By Ben Barrett on April 16th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.
Quick, the RPS hivemind has retired to a snoozing chamber in London to absorb more knowledge into the glorious whole, so let’s have a party. It’ll be full of blood and guts and dead animals and religious subtexts! Not your sort of party? You probably haven’t played enough Binding of Isaac, the gory 2D roguelike from way back in the mists of time, 2011. It was one of the first in the long line of every-run-is-different action games from the past few years and (particularly with the DLC) is fucking brilliant. Since we last heard from dev Mr. Edmund McMillen, he’s been hard at work on a remake/expansion and putting updates on the game’s blog. The main purpose is to get away from its Flash trappings so it will run acceptably on a larger number of machines, plus allow some console ports. However, there’s also been music, item and enemy reveals, the best of which I’ve hunted down, cried at until they died and hung the corpses of on the wall below.
First, bung this on repeat:
Alright, now you’re ready for some sweet killer-baby action. In case you’re here without any prior knowledge, the titular Isaac is able to pick up various power-ups as he progresses through his mom’s basement and destroys the horrific creatures that lurk there. These upgrade his tears to be more fearsome projectiles, cause his little legs to waddle faster or make him harder to kill. Or it might be something totally different that switches up how the game plays significantly. An example: it’s possible to have a positive fleet of floating fetuses destroying all who stand in your way.
There’s some work-in-progress looking stuff here, like the slightly out of place UI elements, but it does a good job showing off the sort of ridiculous situation the game can evolve into. Nice new art on the floors and ally sprites too – Ed said in his Q&A that he half-assed it originally and he wanted the game’s Zelda roots to shine through a bit more, but I think it just looks better now.
What about the enemy department? Ed’s being cagey, stating he hates showing off his games when they’re a WIP, but one he’s been willing to let slip is the Nest. It’s similar to the fly vomiting Hives from the original game, only focused on spiders. With the caveat that many of the visual effects are still to be implemented, you can have a look at the sprite below.
There’s a much softer edge to everything here, and it should look proper gorgeous now the game can be high-resolution’d properly. Gorgeous and horrifying: while no details on the promised new bosses or chapters have been announced, I’m willing to put my neck out and assume a couple of nightmares is an inevitability after first experiencing them. The original final boss, a hairy, wart covered leg, still makes me shiver a little.
The coup de grâce is a variety of announced new weapon enhancements. My favourite is the Tiny Planet, which makes your shots do this:
Which, combined with the best upgrade from the original game, Ipecac, looks like this:
Which might look ridiculous and impractical but it’s actually ridiculous, impractical, awesome and powerful. Isaac’s greatest strength, in my estimation, was the endless chase of a truly ridiculous set of abilities. There was never quite enough depth in its enemies or layouts to make every room a new challenge after ten hours or so, but each run would be radically separate from previous. Ed’s stated he’s going to leave in as many of the overpowered combinations of rare items as he can without thoroughly breaking the game. This is superb, letting the modular nature of the combat engine design its more awesome moments. It also means you can look forward to things like this:
There’s loooooads more details chilling out over on the devblog and I highly recommend checking it out to see chain-puke, laser-swirls and bullet-halos.