Review: The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is an odd game. From the moment you start playing the game, it proves to be fairly confusing, pretty gross, unfair at times, and really difficult. But for some reason, you really can’t stop playing, and eventually things start to slowly fall into place.

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is the culmination of the Binding of Isaac releases and DLC, reaching back to 2011, when the game was originally released as a Flash-based game before being re-tooled and launched for PC and consoles as The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. A roguelike randomly generated dungeon crawler mixed with action elements, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is one of those games that you either win it all or lose and start from almost zero experiences. The style of play lends itself well to both quick or long play sessions, and it is something you can come back to weeks, months, or even years after release.

The gameplay is simple, tight, and responsive. You control Isaac (or one of a host of unlockable characters) as you crawl through rooms backed with enemies, bosses, environmental hazards, and bits of randomness that are hard to categorize. Item drops provide stat buffs or debuffs, changes to your primary attack, or help you make progress towards unlocking alternate characters for play. From the start of each run, Isaac controls as a standard twin-stick shooter with items mixing things up as you go deeper into each run.

The presentation is a bit strange here. The Binding of Isaac series is bloody, grotesque, often times juvenile, but has some interesting themes and symbols to investigate. It makes for a gameplay experience that is truly unique, and you really feel motivated to keep playing the game to see what sort of oddity pops up next. Graphics and sounds are simple, but they fit the theme and style well.

I find it hard to describe this game, it’s really something you need to experience to really get a feel for what’s going on and why it’s so addictive. And that’s really the biggest strength of The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+…it’s incredibly addictive. Some attempts will see you crashing and burning early, other runs will see you going deep, and on occasion you’ll make it to the end. However the run goes, it’s tough not to jump right back in again afterwards. The draw to unlock characters, to see the game’s different bosses, and to try different ways to approach the game in unique ways will keep the game in your play rotation for a long while.

Whether you’re grabbing the game on PC or one of the consoles, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ is a solid value and a challenge for even the most experienced gamers.