My History with Isaac
I was first introduced to the Binding of Isaac by Emily V. Gordon on the Indoor Kids podcast (not personally, I just heard her talk about how much she enjoyed it many, many times). When the game was FREE on PS Plus (in November 2014) I instantly added it to my library. I tried it out immediately and became obsessed with it. I still love it and continue to play today.
The Binding of Isaac instantly became a game that I would play almost nightly on my PS4. It became my pre-gaming warm-up (gaming appetizer) and my post-gaming cool down (gaming dessert). I’d play it when I had just a short amount of time to play games, but also during long sessions of weekend gaming.
Once I got my hands on a Nintendo Switch and the game was released there I knew I would eventually own it there too. I just didn’t want to pay the full price ($40) for it since I already owned it on my PS4. I held out until it finally went on sale for $20-25, which I think is worth it especially since my original version of this game was free. I later learned that the Switch version: Afterbirth+ had some extra content when compared to my PS4 version: Rebirth.
The Switch has become the main place where I play Isaac. I re-downloaded it for this article on my PS4 and will most likely keep it there too. It’s just great to be able to play on handheld mode as well as on the big screen in docked mode (on Switch). Indies like Isaac are what the Switch was built for. I don’t know how many indies I’ve repurchased on the Switch, just to be able to play in handheld mode (Super Meat Boy, Towerfall, Steamworld Dig, Guacamelee and countless others).
The Binding of Isaac was originally released in 2011 for PC, it later came to consoles and was released as a new iteration each time. The Binding of Isaac, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and Rebirth+, then Afterbirth and Afterbirth+, and in March (almost 10 years later) we’ll receive The Binding of Isaac: Repentance. They are usually the same basic game, but I believe there will be new content and for the first time a true two-player mode in Repentance (for more info on Repentance check out this article from Polygon).
What is the Binding of Isaac?
[EDIT] I received a note from a friend who said they read this article, but still don’t know what this game is. I guess I left out the part where I explain The Binding of Isaac:
The Binding of Isaac is an indie roguelike where you find yourself (Isaac) traversing through procedurally-generated dungeons filled with procedurally-generated items and enemies. Each dungeon has multiple rooms, which ultimately lead to a random big boss. The final dungeon ends with facing off against Mom.
The story of the game is quite simple. God tells mom she must sacrifice her child as a symbol of her faith. She locks the child up in his room. She’s then told to murder the child but he escapes into the basement (where the game takes place). If that doesn’t make sense you can watch the intro video below.
Since downloading The Binding of Isaac for FREE over six years ago, it has become one of my favorite games of all time. I’m obsessed! I don’t have a total number of hours played on all platforms, but that doesn’t matter. It’s definitely the game I have stuck with the longest, on and off, other than Tetris.
I’ve shared my love for this game with many gamer friends. I’ve even got some of them to also fall in love with this game. Some already knew about it and also were fans, others didn’t listen to me and are missing out on life. I get excited for any new Isaac news, or anything Isaac-related, even when the creator (Edmund McMillen) makes a new game I do some research.
When Edmund McMillen announced a card game version of Isaac on Kickstarter I was an instant backer. Usually board game companies take over and try to interpret a video game into a tabletop game. The Binding of Isaac: Foul Souls card game got me extra hyped because Edmund himself actually built the card game version himself. I’ve played the game a few times with my tabletop buddies and it totally captures the essence of the video game with it’s toughness and tons of content within the cards. It’s a fun cooperative game that also allows for big time betrayals among friends.
Although I do research the latest games from the creator of Isaac, I have only tried Isaac and Super Meat Boy. And those are two games that I truly love. I also own Super Meat Boy on multiple platforms (PS4, Switch and PC). I plan on getting the Super Meat Boy sequel, Super Meat Boy Forever soon, I’m just still working on the original.
My Isaac Stats (Switch vs PS4)
I looked up my stats on both the Switch and PS4. I’m only using my main save slot on each console. I did play a few rounds on the second and third save slots, but I mostly stick to the main one. Here are a few stats with images. I know I’ve played over 40 hours on the Switch, and I must have played that or more on the PS4.
I’m pretty sure my PS4 is leaving some stats out. I do remember my first time beating “Mom” in the game was on PS4, so I know something is definitely wrong here.
PS4 Isaac Stats
Nintendo Switch Stats
My Favorite Game
Why do I love The Binding of Isaac so much? Do I think of it as the “perfect game?” Yes, I do love this game. It is also an incredible game for me (and many other people). I wouldn’t call it a perfect game though. I don’t know if it’s just so simple to get into it and start playing. It’s very accessible. Anyone can play and learn how to play it, and within moments you’re already playing. No long load times or anything, even on current gen consoles.
It is also the perfect airplane game. Any time I’ve flown anywhere (before 2020) I always try to decide on a game to start or try to beat on the plane. I end up playing whatever game I choose for a few minutes before jumping back into Isaac for the remainder of the flight. Maybe it’s just comforting when flying in a tiny metal death tube in the sky? Maybe it’s just that I don’t have to use my brain power while playing Isaac. I don’t know what it is about the game, but if you plan on flying with a Nintendo Switch definitely download this game before.
It’s also the perfect game for bedtime, bathroom time (thanks to the Switch) and for when you want to watch something on TV, but also not pay attention and play a game on your Switch. Some games are too demanding for this, I’ve tried Crypt of the Necrodancer while watching TV and it doesn’t work. It’s a rhythm game and there’s just too much going on.
So, if you haven’t played The Binding of Isaac at all in your life time I seriously suggest you pick it up on any console or PC. Or wait a month and pick up the new expansion when it comes out. I’m sure you can pre-order Repentance and start playing some version of Isaac today. If my words haven’t convinced you, you can watch this video of part of my last run in Isaac and decide for yourself.