Fans of Binding of Isaac can now play the disgustingly charming indie game on the XBOX One. Early in my days of streaming, a regular viewer in my channel recommended the game. At first glance I was somewhat baffled at the popularity of the game, but kept an open mind given it comes from the same brilliant mind that brought us Super Meat Boy. The more details I got about the game, however, the more skeptical I became about the odds of me enjoying it. Dying and having to completely start over has never been that appealing to me, not since Mario on the NES. After just four days with the game I’m ready to admit I was totally wrong in my skepticism.
The mechanic that convinced me to at least give the game a try is that it’s never the same. Levels, item drops, enemies, bosses, and basically anything you interact with are all randomly generated. So even after the sting of death and starting over is fresh, you get a sense of “Let’s go again!” because you might get some great drops and a good start. The bosses and enemies are also random and creative enough that you never feel a sense of monotony, ease, or comfort as they swarm, surprise, or do something you weren’t prepared for. But the randomness is just the beginning of what keeps you playing.
I have spoken about the idea of complexity beneath simplicity before in games like Ori and the Blind Forest. With the Binding of Isaac the complexity isn’t forced on you in the way it is when progressing through a game like Ori. The game does get more challenging in a linear fashion as you advance, beat bosses, and head deeper in the floors below, but things don’t get too complex until you start attempting challenges and different unlocks. So at one level you can just enjoy a random dungeon crawler with creative buffs, items, and enemies, seeing if your strategy, reflexes, and approach can carry you further than before. Beyond that you can decide to unlock more items, different playable characters, and whole hosts of things I’m currently ignorant about.
Proceed with Caution
I keep telling myself that I will reach a point where I’ve played enough or unlocked enough because I consider myself a lite-completionist. But the constant flow of people coming into my stream boasting of massive engagement hours and numerous completed challenges tells me I may be playing a game that can get its hooks in you. So be warned, I’m a skeptic who quickly found the game fun, thrilling, and addicting… proceed with caution.
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