And while it is an excellent game, it is also easily one of the most disturbing games out there as well. Created by the same man who made Super Meatboy, some readers may be offended by this game's religious content. Anyone who may be offended can just scroll to the bottom and talk about their pet cat or something.
Yep, nothing out of the ordinary here.
The game is about a young boy named Isaac who lives with his Mother. However, his Mother begins to hear the voice of "God" and is ordered to sacrifice Isaac to prove her devotion. Yes, this mimics the Biblical story of the same name.
Isaac attempts to flee from his Mother by escaping through a trapdoor found in his bedroom. From there he must try and survive mazes filled with monstrous creatures and eventually face his Mother. The game has 11 different possible endings (13 with the Wrath of the Lamb expansion pack) each shedding light on Isaac's fate.
You play the game as Isaac, a small boy who is depicted as constantly crying. And that's actually how he fights the monsters in the mazes, by firing his tears at enemies. It is also possible to unlock other characters sharing the names of other Biblical characters such as Samson and Magdalene who have their own attributes. For example, Judas starts the game with very low health but the highest attack, whereas Cain has a much greater chance of finding better items.
Again, the Wrath of the Lamb expansion gives additional characters.
The game differentiates itself from other dungeon crawlers in two ways, the maze creations and the items. Each playthrough is completely different in terms of mazes explored, monsters encountered, and items obtained. There are no saves and each time you play, you're either going to die or beat it. Dying involves you starting all over. As you progress and beat the game, additional items, bosses and even levels unlock giving another layer of depth to the game.
There are over 100 items that can randomly appear in the game, with an additional hundred items with the Wrath of the Lamb expansion. You have items ranging from basic health upgrades, attack upgrades to items that grant you wings, change your tears into lazers or give Isaac bad gas.
Oh on top of that, most items will cause your character to change his appearance. A tub of lard makes you fat, coat hangers will go through your head, diseases make you appear infected and sick, chemicals will burn off half your face.
A guy on Deviantart has drawn depictions of his character after each game, and remember that each playthrough is going to give you different items resulting in completely unique experiences:
You can view the rest of his gallery here.
Despite its cartoony appearance, The Binding of Isaac is NOT a game I'd would recommend for younger children. The monsters range from bizarre to disturbing and there is an exceptional amount of blood and gore in the game. The game is also quite difficult and often unforgiving. You are not required to explore the entire map and in fact can just go and fight bosses as soon as you find them.
HOWEVER, by doing so you risk missing items that will make the rest of your playthrough easier. Or maybe you won't find anything at all and you'll end up fighting a boss half crippled. That constant threat of risk vs. reward is another well done feature of the game. Any mistakes are done because you decided to do them and you have no one else to blame.
For only $5 and an additional $3 for the expansion pack on Steam, this game is well worth its cost. Lots of content, plenty of replay value, and a unique experience and different challenge each time you play, I highly recommend this game.