemies that you have to defeat within a time limit before you become overwhelmed by more incoming masses. Without spoiling too much, the boss is an insane pain in the ass if you haven’t picked up the right combination of items. It’s a good challenge, but you’ll need a great amount of luck if all you picked up was movement speed bonuses and no attack speed/damage boosters.

As a Halloween release this expansion serves as a great example of what a DLC and expansion pack item should do: Give you literally dozens of hours of added gameplay (as of right now I have only found 3 of the proposed new items, so it’s going to be a while) and refreshing the entire experience of the game. So if you’ve got $11 to spare, or $20 if you’re just barely now finding out about this gem of a game, head over to the Steam store and get yourself bound to Issac!

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Jaymes Romero
Jaymes Romero 239 posts

What do you say to describe a guy who only sleeps 4 days out of the week? Probably a lot but if you ever see an obscure story about some kind of food product, indie game or something that doesn't quite fit on this site, you can (almost) guarantee this guy wrote it. Whether or not he was awake while it was written is anybody's guess.