Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Binding of Isaac

How a killer Christian shmup roguelike came to Steam

10:30 AM on 07.21.2011 // Jonathan Holmes

Imagine you've just spent the past two years of your life working on a videogame. You've sacrificed your money, your time, your physical health (to the point where you've ended up in the hospital at least once) and your sanity to make this game a reality. If it fails, you've sent yourself and your family into potential financial ruin, not to mention your career and your life.

Then the game comes out. It's a critical success, getting 9s and 10s from major outlets. Then the sales start coming in, and you're overwhelmed with the realization that all the hard work was worth it, and that you're definitely not going to starve to death any time soon.

After fighting so hard, putting so much on the line, and finally getting to the end of that long road, what do you do with yourself? Where do you go from there?

If you're Edmund McMillen, you immediately start making a videogame about abused children -- based on the four classes of Dungeons and Dragons -- fighting through a seemingly endless tribute to the original Legend of Zelda, working their way toward a life-or-death showdown with (who else?) their own mother.

In case you haven't been keeping up, The Binding of Isaac is the game we're talking about here. I recently got to catch up with McMillen about the development of the game, and its connections to Tom Hanks, Satanism, and other magical things. Here's the first half of this (probably) two-part interview:

How long have you been working on The Binding of Isaac, and what aspects of development are you solely responsible for?

We have been working on it for about two months -- probably three full months of development total when it's done. I handle design, art, and story; Florian's on the code but also helps out with design.

How does it feel to be working on a game that's less difficult to develop and less financially risky, now that you've worked so hard on, and (hopefully) reaped such great financial rewards from, Super Meat Boy?

It feels great. I actually started Isaac when Tommy [the other half of Team Meat, creators of Super Meat Boy] went on a vacation, because I felt like working on a small prototype would be a bit of a vacation for me. Turns out, neither of our vacations turned into what we expected, but either way, a small-scale project where you don't have to deal with business people and marketing is a hell of a lot more relaxing, and overall, more fun. Isaac originally started as a "game in a week" but ballooned into this little monster. It's also a way for me to prototype some design ideas for the next Team Meat game.

I've read that The Binding of Issac is about a little naked boy who, after being trapped and ritualistically tortured by his mother, escapes from the basement of their family home in order to kill her, before she kills him first. Is that about right?

Yeah, that is about right, but the abuse isn't ritual abuse. His mom is a Christian.

I've also heard that the game was influenced by both religious fanaticism, and the scare tactics from the 1980s that tried to link heavy metal, Dungeons and Dragons, and videogames to violent symptoms of mental illness and Satanism. Please tell me I heard that correctly, and elaborate as you see fit.

It's hard to elaborate on it, but yes, the majority of themes in Isaac were inspired by '80s Christian-right scare tactics and all that weird Satanic cult mass hysteria. I'm not sure how much of it will translate to everyone playing, but it for sure was the main inspiration for the game's theme.

Is it true that out of the four currently planned selectable characters in the game, that the puffy-haired one is based off of Tom Hanks' character from Mazes and Monsters?

Just looked that up, and it looks awesome. But no. The unlockable characters in Isaac were all inspired by the four main classes in Dungeons and Dragons and the four suits of the tarot.


That's it for today! Tune in tomorrow, when McMillen shares more about The Binding of Issac's difficulty curve, its ties to the Legend of Zelda series, and much more.

Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Binding of Isaac

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Things I'm Thankful For

Cblogs of 11/25/15 + Turkey N Stuff

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 73: Stay Classy

NVGR: Updated Album "ADBC" (No longer an EP)

Fun2Play: Downwell

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th November - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Don't forget [img][/img]
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
I wonder how far the show would be taken out of context if the lyrics were "Go, Go Power Rangers, you Mighty Morphine Power Rangers."
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I just tried out Skyforge, and... [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Is it weird I finally want a Samurai Warriors game because I think Koshosho is super fab? [img][/img]
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
I've never cleaned my comp in the 3-4 years I have had it. Soon I will dust it. I....I dont know what I will find, hidden in the dust.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Happy late thanksgiving Dtoid. I played Doodle God and Murasaki Baby on PSVita, and am now Achievement grinding in Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast and Furious on Xbox One. Super easy 1000G, I need it.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Black Friday pick ups so far are Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, Titan Souls and tomorrow Devil Survivor 2 Break Record ($29.99 at GameStop).
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
This thanksgiving, give thanks for the fact that your family wasnt 1 of the 3 to have picked out a wasp filled turkey, buying a meal and becoming a meal. Next year, may not bring such.....dissapointing results.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So I'm pretty sure you all should be giving thanks to Nekro. For he is the one true perfect being. Be thankful that your lives have been blessed by the addition of a Nekro. For that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Happy Thanksgiving Dtoid! Here's hoping you didn't fall off a chair while hanging Christmas lights and bash your shin and foot into the concrete like I did!
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
Listening to Pokémon SoulSilver OST while doing some college work. Suddenly I feel a great amount of guilty taking over me for loosing my PokéWalker 2 years ago... :(
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Ok you thanksgiving motherfuckers. 5 favourite Arcade games (as in coin-op) No order necessary. Go!
Lawman avatarLawman
Happy Turkeygeddon everyone! I'd like to spend it playing something, but I'm too busy drinking instead. Alcohol is better. Alcohol mixed with games is best, but unfortunately, I'm a little too lost to the world for that right now!
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I've got to try Pocket God vs. Desert Ashes. Mostly because I loved pocket god when it came out. Great memories
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I intended to say something important and relevant to how pretty Atelier Shallie Plus looks on the Vita but then I got this annoying sudden nosebleed [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Time for Thanksgiving dinner, then more Shantae! [img][/img]
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
So Macy's parade had that performance from "The Wiz" which made me realize I'd much rather have seen "The Wizard" where everyone is dancing around wearing power gloves. Come on Nintendo, THE TIME IS NOW!
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Happy #Darksiders2 day-I mean Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Shinta avatarShinta
Transformers Devastation PS4 - $24. The Order 1886 $10. Digital flash sale on PSN. I think I'm going to have to bite on both these. And I hate digital if I can avoid it ...
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Remember folks, don't forget to smoke cigarettes in between courses during thanksgiving to help in digestion.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -