The Binding of Isaac is an indie video game created by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. It was released on the digital distribution platform Steam on September 28, 2011. The player controls a nude crying child named Isaac or one of five other unlockable characters (six as of the Wrath of the Lamb expansion). After his mother is given a message from God commanding her son be sacrificed as proof of her faith, Isaac flees into the horror-ridden basement to stay alive.
On November 1, 2011, it was included in the Humble Indie Bundle as part of the Humble Voxatron Debut.
The game's name and storyline reference the Biblical story known as the Binding of Isaac.
The Binding of Isaac is a two-dimensional action-adventure video game where the player controls Isaac or six of the unlockable characters as he traverses through the dungeons located underneath his mother's basement. The video game's gameplay and style are inspired by the dungeons of The Legend of Zelda series, while mixing in randomly procedurally generated floors akin to roguelikes (like traditional roguelikes, death is permanent and the player is forced to restart with nothing if they die) while doing this is in a simple Legend of Zelda like formula. On each floor of the basement below, the player must fight off monsters before he can go into other rooms. Along the way, the player can collect currency to buy items from shops, keys to gain entry into special treasure rooms (as well as special golden chests, libraries that contain book items, and shops), and new weapons and power-ups to increase his chance of surviving. Each floor of the dungeon ends in a boss room, where the player must defeat the boss before being able to go down to the next floor.
The Binding of Isaac's storyline is based off the eponymous Bible story. Isaac (a kid) and his mother live in a small home situated on a hill, both peacefully keeping to themselves, with Isaac drawing doodles and playing with his toys while his mother watches Christian broadcasts on the television. Isaac's mother then hears "a voice from above", stating her son is corrupted with sin and must be saved. It asks her to remove all sin from Isaac to save him. She obliges, taking away his toys, pictures, his handheld video game console and even the clothes on his back.
The voice again calls out to Isaac's mother, stating Isaac must be isolated from all the evil in the world. Once again, she follows its command and locks Isaac in his room. Finally, the voice speaks to her again. It states she has done well but says it still questions her faith and commands she must sacrifice Isaac. She obliges, grabbing a kitchen knife and goes to Isaac's room. Isaac is watching through a sizable crack in his door and starts to panic. He finds a trapdoor under the rug, and just as his mother bursts in, he opens the trapdoor and jumps down it. Isaac then puts the paper he was drawing onto his wall, which transitions into the game's title screen.
Shown throughout the game at loading points between floors is Isaac recollecting about his childhood while curled up in a fetal position and crying. These purportedly show parts of his life, showing Isaac had a difficult childhood ranging from rejection from his mother to bullying from his classmates. However, some images show impossible scenes that cannot have happened but are rather Isaac's own fears. Along with that, the game resumes with Isaac waking up on the next floor making it possible that the memories are merely made up dreams.
The game has multiple ending scenes, making the storyline distorted and non-linear as the game continues.
A DLC expansion was added to the game, titled Wrath of the Lamb, was released through the digital distribution platform Steam on May 28, 2012. The expansion adds 70% more content to the vanilla version, and contains +25 new bosses, +100 new items, +30 unlockable content, a new final ending and more.
Steam Trading Cards
The Binding Of Isaac also has Steam Trading Cards. There are 9 cards, based on the first nine Tarot Cards in the game. These can be found in the player's Steam inventory after they have spent a certain amount of time playing up to a maximum limit of 5. Once the player hits the drop cap, they need to trade with other players to obtain the 4 remaining cards, or have a booster pack randomly drop, which contains more cards.
Edmund McMillen has confirmed that a remake of the game (The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth) is slated for 2014 following the teaser trailer released in August 2013. He noted the primary purpose will be to take the game out of Flash and use a new engine to help limit the bugs with the game. It will include completely re-balanced items and monsters, as well as a new 16-bit style and music/sound (including remixes), a local co-op feature, and a new WotL sized DLC expansion along with console support. The following platforms have been confirmed: PC, Playstation 3, and Playstation Vita. He stated he is looking to bring the game to iOS "if its not garbage."
Nintendo 3DS port
Edmund had tweeted that the game would receive a port on the Nintendo 3DS via the Nintendo eShop and was waiting for approval from Nintendo. Nintendo later rejected it, not based on the violence and dark setting, but rather the "questionable religious content".
The decision brought him to praise the Steam platform and the free reign it gave publishers regardless of the game's content (compared to Nintendo). Nintendo's rejection caused a public outcry among major gaming websites.
Relative to the remake of the game, Edmund has reached out to Nintendo to get the game released on the Nintendo 3DS. He stated the remake has a better chance with Nintendo now, due to the new 16-bit style as well as that the game had became a surprise hit. Some time later however, Edmund stated on his Formspring that there is virtually no chance for Rebirth to come out on the 3DS at this point, due to the religious content restrictions.
The Binding of Isaac received mostly favorable reviews from game critics and gamers alike. On the review aggregator GameRankings, the game has an average score of 85.17%, based on 18 reviews. On Metacritic, the game has an average of 84/100 based on 30 reviews.
In Germany, the game has received an age 16+ rating because of the potentially blasphemous content.