This brutal, unforgiving experience is compounded by the constant pressure of perma-death. With the exception of a few rare items that grant you a second chance, all deaths lead back to the start screen. One little maggot with a tricky attack pattern can be your demise. A simple misplaced bomb can cause a chain reaction leading to your death. A fly you failed to see buzzing up behind you can sap your last bit of health. Hindsight is 20/20 after a particularly stupid mistake. As you stare blankly at the game over screen, dark thoughts of quitting and playing something else may creep into your mind. But your redemption is only a quick character selection away. Next time will be different because, well, it has to be. As long as you treat each death as a learning experience and push forward, you will get better and you will be rewarded...eventually.
If Iím painting too grim a picture, donít worry. Feelings of extreme power and moments of triumph are common too, you just have to work for them. It helps to make intelligent use of your limited resources but of course luck has a lot to do with it too. However, with a little experimentation, you may discover that you have more control over this random world than you previously realized.
Take the bomb, for instance. Itís a weapon, sure. You can place it on the ground and damage enemies within its blast radius. It can also be used to blow up rocks that stand in Isaacís way or destroy slot machines after youíve had your fun with them. It can open a path to secret rooms if you happen to place it along certain walls. It can even create bridges to platforms that seem inaccessible by carefully aiming the debris of an adjacent rock. Point being, there are many uses for this one item that took me many hours to discover. Techniques that I use frequently now were only clear to me after a series of happy accidents.
Keys are also vital to your survival, theyíre just not as versatile. A key is your only ticket into shops and treasure rooms - two of the most common places to upgrade your arsenal. The random nature of the game can often make keys a rare commodity, as I explained in the intro. The game will tempt you with chests and locked barriers, but if you fuck up enough times (like me) youíll eventually train yourself to always keep at least one spare key in your inventory.
Thereís a lot more to talk about (item combinations, enemy strategies, curses, trinkets, etc.) but that may be an entirely different blog. For the time being, just know that I am deeply in love with The Binding of Isaac and I encourage you to try it out if you havenít yet. Itís definitely not for everyone but if youíre looking for a challenge and enjoy a dark, twisted sense of humor, itís brilliant.
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