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Oneiromancer
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icon The Binding of Isaac (+3)  
The Binding of Isaac was just released last week on Steam. It's a $5 indie game by a two person team, one of whom is Edmund McMillen, one of the two guys behind Super Meat Boy. The gameplay of The Binding of Isaac is very retro-inspired, which I think would appeal to many of the people here on the DROD forums.

Basically, The Binding of Isaac takes the powerups and room layout of the original Legend of Zelda, uses a control scheme like Smash TV (or any other dual-stick game), implements the randomness of Rogue, and has the story and art direction of whatever it is you find the most offensive. This last item will turn off a lot of people, which is a shame as I think the game is amazing, but that's the art direction they chose.

Edmund has a good description of the gameplay on his blog here, but in a nutshell you have a randomly-generated dungeon, by which I mean both the overall map and the layouts within the rooms is randomly generated. There are over 1000 layouts for the individual rooms, and then the monsters inside the rooms are randomly generated. Even within the monster type, there are up to three varieties, which can either be a difference in strength or have slightly different abilities. At the end of each level is a boss, which is randomly chosen from the pool available for that level.

Your weapon is your tears, and these can be upgraded to be stronger, shoot faster, or shoot farther. You can also improve your movement speed, or even fly if you get the right item. You can collect bombs, keys, and money--very Zelda-esque. The stores in particular are just like the original Zelda, with two fires burning and a few items for sale. Well, "just like" in practice, but the shopkeep is usually a corpse hanging from a noose. Like I said, the art direction is not a standard one.

There are special items you can get that will improve your stats, and these change your appearance when you pick them up (and they all stack so you can be quite unique looking late in the game). There are also usable items beyond the bombs, that recharge as you clear rooms. You can hold both one of these special items, and either a Tarot card or a pill. The pills are the only items in the game whose use changes with each game, like the scrolls and potions in a Rogue-like game. There are definitely some unfriendly pill effects, but not so many that you never want to try them out. All the other items are the same on each playthrough, so depending on how much you like surprises, you can just refer to the growing wiki for this game when a new item pops up. (None of the permanent items are bad, as such, but they can do weird things you might not want to deal with.)

As I noted before, the story is...well, messed up. You're a young child, Isaac, whose mother thinks that God is speaking to her and asks her to sacrifice him. Just like Abraham, but more messed up. The game is full of blood, snot, bodily waste, and more wearing Isaac's mother's clothing than Freud could ever want. It is most definitely not a game for the easily offended, the squeamish, or anyone that takes things too seriously. If all you care about is gameplay, you'll get a bunch of that.

The replayability is like most Rogue-likes: you'll die a lot until you finally beat the game. But The Binding of Isaac goes one step farther. Beating the game the first time isn't too hard--you have to play through six levels, with a pretty tough end boss. But then on your next playthrough, suddenly there are 8 levels. And eventually (I haven't gotten this far yet) there will be 10 levels to play through. As you play the game, you unlock new items to use, some of which are pretty powerful, so it can get a lot easier to play through the first levels, but the later ones are still tough. You can also unlock at least 3 more characters to play as besides Isaac, each one with different stats and starting items. Oh, and after the first time you beat the game, 4 new bosses are added to the rotation throughout the game(they scale to the dungeon level) and I believe even more are added as you beat the game more times. There are 7 unique mini-bosses based on the 7 Deadly Sins, there's a Devil who will give you a really powerful item at the permanent cost of some of your health, and there are slot machines and beggars you can give your money to for a chance to get items. Oh, and every level has a secret room you have to bomb to get into, just like in Zelda. There's seriously a crazy amount of content here if you enjoy the gameplay.

At $5 this was a no-brainer for me. There's been one patch so far to correct a few nasty bugs (the first two times I got to the first end boss I got knocked into the wall and had to restart), there's another one on its way, and then there is a planned Halloween content update that will add new bosses, items, and more. I've said several times on this forum that I'm not a fan of rogue-likes, but this hybrid beast really sucked me in. It's not going to be for everyone, and people might watch you playing it and think you need mental help, but if any of what I described sounds appealing to you, you should try it out.

:onei

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10-05-2011 at 07:08 PM
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Jatopian
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10-05-2011 at 09:19 PM
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Briareos
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icon Re: The Binding of Isaac (0)  
quote:
Jatopian wrote:
Permadeath?

Verily.

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10-05-2011 at 09:24 PM
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Banjooie
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ITT Neil makes this whole post and doesn't note the horrendously frustrating bug wherein Isaac will randomly just start dancing around and practically ignoring controls.

Other than that, this game depresses the hell out of me but I've had my five bucks worth. Beat the final boss once.
10-05-2011 at 09:55 PM
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Oneiromancer
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Yeah, I don't know how I forgot to mention permadeath. It definitely goes with the whole rogue-like nature but I should have explicitly said so. The game is definitely meant to be played multiple times until you win, and then played multiple times more until you win the harder version, etc.

Although last night I did get this 1-up mushroom item for the first time, which gave me an extra life. Of course I died in the middle of a boss fight and instead of respawning me right away, it put me in the previous room. But I beat it the next try. There is also an item that gives you 9 lives, but you only have 1 hp for each life. That's an example of an item that changes gameplay so much you really want to know about it before you get it.

And as for the dancing bug, Banjooie, I haven't heard of that one. I have heard of a lot of people losing progress because the game is based on Flash and so if they clear their browser cache or something similar they lose the list of items they've found and whether or not they've beaten the end boss. I think that was either fixed or is an upcoming fix. There's a bit of slowdown because it's basically a Flash game but again that's being worked on.

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10-05-2011 at 10:52 PM
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Lamkin
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The game frustrates the hell out of me...142 deaths and I have yet to make it past The Depths I (even with Magdalene or Cain). But I love the game. And I really like McMillen's art, too.

Steam achievements still aren't working for Mac users, so once that's fixed it'll provide a little more incentive to continue dying.
;)
10-05-2011 at 11:16 PM
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Jatopian
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Flash-based? What.

Yeah I don't think I'll be getting this.

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10-06-2011 at 12:54 AM
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Maurog
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icon Re: The Binding of Isaac (+2)  
I don't think you're getting this either.

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10-06-2011 at 02:22 AM
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Banjooie
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Figured out the cause of the Isaac St. Vitus bug.

Mousefire can randomly cause it. If you're using WSAD and ^<v>, you should be fine.
10-12-2011 at 08:05 AM
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Jatopian
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quote:
Maurog wrote:
I don't think you're getting this either.
Okay, I'll bite. What do you mean?

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10-12-2011 at 08:28 AM
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gamer_extreme_101
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Someone made the excellent point that complaining that the game is made in Flash is like complaining what brand of stove was used to cook dinner. As long as the final product is good, who cares?

That said, I've loved the game, and have beat it over a dozen times now - I'm just missing five or so items to get 100%.

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10-12-2011 at 04:57 PM
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mrimer
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Thanks for the review, Neil. The gameplay sounds cool. As you say, it's a shame, because I don't want to fill up my mind with the garbage present in the theme. I'm not even going to try it.

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10-22-2011 at 04:47 PM
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Banjooie
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I wouldn't necessarily call it 'garbage', I'd call it a very dark, morbid theme. It's pretty clear that what you're seeing is basically the hallucinations of a very hurt, very abused child.
10-23-2011 at 06:33 AM
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mrimer
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I can strongly sympathize with that kind of situation in general. I don't mean to minimize the pain any child who has been abused goes through. It's a very sad, sad thing that hurts my heart whenever I think about it. More specifically, I do not want to bear any more of those kind of dark feelings.

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[Last edited by mrimer at 10-24-2011 07:55 PM]
10-24-2011 at 07:53 PM
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Rat Man
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icon Re: The Binding of Isaac (0)  
Overexposure to those sorts of things in entertainment can desensitize you. Personally, I try to avoid anything this dark.

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10-24-2011 at 10:48 PM
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Jatopian
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I feel it's possible to be empathetic where necessary whether or not one is "desensitized", but I can respect the desire not to have certain things in one's mind... though I think that a habit of such avoidance only makes one more vulnerable to losing sleep over it should it happen.

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10-25-2011 at 12:29 AM
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mrimer
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quote:
Jatopian wrote:
I think that a habit of such avoidance only makes one more vulnerable to losing sleep over it should it happen.
You're probably right about this, Jatopian. I'm not sure this is the best venue to continue discussing this, but I'd like to share some personal thoughts. I've been having some experiences where I've found it's okay, even good, to be vulnerable. I can be both vulnerable and strong. Making good choices to avoid filling myself with darkness helps give me strength. If something like we've been discussing were to happen, I would feel okay about losing sleep over it. In fact, I think this consequence would be natural and good for my soul as a human being.

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Gandalf? Yes... That's what they
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Gandalf the Grey. That was my name.
I am Gandalf the White.
And I come back to you now at the
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[Last edited by mrimer at 10-25-2011 08:48 PM]
10-25-2011 at 08:47 PM
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Rat Man
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Beautifully put, Mike. I couldn't have said it better myself. Now, let's leave this thread for game discussion.

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10-26-2011 at 01:47 AM
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Banjooie
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Me, I'm going to go cry at my mother's leg until it explodes in a shower of blood.

But I mean, your thing is cool too.
10-26-2011 at 06:36 AM
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Bombadil
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FYI, the game has been added to the "Humble Voxatron Bundle" www.humblebundle.com). You can get it if you pay more than the average (currently < 4 $), together with Blocks that matter and Voxatron.
11-01-2011 at 06:55 PM
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Lamkin
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Another FYI is that there was a Binding of Isaac Halloween update which added a new chapter, 3+ new bosses, 4 new enemies, 20+ new items, and one new unlockable character.
(A heads-up that the update is a little buggy as it is now, but the developer has mentioned that that should be fixed soon with a patch.)
11-01-2011 at 08:00 PM
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west.logan
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Out of curiousity, did you preview your post twice Lamkin? I received three slightly varied copies in my inbox and was wondering if its due to a forum bug.

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11-01-2011 at 08:06 PM
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Dischorran
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Brimstone = awesome. Even if it doesn't play well with other goodies at the moment.

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11-01-2011 at 08:11 PM
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Lamkin
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quote:
west.logan wrote:
Out of curiousity, did you preview your post twice Lamkin? I received three slightly varied copies in my inbox and was wondering if its due to a forum bug.

Well, preview yes, but lots of times, instead of editing a post, I'll delete it then post it again (and again, etc., if I keep messing it up and I've noticed more or less immediately). So it's not a bug...just me reposting the same post, if you will. Sorry to spam your e-mail, sir. :P

[Last edited by Lamkin at 11-01-2011 08:25 PM : Nuts. I've done it again a couple of times but just edited the thing instead of deleting it...I haven't had much sleep.]
11-01-2011 at 08:16 PM
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Banjooie
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Yeah, I think the update is a bit broken? Because the 'big bomb' item doesn't seem to have a cooldown.

Doing a run with infinite giant bombs was fun, though.
11-01-2011 at 09:10 PM
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RoboBob3000
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quote:
Dischorran wrote:
Brimstone = awesome. Even if it doesn't play well with other goodies at the moment.
I just did a run with Brimstone + Chocolate Milk. This combination seems to let you fire Brimstone shots without charging. I was *this* close to completing no-damage Depths and Womb runs with it.

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11-01-2011 at 10:57 PM
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Banjooie
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I personally chortled forever at having Small Rock and chocolate milk, if only because apparently I am chewing rocks into bubbles and then spitting them out.
11-02-2011 at 05:51 AM
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gamer_extreme_101
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I think the best attack setup I've ever had was Chocolate Milk + Common Cold + Fetus in a Jar + Mr. Mega. Things died a lot that run.

Of course, now that I've seen the Bobby Bomb item, I want that combined with Fetus in a Jar. The shenanigan potential is infinite.

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11-02-2011 at 05:44 PM
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Oneiromancer
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My last successful run was my first clear with Judas, who only starts with one heart, and I was not getting lucky with drops increasing my health. This was the only time I had taken the dead cat, which gives you 9 extra lives but limits you to one heard (although you can increase that if they show up, and there's no limit on soul hearts). I had some other good items, like two flies and level two of the cube of meat protecting me from bullets, and the cross generating a soul heart every fourth room I completed. But the key was having a battery with Mom's bottle of pills. I was able to spawn a new pill almost every other room and grew all my stats (except for run speed) to max. I still had a challenge, but it was easy to persevere.

And then my very next run I couldn't even get past the first boss. I got the Headless Horseman and he smoked me. I didn't stand a chance.

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11-06-2011 at 06:10 PM
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Banjooie
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I did a ??? run. Second run /ever/ I made it to SatanX, and that's without any reliable soul heart generator.

Game gets way too easy after a while. Mom's Pills are freaking nice with a 9-volt and battery, though.
11-06-2011 at 06:18 PM
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