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Game Info:

The Binding of Isaac (PC)
Developed By: Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl
Release Date: September 28th, 2011
Available on: PC, Mac, Linux
Genre: Action RPG
Mode: Single Player
MSRP: $5

The Binding of Isaac tells the story of Isaac, a warped reimagining of the Biblical story of Isaac, son of Abraham.  In this game, Isaac lived a happy life with his mother who watched a lot of the Christian broadcast network on TV.  Isaac’s life took a turn for the worse when the Lord told his mom to remove sinful stuff from his life.  She obeyed and took all of his toys away from him.  Unfortunately, that was not good enough; the Lord then wanted her to kill her son to prove her faith.  After hearing this, Isaac jumped into the basement fleeing for his life.  

The basement isn’t much safer with various monsters wanting to do Isaac in as well.  The monsters, bosses, items and level design are all randomly generated so you’ll never have the same game experience twice.  Unfortunately, the randomness isn’t perfect since I have experienced duplicate boss battles and have missed out on locating hidden rooms because I didn’t find any bombs.  

Those who are familiar with the original Zelda will recognize many of the game play mechanics.  The dungeon style, bomb usage, and heart life system all brought back fond memories of my 8 bit NES.  The Binding of Isaac on the other hand, disgusted me with its gross humor and blatant anti-Christian themes.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Random map generation provides a unique game experience every time.
Weak Points: 
Sometimes there are duplicate boss battles.
Moral Warnings: Demonic themes and gruesome violence.

This game reaches South Park lows with dung riddled levels and blatant satanic power-ups including inverted crosses, Ouija boards, book of Belial, book of Shadows, pentagrams, and a 666 marking on the forehead.   Other power-ups to raise eyebrows include a wire coat hanger through the head, your mom’s maxi pad, dead brothers, and cat heads.  When you complete a level there’s a short random movie that’s played that often involves poop.  Your character either receives a present that is a box with poop in it or your character is being crapped on by two other kids.    

The atrocities don’t end there.  The first play through of the game involves you completing the basement and cavern levels only to fight your mom in the end.  Once you defeat her, the next play through will have an additional two womb levels where you get to kill your mom from the inside.  To do that, you must destroy her heart.  The last area, Sheol, is randomly available after you kill her heart.  In Sheol, you can do battle with Satan himself.

Before you do battle with Satan, make sure your character is well powered up since he takes on many forms before dying.   The weapons and power-ups vary and boost your attributes including speed, damage and health.  You initially start the game with the ability to shoot tears at your enemies.  As you collect power-ups, the tears can change to chocolate milk, urine, poop, lasers, or blood.  If you have a dead brother following you, they will help attack as well.  

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls 4/5

Morality Score - 35%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 2.5/10

The monsters are unique and creatively designed.  Some of the enemies break into smaller enemies that you have to destroy as well.  Other enemies are vulnerable at certain times or at a specific angle.  For example, there’s a monster with its brain exposed.  You have to hit the side with the brain to do damage.  When in doubt, use bombs they’re pretty powerful.  

The sound effects and bomb explosions were good. Many of the enemies have their unique noises and while I found most of them fitting, the screaming ones were annoying.  Isaac is quiet but you will hear his mother yelling "Isaac!" when you're killing her.  Surprisingly, there isn't any foul language in the game.  The music is well done and definitely adds to the tension and the gloomy atmosphere.  You can buy the soundtrack by itself or get the game with the sound track bundled in for $1.00 more.  If you like the game, it's definitely worth picking up.

It’s a shame that all of this creativity is misguided and pokes fun of the Bible and Christianity.  Most, but not all, of the bosses are themed after the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed).  As you play through the game, you can unlock other (biblical) characters including Cain and Judas.  The whole premise of Isaac taking revenge is nothing like the Bible’s version of God foreshadowing His son’s sacrifice for asking Abraham to sacrifice his son to God.  Isaac was spared in the Bible version.  I won’t spoil this game’s ending for you if you still decide to play it after reading this review.     

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  • Guest - TheKnowerseeker

    Guest - Timespike

    Christ did not try over and over again to bring the hard-hearted to himself, and neither did any of the Apostles. Actually, they spoke many a harsh but true word to those who were unrepentant. It's our job to spread the seed worldwide, but no matter how much watering you try to do, those seeds that do not land on fertile ground *will not flourish*. (But you will be harmed in the process.) There is a difference between sinners who are fertile ground and those that are not: Not all people are right for Heaven; most aren't. Satan likes to use your sentiments to tie Christians down and keep them "turning the other cheek" for folks who are not their brothers or sisters in Christ. In fact, your pacifism is helping atheists in this nation drive Christianity into a corner. Remember that we are dealing with The Snake: Use your brain, read the Bible, and pray for discernment.

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  • We lose nothing by feeling mercy and comp***ion towards those who are lost; we follow Christ's example by hoping that they might some day be saved. Let's not forget that we serve a God who saves tax collectors (Matthew), terrorists (Peter), and oppressors (the Roman Centurion). His grace is even sufficient to turn Saul, bloodthirst enemy of the early church into the apostle Paul.

    If you are talking about limited ministry resources, you may have a point, though even in that case, I'd urge you to remember the parable of the Prodigal Son.

    If you have convinced yourself there are people you don't have to love or care about, or whose condemnation you can celebrate, you have strayed far from the message of the Gospel. Christ is pretty clear on that (Matthew 5:44, Luke 23:34, Luke 10:25-37, 2 Peter 3:9). God does not wish to see anyone separated from Him. Neither should we.

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  • Guest - TheKnowerseeker

    Guest - Timespike

    We will lose everything by being pacifist toward the anti-Christian, gay-activist militant atheists who are trying to marginalize Christianity in America today as we write. (And the developer of this game is in league with them. This game is propaganda.) All of the people in the Bible whom were saved *wanted* to be saved, including all the "sinners" you've mentioned and more. As for Saul, Christ Himself had to blind him to make him see the truth. Should we go around blinding the hard-hearted in Christ's name? I don't think so either; so let's leave such conversion to God.

    Yes, there are people who will choose to be saved when pigs fly, which will be never. We should not unequally yoke ourselves with such demon-possessed people or throw our pearls to them, for as the Bible says "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." -- Matthew 7:6.

    Look, I don't think you've been responding to the points I've made, whereas I believe that I have been responding to yours, so I'm not going to continue to argue with you; I think you're just trolling.

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  • Guest - Timespike

    Guest - Timespike

    I am most ***uredly NOT trolling you, but I am trying to convict you. Where in the New Testament do you find even one verse that allows us to judge or hate ANYONE?

    Your central point seems to be (and correct me if I'm wrong, because as I said once already in this post, I'm NOT trolling you) that anyone who makes anti-Christian media is an enemy of the faith and needs to be destroyed, yes?

    So support it. Support that with scripture. Show me where in the teachings of Jesus or the letters of Paul or the Apostles where the justification for that kind of attitude is. I've been backing up my posts with scripture, because I really believe what I've said and feel pretty strongly that the Bible supports it. You've told me to read the Bible, but when I quote it to you, you brush me off as a troll.

    The best way to promote our faith is not by hating or destroying anyone who dares to not like it (and some of those people have only been shown a false, hypocritical version of it, not the genuine article) but by allowing it to push us to do real good in the world. And in doing so, we also follow the dictates of Christ.


    34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." (Matthew 25:31-45)">


    We get nowhere, temporally or eternally, with hatred. We can save ourselves and others with kindness and love.

    If someone is shown the Gospel - the REAL Gospel - and turns away, we don't have to pursue them endlessly, but neither should we hate them, wish them ill, or long for their downfall. Lots of people have to wrestle with God and their own conscience for a long time before they are willing to be saved - before they realize they need it, or in some cases, that it's possible.

    And yes, there are some in the world who hate us, who hate God and everything he stands for. We are not, however, permitted to hate them back. Christ addresses that one SPECIFICALLY in Matthew 5:43-44.

    Be that as it may, I think I'm pretty well done arguing myself. I pray that your heart might soften a little; there's a hurting world out there that desperately needs caring for.

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  • Guest - Nowhereman

    I was a kid that saw how everything he loved was destroyed by God in his facemy entire life has been nothing but hate, I fear no God or hell because I am just hate, I want to destroy everything God loves just like he did to me until he becomes nothing but Hate himself. I bet the developer had a similar experience, he will never admit it because it was not probably as severe and he really did not loved his satanic stuff as I did, now love is over, and there can be just war, and hate that will never end ever.

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  • Guest - Sigfried

    Guest - Nowhereman

    Get real. We all know that's never going to happen. God is love. You can't destroy everything that God loves. It's impossible. You'd have to destroy Earth, the Sun, the Moon, the stars, the entire universe and every parallel dimension in order to do that. And even after that, there are those who reside in Heaven and Hell, both of whom God loves (yes, God loves those who reside in Hell, as the fires of Hell are a manifestation of His burning love). How do you destroy a spirit? Also consider that anything that you destroy can always be replaced, if God so wills it.

    How do you suppose you will destroy everything that God loves? You'd also have to destroy yourself, because God still loves you, even if you refuse to see it. How was everything of yours destroyed?

    God doesn't fall to base desires like we do. I'm laughing as I type this... laughing at the fact that you think you can cause God to become pure hate just because you broke some of His creations.

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  • Guest - Edward

    Well after reading this review, I'm considering trying it out tomorrow.

    I have been avoiding it lately but I'm starting to get the concept now, thank you.

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  • Guest - Hazmatbrigade

    I've always seen The Binding of Isaac as critical and mocking, but it does have some hidden things that might make you reconsider . Spoilers Ahead



    Given that you eventually fight Satan after defeating mom, I always figured that, while initially leading players to believe Mom was being talked to by God and/or acting insane, the ending betrayed that she was really being led astray by Satan, and possibly had been before, given the contents of her basement. The player is free to skip power ups that they recognize as evil (as in real life, how does one recognize evil if you haven't previously encountered/been made aware of it?) In fact, with the expansion pack, if you skip a few "devil rooms" (where you permanently trade health for demonic themed power ups) you start getting "Angel rooms" which contain holy themed power ups and cost nothing. Personally, I think it's really up to the player to see what they see in the game. Mr. McMillan is good at making "deep"games that don't come across as pretentious.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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