The success of the original biblical roguelike was bound to lead to more binding.
Edmund McMillen, mad mind behind the The Binding of Isaac is back to create more blood-mottled mayhem. He is supervising developer Nicalis, who have taken on the challenge of remaking his game, fittingly titled, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. It’s due out “late 2013″.
For those that haven’t touched the original game, you play as Isaac, who escapes to the depths of a basement while fleeing his murderous mother’s religious rage. You work your way through procedurally generated dungeon-like environments, facing off against a motley crew of monsters trying to massacre you. Isaac’s tears are your main weapon, followed by a collection of strange items including bombs, matchsticks and your own eye pulled out and used as an impromptu sentry device. The game is addictive to say the least and you can pick it up for £4 on Steam, or £6 with the expansion, which is a lot of content for your money.
In Rebirth you’ll still be able to throw Isaac’s tears at floating testicles that burp flies, but this time around the game will be running on a new non-flash-based engine. The graphics are going to be all the more pixely as well, which McMillen hopes will alleviate the frame rate problems and tech restrictions of the original – meaning more gnarled, fly-puking creations can be on screen at once. Good news from a gameplay and tech perspective, but perhaps bad news for players that already find the endless rooms filled with horrific creations challenge enough.
McMillen went into detail about some of these changes in his interview with Youtube gaming personality, Northern Lion, who has an ongoing video series devoted to the original game which has reached episode 507. Listening to the interview, it seems like Rebirth is the game McMillen originally wanted to make. The flash limitations of the first release resulted in content being removed from the game. Now, in this new, pixelated reincarnation, the missing bits are being crammed back in, along with expansion The Wrath of the Lamb and extra content of a similar size to that. We can hopefully expect an indie game price tag for this pulsating bundle of spleen, guts and good times.
The real question is whether a remake is really necessary or if it’s just a ploy to cash in on a popular title. Given the recent re-release of the awful Orion: Dino Beatdown as Orion: Dino Horde in an apparent attempt to try and make some sales under a ‘new’ title, it’s okay to be a bit suspicious. Initially some fans were disappointed by the new graphics (even though the art style remains the same), which at the end of the blood-stained day is down to personal preference. Will the new content be enough to satisfy those that loved the original (which sold more than two million copies)? I’d say yes. Especially as this is also a complete rebuild of the game from the ground up on an entirely different engine, which, according to McMillen will help to bring more balance to the game and make it how he originally wanted. The Binding of Isaac 1.5? Maybe. But if other fans are anything like me, we’d just be happy for more of the same. As they say, you can’t reinvent the wheel – you can, however, arm it with a load more weird contraptions with which to dispatch its wheely adversaries.
Images: Edmund McMillen