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The Binding of Isaac

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Rating: 4.7/5 (7080 votes)
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The Binding of Isaac

JohnBRoguelike, The Legend of Zelda, a dual stick shooter, and the twisted mind of Edmund McMillen, part of the team behind Super Meat Boy. Put them all together and you've got The Binding of Isaac, a game that is as unhinged as it is entertaining, as good-looking as it is, well, disgusting. Even still, it's the kind of game you'll play through again and again, just to collect every item and explore every corner of the game's randomly-generated world.

The Binding of IsaacIsaac lives alone with his mom, and they have a very happy life together. One day she hears the voice of god, telling her that Isaac is living in sin and she needs to fix that right away. So, she takes away all of his toys and locks him in his room. That's not enough, however, and to prove her devotion, she had to perform one final task: kill Isaac. But Isaac is a clever little boy and he escapes into the basement before she can catch him. Take that, mom!

As it turns out, the basement isn't a very friendly place, and Isaac now has to deal with all sorts of nauseating abominations. He has a few weapons and power-ups to help him through it all, though. Move around with the [WASD] keys and fire tears (Isaac's weapon of choice) in any direction with the [arrow] keys. You can drop bombs with [E] and use a secondary item (when you obtain one) with the [spacebar]. There are plenty of things to pick up and lots of secrets to find in this deeply-layered basement, and you'll need every trick you've got to survive.

The Binding of Isaac is built around randomly-generated basement levels, items, enemies—everything, really, is created anew each time you play. It's designed this way to make multiple playthroughs not only possible, but entertaining, as you'll be doing quite a few of them. The main goal is to climb deeper into the basement, fighting dozens of enemies and 20 or so boss characters, but the real goal is to collect every item in the game. And there are over 100 of them to find. The catch is each time you die, you lose your power-ups and start over from the beginning. Frustrating? It can be. But it's all a part of the experience!

The Binding of IsaacAnalysis: The Binding of Isaac may look similar to the original The Legend of Zelda, but it certainly doesn't look or play that way. It's more of a collect-a-thon arcade game than anything, even though it shares elements with role playing and adventure games. Fast reflexes and a thick skin resistant to failure are the tools you'll need to scratch the surface of this world. Oh, and a high tolerance for all things disgusting.

The high number of unlockable/findable items in The Binding of Isaac makes it kind of irresistible. You could just call it a day after you die, but then again, there are so many neato things to find, why not just one more round? After all, you found chocolate milk and mom's high heels last time, who knows what you could locate in this adventure? The threat of death and losing your power-ups is great, but it's so worth the risk!

There are no real design flaws or trip-ups in The Binding of Isaac. The game plays incredibly smooth with the familiar Super Meat Boy-style artwork covering every object in the game. Barriers to entry include the emphasis on death and replaying levels to find loot and the game's high amount of adult content.

If you can stomach the occasional frustrating death and are ok with the disgusting, The Binding of Isaac is absolutely guaranteed to please. Edmund McMillan, Florian Himsl, and Danny B (the game's composer) have really outdone themselves!

Play The Binding of Isaac DEMO (Flash)

Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version


how appropriate; last Wednesday, I celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.


Well at least someone understands the religious significance of the title and plot.


Shouldn't it be THREAT of death, not THREAD of death?


needs an easy/hard option. i'm 0 for 50 on beating it and only 1/50 on even getting to 6th floor. i'm getting really frustrated.


needs an easy/hard option. i'm 0 for 50 on beating it and only 1/50 on even getting to 6th floor. i'm getting really frustrated.


Highly enjoyable. I did get the game and soundtrack on Steam for about $6, not a bad intro price to try out something like this. Even though it takes awhile to load, It does feel like an extremely well produced, stable Flash game. I don't regret paying the asking price - it's proven extremely addictive. One thing with Steam is it doesn't seem to sync on the Mac OS; I've spent hours on the game and my history only shows about 5 minutes and no achievements. Hopefully this can be fixed, either on the Steam end or on the programmers' end.


Damn you. I was pretty close to purchasing this two times already, but then I looked at my stupidly huge library of Steam games, most of which unplayed, so I smartly decided against purchasing another one.

Until now. It just got downloaded 100%. Argh.


Same that JohnB: I had a very, very difficult time beating it a first time, but after that I beat it twice without many problems. Don't forget that, in addition to luck and a growing skill as you play, you'll also unlock more items which are often more powerful than the "basic" one.
Last run I did, I ended up with 5 hearts, 5 grey hearts, book of revelations with charger, a full-grown up meat boy, and chocolate tears with pretty much every stat maxed up. Oh, and also 36 coins, 25 bombs and a dozen keys.
Needless to say, I thoroughly kicked some ass.


I agree with Robert, I've been playing it on my Mac and it doesn't seem to save/register any of my achievements or playing time :(

And yup, even though the game is random, the more the play the better you'll do. Not only does your basic fighting skill get better but you get better at managing items based on experience. The game doesn't explain any of the items until you've used them so later on if you encounter that item again, like say in the shop, you have a better strategy of which items to use/buy and how to use them.

This game is sooo good and sooo addictive, 5/5 for sure.


Will someone please explain to me how this is rated O while Super Meat Boy was rated R? This is so much more disgusting and graphic, whereas Super Meat Boy was much less so. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Ahem. Now then, on to the game. It's awesome. As in REALLY awesome. I've played for 6+ hours, and I've only beaten the game once, yet I'm still constantly trying to beat it again. And again. And again. And again... but the constant failure isn't bad, it's fun, especially when there are new items to find. I'm still hoping I manage to get the same super destructive combo of Chocolate Milk, inner eye, and piercing shots that allowed me to completely destroy Mom in about 10 seconds. I'll probably be playing this at least until I beat the game at least three times again (or until I get Mamas boy, but that probably will never happen.) Long story short: if you haven't bought it, buy it. If you have, why are you still reading this? GO PLAY IT!

P.S. I'm extremely proud of my beating the basement without taking any damage, but I'm pretty sure it's because my laptop is incredibly laggy. The game is much harder at full speed :D

sonicscrewdriver October 2, 2011 9:20 PM

I want to buy this game, it looks fun, but my operating system isn't listed, I'm on Linux Mint 10 (julia). Does anyone know if it will work for me?




If you have WINE, then maybe.


Oh, and also, apparently the issue with Steam not syncing the game on Macs should be fixed this week, according to TPTB.

spaceloaf October 3, 2011 6:25 AM

This game is driving me crazy. After beating Mom once, I'm on my "second" playthrough, but I've died at Mom 6 or 7 times now. Argh!!

This game definitely has a surprising amount of depth though. There are so many tricks that are non-obvious:

You can bomb rocks to fill holes in order to cross a single-space gap.

You can bomb slot machines, heart machines, and the "3 card monty" guy and get random items.

The beggar will eventually drop a permanent power-up and disappear if you give him enough money. This is a good way to get an extra power-up if the shop doesn't have anything good.

The teleporter will sometimes teleport you to the "I am error" room which can have power-ups, a store, chests, and always has a trapdoor directly to the next level. (no boss fight!)

Secret rooms always have entrances to any adjacent rooms (even though they don't appear until you bomb them). So if you find a secret room next to a treasure room, so can bomb the wall of the secret room and go directly the treasure room without needing a key.

I have to say, this is a really addictive game!

thrilling October 4, 2011 8:59 AM

Also, look out for rocks in the cellar levels that are slightly more purpleish than the other rocks. if you bomb them, you often get a blue heart, some goodies, or a gold chest

Thrilling October 4, 2011 9:02 AM

Also, look out for rocks in the cellar levels that are slightly more purpleish in color than the other rocks. When bombed, they drop blue hearts, goodies, or a golden chest


Wow. This game is perfect.

I managed to beat it on my fifth try due to an extremely lucky selection of items. On the first floor I got the X-Ray Specs which

reveal *and* open all secret doors.

That alone meant I pretty much never had to worry about bombs, coins, or keys. In fact two of the shop rooms were replaced by Greed, so by the end of the game I had 99 coins and nothing to spend them on except the Three Card Monty guy, which let me fight Mom with full hearts and bombs.

Other crucial items: the Yum Heart was great, but combined with a Battery I was just unstoppable. The red regenerating-if-you-don't-kill-the-corpse guys are probably the enemies that cause me the most grief, but the syringe (I forget what it's actually called) and a damage power-up made them much easier. I also had a Halo of Flies, but I'm not sure what that one actually did.

I haven't figured out the pill system exactly. Is it like other Roguelikes where each pill's effect changes from game to game (but you identify it after you try it), or do they always do the same thing?

I also don't quite understand the Secrets. I've "unlocked" eleven (somehow), but several of them seem to be multiple copies of the same thing. Not sure what that means.


The halo of flies blocks the projectiles that hit the flies.


The "platform" listed under the game/post title for this post needs to be fixed (to include both Windows and Mac rather than just Windows).

[Thanks for pointing that out. I think John was feeling a little sick to his stomach when he was writing this one up. ;) -Jay]

spaceloaf October 4, 2011 10:41 PM


Each "secret" corresponds to either a new boss to fight or a new item that can randomly appear in the dungeon.

They unlock through all sorts of different ways, most of which you just unwittingly stumble upon while playing.

Also, if you're only beaten it once, then you haven't really beaten it. One of the things you unlock after your first win is the "Womb" which is another two levels of dungeons after Mom in which you encounter the true final boss.

This game has a ton of depth; beating Mom is just the beginning!


What happens if you use the shovel on the level with the "real" end boss?

I wanted to try it, but then again I wanted to finally finish the game. Now I got, well, what you get when you finish the game "for real", but I'm left with the question whether there are additional levels below.. :(


The best item in the game would be

The Bible (Book with standard cross)

When used it will

kill anything on the screen, (and heres the best part), INCLUDING BOSSES! I accidently killed mom with it, when i first tried it out lol xD

but i think it might be very rare

PS. This is just personal experience and i might be wrong on the effect

PPS. This might also be the easiest way to win the game


Yup, Luraman, you're wrong. This item only kills the boss you mentionned, as well as the last true boss, when used.
In other rooms, it transforms the player into an angel, allowing him to fly over obstacles. But even though it's quite a good item, I personnally think that the Chocolate Milk + Laser Eye combo is simply overkill.


I don't really like Chocolate milk as it disables the auto-shooting by holding down the fire button

Nightwisher October 27, 2011 6:17 PM

When I bought it on steam the "skip" button disappeared during the opening sequence which gets a little annoying when I have to put it down to play later. But otherwise this game is wonderful, I haven't beaten it yet but got very close once; it doesn't even frustrate me since it's fun right from the beginning.

theguywhoinventedbeer October 30, 2011 5:33 PM

imo, fetus in a jar and chocolate milk or technology and chocolate beam probably one of the best combos.


There's one huge flaw that really gets me about this game. I get that it's randomly generated, but there doesn't seem to be any direction to the generation. Sooooo many times I end up being given levels with inaccessible items or rooms, leaving me horribly underpowered in some playthroughs because I've not got any decent upgrades. Another game had two rooms spawn a bomb collectable within an area that needed a bomb to get through. Utterly useless me even getting them even if I had bombs, but it's the fact it put them there when there was no possible way for me to retrieve them. And it's pretty much my only problem with the game, but considering the items and collectables are pretty much what sell the game, I'm kinda thinking it needs fixing, big time.


5 stars game. But I agree with Ryan, it's too dependent on luck. The random generation is not only giving you a different experience, it gives you different difficulty levels. Sometimes I get to the third level having found only one key! Had to leave behind chests, trasure rooms, shops..

There is one specific boss I never ever defeated, no matter at what level I find him he always kills me:

Gurdy. The time I almost beat him was in a room with no stones to get in the way, so I could wasily maneuver to avoid his projectiles.

If anyone has any tips I'd appreciate it :)


Ohh.. I think I get it now. A general tip:

Don't try to beat the game with Isaac directly. As you unlock new characters try them out. I've finished twice doing that, already. And every time I finish new items become available, so eventually my run with Isaac will be more likely to succeed

Nissandwich January 4, 2012 3:54 PM

This game has pretty much become a daily routine for me. As soon as I start up my laptop, I start playing this game.
VERY addicting.
I've been thinking of posting up a walkthrough/guide of all powers ups and secrets, but that's only when I actually finish the game.
The one thing I love is

fighting the 7 Deadly Sins. I feel like Gluttony was inspired by Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist.

Also, has anyone gotten the

'Cube of Meat' power-up more than three times?

First time - cube of meat revolves around player; serves as defense and offense when close to an enemy.
Second time - becomes 'face of meat'; shoots blood drops and same provides offense and defense.
Third time - becomes 'boy of meat' (probably Meat Boy, I haven't played that game); is able to walk as a separate being and serves as offense by touching enemies and causing damage.
I've never gotten more than three.


This game is the digital equivalent of Goya's 'Saturn Eating His Children,'

Bill Nye the Russian Spy August 18, 2012 12:28 AM


The Meat Boy gets bigger and does more damage.

Also, if you got all of your Cubes by beating Horsemen, you unlock the Bandage, which gives you an extra Heart Container and two Soul Hearts.

Getting more than four Cubes

gives you another orbiting cube that can potentially "level up" into a second Meat Boy.


Your target priority should be this: boils, shooting flies, Gurdy, other flies. The other flies should get caught in your shots aimed at Gurdy, so don't worry about them too much. Also, I find it easiest to dodge her shots (yeah, Ed says that thing's female) by staying at the middle of the bottom wall and moving to a corner whenever she looks like she's about to do something. That way, you don't have to worry about rocks.

Ryan: Them's the breaks. If you don't get a very good haul on the first floor and you don't think it could easily be improved, restart. (Oh, and beating the game multiple times as different characters reduces the chances of bad hauls by a lot.)


You go to the really-real final floor, Sheol, which you can also reach by

teleporting to the Error Room on that floor, or finding a Devil or Angel Room after killing Mom's Heart. Also, a trapdoor always shows up in the boss room after you've beaten Mom's Heart nine times.

The place is full of bomb leeches, charging knights, evil twins, and bosses from the first six floors. Oh, and whatever you do, do not use the Bible against this floor's boss.

You die.

Side note:

Technically, this is only one of the final dungeons, but the other one's DLC-exclusive.


I didn't get past the nasty caricature of Christians in the intro. It's not worth it to me to spend time on a game that begins with such slanderous stereotypes.


This game is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE, specially if you have the Expansion: "Wrath of the Lamb", which expands the game an effing lot.

I just managed to beat the game with the character CAIN, which has an exceptional luck, meaning you can get better items, pills never hurt, and the Cup game beggar has a 50% chance of spawning the prize instead of a fly.

I got the Skatole ("un-enemies" most of the flies on the game) and some nasty power ups, maxed out with 7 red hearts and almost every item full, the GAMEKID which turns you into a pacman of sorts that eats enemies for half-hearts and a "The Devil" tarot card that doubles your Damage EVEN IF THE STATUS IS MAXED OUT :D talk about overkilling.

Mom's heart didn't stand a chance :)

And I still have to beat the game with the rest of characters and more times, and also haven't seen the Cathedral, Sheol or The Chest...

Definitly addictive, don't play if there's more important stuff to do like...


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