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The Binding of Isaac

Fighting games and roguelikes are my personal school of hard knocks

May 26 // Nic Rowen
Titles like The Binding of Isaac, FTL, Nuclear Throne and (my latest obsession) Darkest Dungeon make it their business to stymie and frustrate your futile attempts to get to the credits screen. They delight in throwing a wrench into the works, tearing apart promising looking runs or dungeon crawls with a few merciless rolls of the RNG. They move around the win conditions and goalposts from the traditional idea of “I gotta get to the end and dunk on the last boss!” to “oh God, please just let me survive a little longer this time.” Victory isn't just marked by, well, victory, but by discovery and learning. Seeing a new enemy, figuring out a new trick or strategy, and learning to avoid whatever awful thing killed you last time. Those small successes are what dubs a run a win. It's tough to turn that switch that demands progression off in your brain. It has been dutifully conditioned by years of games where victory is the expected outcome. But it's those wild unfair swings in a roguelike that completely mess you up that makes them so satisfying. The emotional roller-coaster of suddenly losing a beloved party member, or picking up an item that completely gimps your current build, or getting screwed by a few unlucky rolls that leave you facing almost certain doom. These factors that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to come up with new strategies broaden your horizons, you have to think about the game and really consider all of your options rather than relying on one or two recipes for success. Those runs that truly are hopeless? Well, they just let you appreciate the good ones a little more. It took me a long time to realize it, but fighting games are much the same when you get right down to it. While you always want to win a fight, just adding more notches to your W/L ratio isn't, and shouldn't be, the goal. What you really should be aiming for is learning. When Street Fighter IV came out, I was very hot-to-trot for some online play. I remembered dominating at SFII in grade school, all the hours I sunk into collecting every ending in Alpha 3 on the PS1, the times I used to rush through Marvel Super Heroes on one quarter in the arcade. I thought I was good at fighting games, and was looking forward to a chance to prove it. I swagged online like I was O'Hara from Enter the Dragon, obnoxiously breaking boards in front of Bruce Lee like it meant something. My fights ended up going about as well as his did -- Boards, and CPU opponents, don't hit back like the real deal. [embed]292757:58670:0[/embed] I'll be completely honest, I almost quit playing fighting games at that point. Nobody likes to lose, especially when you're losing at something that used to be a point of pride for yourself. Thankfully, despite its rough and tumble exterior, the fighting game community actually has a great attitude about these things. EVERYBODY loses. It's what you take away from those losses and how you come back from them that defines you as a player. Shortly after SFIV came out, I was introduced to David Sirlin's Playing to Win, a book that is all about the philosophy of fighting games and is as close to a bible for the fighting game community that exists. I remember when I first read it I distinctly thought “this guy is an asshole.” Playing to Win can be a very abrasive read if you come from a background of playing fighting games for fun. If you ever thought your next door neighbor was cheap for constantly sweeping in Mortal Kombat 2, or angrily called someone a “spammer” for repeatedly tossing out fireballs from across the screen, or think there is such as thing as too many throws in one round (a philosophy I can no longer recognize except in direct reverse), Sirlin's opinions will probably rub you the wrong way. These self-imposed rules and ideas about how the game should be played are the foundation for what he considers a “scrub mentality,” a mental framework that will always limit how far you can go in fighting games, and ultimately, how much joy you can derive from them. Embarrassingly, I saw a lot of that “scrub mentality” in myself. The way I'd get angry at “coward” Guile players for tossing endless sonic booms, or frustrated with people constantly choosing the blatantly over-powered emperor of Muay Thai, Sagat, for easy wins. But when you stop looking at what other players are doing as “cheap,” and start looking at your losses as learning experiences rather than straight out defeats, a lot of that frustration evaporates. It takes real effort and time, but when you internalize that outlook, fighting games become less stressful, more enjoyable, and infinitely more beautiful. Of course people are going to throw sonic booms as Guile, he's a machine made by the Air Force to do exactly that. It may be true that Sagat (or whatever character) is over-powered and easier to win with and disproportionally popular as a result, but how can you blame people for making a choice that will tip the odds in their favor? You have that choice and opportunity too, and if you decide to stick with a different character you'll just have to make peace with the fact that you'll run into tough matches and try and develop a strategy to deal with them. You can either get frustrated, stomp around, and quit/uninstall the game forever, or you can thicken your skin. Learn how to roll with the punches, and take something away from the mistake. Either figure out ways to avoid it in the future, or come to peace with the idea that sometimes things are out of your control. These are not new concepts, ideally we should always be trying to find the positive side to a set-back or learn from a mistake. But to me, at least, nothing else crystallizes the idea of learning from a loss into a rock hard truth than pitiless rougelikes and fighting games. And after spending so many years immersed in both genres, I like to think that I've been able to take those lessons and apply them to other areas of my life. It's not always easy, and I won't claim to be some kind of Zen master who never gets frustrated, but I know I'm definitely a more patient person now than I was five years ago.
Learning from failure photo
Learning from my (many) failures
The last few years of games for me have been all about defeat. Constant, unending, expected defeat. I think I'm better for it. It wasn't always like that. In fact, for most of my life, games have been all about completion, vi...

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth photo
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Edmund McMillen wants to improve The Lost in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Plus some new Afterbirth content
May 05
// Ben Davis
In this week's update for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Edmund McMillen publicly acknowledged the existence of the super secret character, The Lost, and announced that he'd like to alter the character in a way that would bal...
Isaac Eternal Edition photo
Isaac Eternal Edition

Binding of Isaac: Eternal Edition update is a free helping of torment

The Devil's in the patch notes
May 03
// Nic Rowen
A free update for the original Binding of Isaac has been released today for anyone who has the Wrath of the Lamb expansion. The new Eternal Edition will let you relive all of the glory of the original game's choppy flash base...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

Check out The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth on the Wii U GamePad

23 glorious seconds
Apr 29
// Zack Furniss
When The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth came out last November, I got sucked back into the dark, dank basement full of doo-doo for a good two months. This video of Isaac on a Wii U GamePad is enough to get me thirs...
Afterbirth update photo
Afterbirth update

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth expansion to feature new transformations, ruin my life

Norman Bates chic
Apr 28
// Nic Rowen
Well I'm doomed. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth expansion, Afterbirth, is going to include a whopping eight new transformations to discover, experiment with, and obsess over. I'm already addicted to transforming into Guppy the...

Faith in gaming: The influence of Christianity in videogames

Mar 29 // Ben Davis
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron My favorite game to tackle Judeo-Christian themes is definitely El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. The story is inspired by the Book of Enoch, and follows Enoch on his quest to find the fallen angels and prevent a great flood from destroying mankind. He is aided by four Archangels (Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael), as well as Lucifel, who is commanded by God and is constantly communicating with him via cellphone. El Shaddai is all about style, and it really showcases the beauty of religion through its story, music, and artwork. Much of the soundtrack consists of choir vocals and heavenly melodies; it's one of the best videogame soundtracks I've heard. The artwork is equally beautiful, with surreal, heaven-like landscapes and breathtaking stained glass-inspired visuals. It's really an incredible game to experience, and I wish more games would try to tackle religious stories in a similar manner. The Bible and other religious texts contain many bizarre and exciting stories which would be perfect for videogames, and not just those cheesy Bible Adventures types of games. Shin Megami Tensei series The Shin Megami Tensei series takes inspiration from all kinds of religions and mythologies, one of the most prominent of which is Christianity. Many of the demons and personas that can be fought and/or summoned in the series are taken directly from the Bible and other Judeo-Christian sources, but given their own unique designs to fit in with the SMT universe. There's the big guys, like Satan, Lucifer, and Helel (all separate entities in SMT games); the archangels Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in the form of White Rider, Red Rider, Black Rider, and Pale Rider; the many spheres of the angelic hierarchy with Angel, Archangel, Principality, Power, Virtue, Dominion, and Throne; and plenty of other personalities. Many of the games contain a compendium, which allows players to learn about where these characters come from in Judeo-Christian folklore. Christianity takes a larger role in the plots of some Shin Megami Tensei games than others. In Nocturne, for example, Lucifer introduces the main character to powers known as Magatama, turning him into a Demi-Fiend. The player can choose to help Lucifer in order to learn more about his true identity, but a God-like figure known as Kagutsuchi will occasionally try to interfere and steer the player away. The final boss of Nocturne actually turns out to be Kagutsuchi himself, essentially leading player to defeating the Shin Megami Tensei universe's version of God. Sure, it's rather blasphemous, but it's all in good fun. It's clear that the series holds a deep appreciation of all religions, Christianity included, based on the character design and influences. I actually learned a lot about Judeo-Christian folklore by reading up on all the different demons and personas; it was honestly a joy to learn about each new character. Dragon Quest series One thing that always stood out to me about the Dragon Quest games was their emphasis on churches. Most of the Dragon Quest games, save for the first game and some of the spin-off titles, have featured churches which serve a very important purpose. Of course, Christianity isn't really a religion in the world of Dragon Quest. They have their own fictional religions, but it's obvious that the churches are inspired by real religions such as Christianity. The churches of Dragon Quest mainly serve as a save function. The player must make a Confession to the pastor, who will record all of the player's deeds, thus saving the game. Churches also offer Resurrection, which revives fallen allies; Benediction, which removes curses; Purification, which removes poison; and Divination, which reveals the amount of experience points necessary to reach the next level. Players will be visiting church quite often. I guess the reason this always stood out to me was because I had never seen such an obvious reference to religion in a game before playing Dragon Quest, or at least to the type of religion I grew up with. It's kind of strange, given how prominent and influential religion is in real life. I mean, there's plenty of mythological religion in videogames, like the goddesses of The Legend of Zelda and the powerful demigods of Final Fantasy. But seeing something as simple as a church in Dragon Quest, something religious that I could actually relate to, really left an impression on me. The Binding of Isaac Some may see The Binding of Isaac as an anti-Christian game. The story revolves around a boy named Isaac and his mother, who hears the voice of God telling her to kill her son, and so Isaac flees to the basement to escape his mother's wrath. It's pretty clear that the story decries the type of extremist Christians who try to use the Bible for their own personal benefit at the expense of others, but there's also an appreciation for religion there which is quite apparent when you look at all the items, enemies, and characters in the game. All of the characters are based on Biblical figures; you can play as Isaac, Magdalene, Cain, Judas, Eve, Samson, Lazarus, Azazel, and Eden (which is more of a location in the Bible, but still). Many of the bosses in the game are also based in Christianity, such as the Seven Deadly Sins, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Uriel, Gabriel, and even Satan himself. The game is also bursting with religious items. While Isaac can become demonic and powerful if he picks up certain things, many of the best items in the game are actually holy relics based in Christianity. For example, if he finds an Angel Room, he's pretty much guaranteed to get something helpful: a Guardian Angel, Holy Water, a Rosary, a Mitre, a Scapular, a Halo, a Communion Wafer, and more. Holy items usually offer protection over power, but in a game like Isaac with enemies crawling all over the place, they are extremely useful. Isaac can also find the Bible, a reusable item which grants flight, allowing him to fly over any obstacle. He can also use it against Mom to give her a taste of her own medicine, which instantly defeats her, although it will destroy Isaac himself if he tries to use it against Satan. I think The Binding of Isaac attempts to be a conversation about religion. There's nothing truly anti-Christian in the game, and in fact there's a lot of stuff in there where Christianity is helpful and comforting. But it's also not afraid to point out some of the more problematic aspects of religion as well. It's an important conversation to have, so it's nice to see videogames trying to tackle the subject. Bayonetta series Bayonetta may be about witches with stiletto guns and crazy hair-based powers, but the story also takes a lot of inspiration from Dante's Divine Comedy, which represents medieval interpretations of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, based on the views of Roman Catholicism. In the Bayonetta series, the titular heroine travels through the worlds of Purgatorio, Paradiso, and Inferno, fighting angels of the various spheres of angelical hierarchy as well as the demons of Inferno. The angels are particularly great. I love their over-the-top holy designs, complete with feathery white wings, halos, gold plating, and everything you would expect to see from the Roman Catholic version of Heaven. I also enjoy the short cinematics which introduce each new angel, indicating their names and which sphere of the hierarchy they reside in, complete with glorious hymnal music. It may seem unusual to be fighting angels, who are typically the good guys, but it's not as though the game takes itself too seriously. I don't think Christian gamers should feel weird about playing games such as Bayonetta, Shin Megami Tensei, or The Binding of Isaac, not only because these are fictional stories, but also because there is a clear sense of respect for the source material there. These aren't ham-fisted ideas shoved into a game to bash someone's personal philosophies; they're carefully researched religious references used to entertain, educate, and/or spark conversation. These were just a few, but of course there are plenty more examples of Judeo-Christian and Biblical influence in videogames. You'll see it everywhere if you're really looking for it. Games like Darksiders feature characters loosely based on religion, while other games like Dante's Inferno take religious stories a bit more literally. I would honestly like to see more prominent religious themes in videogames, as I think they can make for some really interesting storytelling. And it's not like you have to believe in a certain faith to enjoy such stories, as they usually offer universal advice in their themes. Even if the stories and characters are specific to a certain religion, the themes and lessons expressed can often apply to anyone.
Religion and videogames photo
And God said, 'Let there be games'
Religion is not something that is discussed much when talking about videogames, even though many games often feature religious themes and stories based on religious texts. It's difficult to avoid these things, since religion ...

Isaac shirts photo
Isaac shirts

Bind yourself in Isaac shirts

Show your naked crying boy pride
Mar 22
// Nic Rowen
These Binding of Isaac shirts from combine the terror of Isaac with nostalgic love for Zelda, creating something that is making me reconsider my “no game t-shit” policy. The three new shirts include a...

Binding of Isaac: 10 tips for making The Lost playthrough easier

Feb 28 // Corduroy Turtle
This character, known as 'The Lost', is a ghost. He can fly right off the bat and his stats are all pretty normal except for one tiny, little detail: he has absolutely no health. This means that not only does he die in one hit, but a bunch of the items in the game have no effect on him or will kill him if you try to use them. As you can imagine, the idea of beating the game multiple times with a character who can die from something as small as a fly was not only daunting; it was terrifying. Long story short, I did it. It wasn't easy, it wasn't fun and to be completely honest, I don't recommend it! But if you're like me and you just have to do it, I guess I have some tips for you. These by no means will guarantee your success but hopefully they'll shed a little light on the long, depressing road that lies ahead of you. 1) Do everything else first There's a ton of stuff to do in Rebirth, and almost none of it requires playing as The Lost, so focus on all of that first. Seriously. Enjoy the game. Beat the Cathedral and Sheol paths with every other character on Hard. Complete all of the challenges. Fully upgrade the shop by plopping 999 coins into the donation machine. Unlock every possible thing you can before doing this. Not only will it allow you to get comfortable with the game, but you're going to want every possible item in the mix if/when you decide to tackle this nightmare. 2) The Lost does have some advantages Wait, The Lost isn't a total piece of shit? Well, sort of. As I mentioned earlier, he can fly, which is a huge help. This allows you to grab any items you can see on-screen without worrying about spikes, pits or rocks that would normally block your path. You're going to want every bomb, key and chest you can get your hands on so this is huge. You also won't have to worry about the damaging effects of "creep," which is the poison trail that some enemies leave in their path. This also means that you can "hide" from certain enemies and attacks by hovering over rocks. This tactic is absolutely necessary for survival but just keep in mind that there are enemies that can also fly, and there are plenty of attacks that are unaffected by rocks, so you're by no means invinsible. A somewhat pleasant side effect of having no health is it grants The Lost free admittance to all Challenge Rooms. Though they can be a huge risk, Challenge Rooms can have free items inside which are always nice. Plus, if you're carring a card or pill that allows you to teleport, you can grab the free stuff and immediate get the fuck out of there without having to survive the impending battle. However, the biggest advantage The Lost has over the other characters is that he gets free Deals with the Devil. Devil Rooms will sometimes open up after boss fights and usually you have to sacrifice precious health to gain the items inside. But since The Lost literally has no health, everything is free! There are some really great Devil-exclusive items so grab what you can. Damage ups are a definite. Items that cause fear are also nice. Just be careful and remember that not all Devil items are helpful. The Razor Blade actually hurts you when activated, which will obviously kill you before you can enjoy the increased damage. The Dark Bum, who is normally a welcome addition to any run since he can spawn soul hearts, offers no help to The Lost. In fact, since there's a chance he could spawn a enemy spider instead, he's actually a huge liability. Trust me. 3) Play on Hard at all times Here's the thing: most of The Lost's items can be unlocked by beating the various end-game bosses on Normal. BUT, if you truly want to unlock every item in the game, you need to realize that one of those items is called Godhead and it requires that you beat all end-game bosses with all playable characters... on Hard. Since you definitely won't want to play as The Lost any more than you have to (trust me), you might as well knock out Hard mode right from the start. It's not as bad as you think. Playing as The Lost is already hard as fuck so you probably won't notice anyway. 4) Be wary of champion enemies Since you'll presumably be playing on Hard, champion enemies will be more common. More often than not, these guys will have more health, as well as added quirk that can really be a pain in certain situations. Dark teal enemies will explode upon death, but light blue ones release an 8-way tear shot when killed. These two version have killed me countless times so it's good to keep your eye out for them so you can act accordingly. 5) Abuse the donation machine If you followed my earlier tip of donating 999 coins to the Donation Machine, you can thank me now. Not only do fully upgraded shops offer more items to choose from, but certain extremely helpful items will only spawn in fully upgraded shops. Also, you can use the Donation Machine as an ATM when you're low on cash, as long as you have the bombs necesssary to make a withdrawl. I used this tactic so often that my savings went from 999 coins down to a measly 22 cents by the time I finally completed my Lost playthroughs. Not going to lie, I was scared. Anyway, here are a few shop-exclusive items that can help you out big time: Black Candle - A passive item that prevents/removes curses for the rest of that run. Some curses cast darkness over entire levels, hide the map, or even disguise items as question marks until you pick them up. Since these happen randomly and are always a pain in the butt, the opportunity to avoid them completely is lovely. The Candle, Red Candle - These are space bar items that can do massive damage if your aim is true. They also recharge every few seconds which means you can use them multiple times per room. They absolutely chew through bosses. Stop Watch - A passive item that slows down all enemies in every single room. Need I say more? This obviously gives you more time to react to certain attacks but also slows down and shortens the range of enemy projectiles. It's somewhat rare but one of the best items in the game. There's also a Broken Watch item that sometimes grants the same effect, but also has the chance of actually speeding up the enemies in a room. Yikes. Maybe think twice before picking that one up. Blank Card - A space bar item that mimics the effect of any card or rune you are currently holding. Though I wouldn't recommend this 100% of the time, it can be amazingly powerful under certain conditions. For example, if you're holding the Chaos Card, you now wield a throwable projectile that can kill any boss/enemy in the game immediately, and it recharges every four rooms! Insane. There's Options - This item will let you choose from two items after defeating a boss, instead of being stuck with one. This is sort of a big deal when you consider that a lot of items offered after defeating a boss are just simple health upgrades, which do nothing for The Lost. It's nice to have options. 6) Guppy items are your friend Collecting any combination of three Guppy items will cause you to transform into Guppy himself, which makes you super powerful. As Guppy, you spawn tons of blue flies as you do damage. Not only will blue flies follow you from room to room and kill enemies for you, but their damage scales to your current power level. As you get stronger, so do they. No matter who I'm playing as, I'm always fantasizing about transforming into Guppy. It's awesome. Here are the items: Dead Cat, Guppy's Collar - Extra lives! These are basically necessities when playing as The Lost. No matter how powerful or prepared you are, certain rooms or difficult bosses will take you by surprise and all it takes is one small mistake to ruin a promising run and send you back to the main menu with nothing. You'll want the insurance of a few extra lives to save your ass in a crisis. Guppy's Head - A space bar item that spawns two to four blue flies per room. It's far from being the best space bar item but if you have nothing else in that slot, it's certainly nice to have. An important sidenote is that it counts as one of the three Guppy items needed for the transformation regardless if you keep it on you or not. Just picking it up once is good enough. Nice. Guppy's Tail - Drastically increases the number of red chests you come across, thus greatly improving your chances of seeing other Guppy-related items. The Left Hand trinket does sort of the same thing. Red chests can be risky, since they can also have troll bombs or spiders inside but that's just a risk you have to take. Be prepare for anything to jump out! Guppy's Hairball - Arguable the least attractive of all the Guppy items. This lump of wet hair gets flung around your body and can damage enemies, growing in size with each kill. It's more of a distraction than anything, in my opinion but it's not totally useless. It can also sort of block projectiles sometimes. Guppy's Paw - Nope, I was wrong. This one is almost totally worthless. For a character with health, Guppy's Paw can turn one red heart into three soul hearts. Pretty cool. For the Lost, it just gets him one step closer to the Guppy transformation which I guess is just fine. Remember, just like Guppy's Head, you don't have to carry this around forever. Just pick it up and put it right back down if you want to. 7) These can make your life a lot easier Not all items in Rebirth are created equal. In fact, some are stupid good, especially when playing as The Lost. Besides the aforementioned Dead Cat which grants you with nine precious lives, here are a few items that can really take a run from "ok" to "OMG this could be the one." Brimstone - This item turns your tears into a full-screen beam that can clear entire rooms in less than a second. Sure, it needs to be charged fully before it can be shot, but you can negate that a bit by charging it before you enter a room. Plus, it passes through all obstructions which means you can just point and shoot without worrying if things like rocks are in your way. Combine this with Spoon Bender (homing tears) and, holy lord, you don't even know. Daddy Longlegs + Gnawed Leaf - Yeah, I know I said "single-handedly" earlier but if you're lucky enough to stumble upon this combo, you've won the lottery. Daddy Longlegs is really good on his own since he seeks out enemies for you and stomps the shit out of them. But combine that with the protection of Gnawed Leaf, an item that makes you invulnerable as long as you don't move, and you can basically clear rooms by doing nothing at all. I'm going to be honest with you, I've never actually gotten this combo myself, but I've read about it and I'm jealous. Holy Mantle - This passive item negates one hit per room. It doesn't seem like a lot but when that's all it takes to end a run as The Lost, it's a really big deal. I can't tell you how many times I've been hit by a boss mere seconds before I could deliver the final blow. It's heartbreaking. If you come across the Holy Mantle, thank your lucky stars. Mom's Knife - The ultimate killing machine. On its own, it's already a force to be reckoned with, but when you combine it with damage upgrades (like Polyphemus) it has no equal. It absolutely obliterates bosses and can make your life a whole lot easier. It also has the added advantage of doing damage to anything it touches without having to be shot. Obviously you don't want enemies to get that close to you, but if they do, all you gotta do is carefully poke them to death. Trinity Shield - This item protects you from enemy shots in whatever direction you aim it. It makes certain boss battles, like Mom's Heart, a lot less stressful. In all my hours of play, I've only seen it pop up twice, so don't hold your breath for this one. 8) Please don't pick these items up This feels like it should go without saying but, y'know, I'm gonna say it anyway. Certain items are what I call "run killers." Others, while not necessarily the worst thing in the world, will definitely hurt you more than help. To clarify, it's okay (recommended, actually) to pick up any and all space bar items you come across since it will remove them from the pool of items that can show up later. Plus, these can be dropped when you come along something better. What I'm referring to here are passive items which have a permanent effect on your character after being picked up. To do this properly, you're going to need to know what every item looks like, whether they are passive or not, and what their effects are. It's not easy. I've played these games for hundreds of hours and I still get Ipecac (explosive shots) and Chemical Peel (damage increase) confused from time to time. Here are some that I learned through painful trial and error to avoid completely when playing as The Lost. Ankh, Judas' Shadow, Lazarus' Rags - These items cause you to transform into another character upon death, which is bad. For example, if you die and respawn as Lazarus, then go on to complete the game, you obviously won't get credit for beating it as The Lost. Also, don't quote me on this, but I think they can even take priority over the 9-lives item, meaning you would transform into another character and be stuck as them before you start dipping into your extra lives. Bad news. Basically, they offer absolutely no advantage to The Lost so don't pick them up! Ipecac, Fire Mind, Dr. Fetus, Bob's Brain - These are items that change your tears into explosives, or in the case of Fire Mind, cause random explosions. Explosions are powerful but incredibly dangerous. Seeing as how the game is already hard enough when playing as The Lost, why add the constant threat of blowing yourself up? Take my advice and ignore these items. The ONLY situation in which it might be okay to pick one of these up is if you luck out and pick up Pyromaniac beforehand, which makes you immune to explosive damage. Even still, explosions push your character around and could possibly push you into something that could hurt you so,... just don't pick them up. Eve's Mascara, Ludovico Technique, Number One, Soy Milk, Strange Attractor, Tiny Planet - Maybe I shouldn't be lumping these tear modifiers all together but they've all single-handedly ruined decent runs for me in the past. The problem with these items is the disadvantages outweigh any advantages they might offer. Eve's Mascara, for example, increases damage, but slows down your tears so much that it's hard to hit anything. Same with Ludovico Technique, which gives you one massive tear that you can steer around on its own, but very slowly. Tiny Planet is just a total disaster of an item, and Strange Attractor actually makes your tears magnetic, which is terrifying. Maybe you don't hate these as much as I do but you have been warned. Pick these up at your own risk. Bucket of Lard, Tarus - These items reduce your movement speed. Not a great idea since you want to be able to dodge attacks as quickly as possible. Even though Tarus can grant you a few seconds of invincibility after a certain amount of time, it's just not worth the overall decrease in speed. Leo, Thunder Thighs - These items grant you the ability to crush rocks, pots and mushrooms that you come in contact with. Usually, this is a really handy, but as The Lost, this actually removes the ability to hide within those items to avoid damage. On top of that, bomb rocks and some mushrooms can actually cause immediate damage, which will end your run. Not smart. Guillotine, Isaac's Heart - To be completely honest, I avoid these items no matter who I'm playing as. The Guillotine causes your characters head to float around their body, which can make it hard to aim your tears accurately, and also makes it sort of difficult to keep track of where your body is exactly. It's weird. Isaac's Heart makes your character immune to damage (cool...?) but forces you to protect a heart familiar that follows you around. Anything that touches the heart will do damage to you, which will kill The Lost immediately. Definitely not cool. 9) Take your time This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you, besides #10 I suppose. There is no reason to rush so make sure you're taking your time when you play as The Lost. Be patient. Wait for openings. Don't just bum rush everything and hope for the best. I had plenty of promising runs get cut short because I stopped paying attention to the little things and got careless. If you're going to do this thing, you need to be focused the whole time. 10) Don't die Hahaha, yeah, that's not going to happen. You're going to die A LOT. Over and over. It'll feel like there's no hope. Just keep in mind that all it takes is one good run. Well, two if you want to get technical about it. No matter how badly you just did or how close you got, victory could be just around the corner. I had no idea when I picked up Sagittarius (piercing tears) in the first floor of the basement, after hundreds of attempts, that I would be claiming victory in the Dark Room less than an hour later. You really never know. Maybe this collection of tips will help you capture the elusive Godhead item and you too can feel the immense sense of relief wash over you as you realize you'll never have to play as The Lost ever again... ...until Afterbirth comes out, that is. Fuck.
Promoted blog photo
It's still really f*cking hard, though
[Dtoid community blogger Corduroy Turtle offers some strategies for achieving 100% completion in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. What a guy! --Mr Andy Dixon] The concept of difficulty is likely different for everyone. Personal...

Binding of Isaac DLC photo
Binding of Isaac DLC

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth DLC coming this year

Get ready for the Afterbirth
Feb 13
// Ben Davis
Edmund McMillen announced some new details today about the upcoming DLC for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, aptly titled Afterbirth. It looks like it's going to be a HUGE expansion with tons of new content, which Edmund says, ...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

OG Binding of Isaac getting DLC love

Don't go cryin' to your mama
Feb 04
// Robert Summa
I'm not going to lie to you, I've never played the original Binding of Isaac. Hell, I didn't even know there was one separate from The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth that has gotten extensive playtime on my Vita. Well, for those ...
More Binding of Isaac photo
More Binding of Isaac

Fan ideas will make it into The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth's expansion

A new mode will 'almost double the amount of things you can do'
Nov 25
// Jordan Devore
As a fan of The Binding of Isaac, I had lofty expectations for Rebirth and it more than delivered. Problem is, I don't have enough time to play it (and make any real headway). And now there's more content on the way. Like the...
Binding of Isaac photo
Who beats off on paper? Werewolves. That's who.
Max and I started playing The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because it's a good-ass game, and we like to do gaming. Max has actually never played any iteration of Binding of Isaac before, so I let him go first, knowing that I'd only have to wait a few minutes before my turn.

Team Meat photo
Team Meat

Team Meat and Rebirth dev talk about the woes of fans datamining The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

All the secrets have been ruined
Nov 13
// Chris Carter
Recently on a stream called Vinesauce, Edmund McMillen and Tyrone Rodriguez, the original creator of The Binding of Isaac and the guy who lead the Rebirth project respectively talked about datamining. In short, most of t...

Review: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Nov 11 // Nic Rowen
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PC [reviewed], PS4, Vita)Developer: Nicalis Inc, Edmund McMillenPublisher: Nicalis, IncReleased: November 4, 2014MSRP:$14.99 Everything about Binding of Isaac is crazy and feels like it somehow shouldn't exist. But it does, and there is a kind of naughty thrill in that, like getting away with a rude joke at the dinner table. For those unfamiliar with the original, Isaac is a roguelike twin-stick shooter/dungeon crawler where you play as a small naked boy named Isaac, whose mother, believing she has heard the commanding voice of God, is trying to kill him. He desperately flees into the basement where he encounters deadly insects, mutated siblings, and every sort of grotesquery you could care to imagine. He fights them with his tears. Yup. Every run is a new experience, a single chance at heaven or hell. If you die, it's back to scratch. The game is deeply mysterious, featuring no fewer than 16 different ending, at least 8 unlockable alternate characters, 4 bonus levels, and literally hundreds of items to discover, unlock, and experiment with. It's a deep, dark rabbit hole and if you have any kind of completionist streak it will ruin your life (take it from me). Isaac may present itself in the familiar sheep's clothes of a Zelda clone, a fun romp through some old-school top-down action, but that's just the skin-suit pulled tight around the beast. At its heart, Isaac is its own twisted, beautiful monster. The most notable difference between Rebirth and the original Isaac is the shiny new engine and graphical overhaul. The original was made in Flash, giving the game a distinctly smooth and cartoony look, and with no shortage of technical problems to boot. Rebirth ditches Flash (and thankfully all of the bugs and glitches associated with it), dropping the smooth lines for a more detailed, SNES-era pixelated look. More importantly than the faux 16-bit trappings, the new engine allows for a smoother and more stable experience. Where the frame rate of the original would drop through floor like a bowling ball when too many shots or enemies got on the screen, that's no longer an issue. Rebirth runs at a flawless 60 FPS come hell or high water. With the smoother graphics come some gameplay changes. Rebirth is a much more shooty (to use my highly technical vocabulary) game than fans might be used to. The dependable frame rate allows for much more intense fights than the original ever dared to attempt, veering into bullet hell shmup territory on occasion. All of the new bosses introduced in Rebirth (and there are a lot of them) are much faster and aggressive than the old guard, and some of the returning enemies, particularly the final bosses, have been overhauled to be FAR more trigger happy than they used to be. I never thought I'd be happy to run into the likes of Loki or Peep, but I'll take them any day over the new recruits in Satan's army. Thankfully, bullet hell is a knife that cuts both ways. Rebirth does not shy away from crazy item combinations that completely break the game. At one point I had a fully upgraded rate of fire with floating anti-gravity tears mixed with ricocheting rubber cement and a boomerang effect. I would step into a room, hold down the fire button for about a second or two, let go, and watch the entire room be enveloped in tears and instantly eradicate everything. The game might have gotten more difficult, but there are also more items to help turn it around. Along with the other technical advancements, there is more variety in the shape and size of the dungeon chambers in Rebirth. Rooms are no longer limited to the single screen rectangular format they used to be. You will come across long hallways rigged with traps, huge arenas filled with enemies, big multi-screen affairs that will scroll along with Isaac's movement. These massive rooms have hosted some of the most intense moments I've had with Rebirth, the added space allowing for multiple mini-boss battles or elaborate traps. Rebirth includes a small, but delightful, two-player mode. At any time player two can join in as a tiny, floating ghost baby at the cost of one of player-one's heart containers. Ghost baby is definitely second fiddle, unable to plant bombs, walk through doors, or pick up items (no cheating and grabbing something from across a gap), but he will benefit from whatever kind of shot upgrade Isaac has collected. It won't become the new way to play Binding of Isaac any time soon, but having a wingman is loads more fun than it has any right to be. Rounding out the new additions are a few quality of life tweaks. Control pads are now supported on the PC version, and work perfectly fine if that's your preferred style. You can choose between “Normal” and “Hard” modes now, letting you somewhat regulate what brand of insanity you're looking for. Hard mode, of course, hides its own set of exclusive items and enemies, so anyone looking to collect all the goodies should prepare to suffer for the compulsion. Rebirth graciously now allows you to quit mid-way and return later, instead of holding you hostage to a good run. (“I'm going to be late but I have fully powered tears and twelve heart containers! I mean, the divorce rate around here is like 55%, so I can probably get another shot at being my brother's best man, right?”). It is potentially a life-saving addition for the truly possessed. Rebirth surfaces the randomized “seed” of each run, a small series of numbers you can input to generate the same map/item pick-ups. You can replay particularly great runs, near misses, or swap favorable map layouts with friends. This is a shockingly generous addition that seems to run counter to much of the game's otherwise unforgiving and hard-nose posture. It seems so out of place that the idea rankled me. I respect the purity of the one-chance, perma-death run. Watering it down with de facto do-overs cheapened the experience for me faster than fall of the Berlin Wall devalued the Soviet Ruble. As an addict of the first game, my favorite enhancement is also the least consequential, Rebirth is able to visually stack multiple items on Isaac with fewer conflicts than before. It may seem silly, but watching Isaac's strange transformation from a tiny naked boy to a pustulating, winged, blood trailing monster, or failed Siamese twin with a chemical burn, or lipstick wearing cyclops being followed around by the floating head of his dead cat, or whatever, is one of the greatest pleasures in the game to me. My heart always broke a tiny little bit when one item would overwrite another, or just not appear at all. I love just about everything about Rebirth and (if you couldn't already tell) I can't recommend the game enough. But I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the poop. There is a lot of poop in this game, a lot of tasteless dead baby jokes, gross out gags, and weird Christian imagery, all of which might rub some people the wrong way. Personally, I don't mind that stuff and I think the game earns some of it's nastiness (the very core of Isaac is a sad story of child abuse as seen through the eyes of the child experiencing it after all, it's going to be horrifying and juvenile), rather than just being gross for grossness sake. Still, it's going to be a deal breaker for some people. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is hands down the best version of Isaac. It improves upon the original, a fantastic game in its own right, in every conceivable way. If you haven't played Isaac yet, this is the version to get. If you are a fan of the original, these are so many new items, enemies, and experiences to be found in Rebirth that it feels far more like a sequel than a remake. Rebirth is an incredible experience that can't be missed. Descend into the basement, lock the trapdoor behind you, and don't look back.
Rebirth Review photo
The best game you'll ever play about washing poop out of a basement with your tears
In 2011, I lost a chunk of my life. An insidious tendril of addiction, despair, and obsession caught me by the ankle and dragged me into the The Binding of Isaac's darkened basement. I lost dozens of hours, whole days at a ti...

Team Fortress 2 photo
Team Fortress 2

We could've had Binding of Isaac poop hats in Team Fortress 2

Valve went with horns instead
Oct 14
// Jordan Devore
When I clicked on this blog post for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, my eyes went straight to the second image -- specifically, the sobbing Heavy. Love it. Next, they shifted to the Scout wearing a hat that looks like a giant ...
Wii U photo
Wii U

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth teased for Wii U

Smiley face
Oct 07
// Jordan Devore
Fans of The Binding of Isaac have long wanted the game on 3DS and while that'd be great to see one day, I'd be just as happy to to have it on Wii U. Which might actually happen! I know! Nicalis uploaded this video yesterday and that blip at the beginning sure is a Wii U overlay. There's also this Twitter exchange between designer Edmund McMillen and Nicalis' Tyrone Rodriguez. [Via GoNintendo]
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is everything I hoped it'd be

PS Vita owners especially are in for a treat
Sep 08
// Jordan Devore
One of my favorite parts of PAX Prime this year was an appointment with Nicalis. Not only was the meeting away from the crowded, noisy Washington State Convention Center, it was an opportunity to get sucked into The Binding o...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Co-op in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is looking good

A short Let's Play preview from the McMillens
Aug 19
// Jordan Devore
Here's Edmund and Danielle McMillen previewing cooperative play in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth including one of the game's twenty challenges, Head Trauma, in which you have tons of tears spraying all over the place but the...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Replay runs, customize controls in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

PS Vita visuals won't be exactly on par
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
I convinced myself long ago that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was something I needed in my life, so every additional detail or feature we're told about in the lead up to release is just icing on top. This week, customizable ...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth's Jar lets you capture hearts like Link does fairies

Oh my, this game is going to be big
Jul 22
// Brett Makedonski
Some 150 new items are being added to Binding of Isaac for Rebirth, and as the game inches toward completion, Edmund McMillan is dutifully trotting several of them out one at a time to let us know what we can expect. The...
Binding of Isaac Rebirth photo
Binding of Isaac Rebirth

Binding of Isaac Rebirth's developer re-iterates that it will be super large

'Much larger than the original and the expansion put together'
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
We've gotten many hints that Binding of Isaac Rebirth will be a very large game, but a new blog update shines a little more light on what goes into that equation. While the original game and the expansion had 198 items, ...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Here's how co-op works in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

How is babby formed?
Jun 18
// Jordan Devore
We've long known that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth will have an all-new local cooperative feature but here are the specifics, as broken down by designer Edmund McMillen. When the second player presses start, they'll randomly...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

New Binding of Isaac: Rebirth character detailed

Spoilers below
May 27
// Jordan Devore
There are going to be "a few" new playable characters in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth but we'll only hear about one of them pre-release. Eden is a randomly generated character that "isn't a man, nor are they a woman," accord...
Deals photo

You should consider getting Desktop Dungeons at half price

Also, Binding of Isaac and Spec Ops
May 13
// Jordan Devore
My original intention was to inform you that Desktop Dungeons is $7.49 this week on Steam until Friday morning, and that you should play it because it's real good. Hard as hell, but good. That was until I noticed another game...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

More info and screens from Binding of Isaac: Rebirth teased

Definitive details and final build soon
Apr 30
// Chris Carter
Hey, remember when that Binding of Isaac remake was announced forever ago? Well it still exists, and now we're able to see a bit more of what to expect. First off the "Bony" enemy has been teased, which is a pretty simple foe...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth might get a level editor as DLC

If there's demand, which there surely will be
Apr 21
// Jordan Devore
Asked if The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth would have a publicly available level editor, designer Edmund McMillen responded, yeah, that might eventually happen. "The editor won't be in a state to go public so we won't be releasin...
Edmund McMillen photo
Edmund McMillen

Edmund McMillen teases upcoming reveals with a pixel smudge

I bet it has something to do with videogames
Mar 16
// Jonathan Holmes
Edmund McMillen, creator of Binding of Isaac and one half of Team Meat (Mewgenics, Super Meat Boy) is excited and I don't know why. Maybe you can figure it out.  Edmund recently tweeted "the weekend is totally ...
Binding of Isaac photo
Binding of Isaac

Laser-filled The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth .gifs bring me joy

Cryogenic freezing isn't a thing yet, right?
Mar 12
// Jordan Devore
The official Tumblr for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has been rolling out regular, punchy updates for a while now -- lots of blurbs that, while exciting, haven't necessarily been worth a full post here. Being the fan of .gif...
Binding of Issac photo
Binding of Issac

Here's some juicy info on The Binding of Issac Rebirth

Creator Edmund McMillen fills us in on the art style, controller support and more.
Jan 13
// Alasdair Duncan
With all the hullabaloo about Mew-genics, I forgot that Team Meat's Edmund McMillen was still working on the the new The Binding of Issac: Rebirth. Edmund has posted a big Q&A about the game's development that makes me r...

Binding of Isaac remade with graphics made of paper

Doodles come to life in this free fan tribute
Mar 17
// Jonathan Holmes
[Update: The developers of the game just updated the latest build in honor of this post, so check it out] The Binding of Isaac starts out with the drawings of a sad, talented young person. Later, those drawings appear t...

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