By Reece M. Krantz ’16
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
9 out of 10
Strange video games exist, from those that have you shoot aliens to full blown Medieval feudal system simulators.
Perhaps one of the most imaginative and disturbing games this year is the “Binding of Isaac: Rebirth,” a remake of another game with the same namesake.
While there is no story per say, it does follow the rudimentary but effective plot of Isaac, a child whose mother hears the word of God and is convinced to murder her son.
Isaac escapes to the basement, where you enter the game.
It can be described as twin-stick shooter with “rouge like” mechanics.
A “rouge like” is classified when the game’s core mechanic involves a permadeath system: once you die that’s it, game over.
Because of this system, “Rebirth” is extremely difficult, and that is one of its strengths. Its difficulty is more tied to your skill level than the actual game’s setting, making your accomplishments much more satisfying because you achieved by learning.
“Rebirth” carries a unique theme of religion and Christianity; a lot of the enemies and items you face are inspired from biblical stories.
In fact, the four horsemen of the apocalypse appear as bosses, all activated by using “The Book of Revelations.”
While the theme is presented in a religious style, the art reflected is more twisted and rather satanic pixel-art crafts.
The monsters are horrific, from maggots and zombies that explode into gore after they die to literally fighting Satan as he shoots beams of blood and bombs at you.
It appropriately gives a disturbing atmosphere, where there is not just a sense of danger but of excitement and wanderlust for the new and unexpected, and the best part is that it’s all driven by the player.
While most of your success and failures can be attributed towards your finesse, there is an element of luck.
For example, as you progress through the game you get “treasure rooms” and “shops,”both provide items and goodies that typically give you the edge.
That is typically, a lot of items have negative side effects to complement the buff you initially receive. One of my favorite examples that I have seen from the game occurs from the comically named item “Soy Milk.”
This is interesting as it maxes out your fire rate, which is an objective positive, but in turn takes away almost all your damage. Essentially you become a low powered mini-gun.
The game takes this amount of ridiculousness further and offers literally millions of different synergies. From projectile effects like poison to fear, freezing, confusion and many more.
To use this with my “Soy Milk” situation, along with some other trivial items, I received an item called Polyphemus.
It is obviously in reference to the the one-eyed giant described famously in Homer’s “Odyssey” and as you might guess gives you massive, high-powered tears as projectiles.
This along with effect of “Soy Milk” practically gave me what I needed to win.
A perfect example of luck and synergy. This is not always the case though. Sometimes you can get items that ruin a synergy and destroy your run with bad luck.
But in the end, that’s one of the main draws to “Rebirth” as a title, along with its unique art style and theme: its randomness makes it addictive and deep experience.