Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is Going To Be Amazing

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:

New jam discovered, along with two others remixed from the original game into glorious new forms.

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.

GIFs! On Rock, Paper, Shotgun! I know!

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.

if you're pronouncing anything like it has a j in it here, you can just go ahead and leave

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:

The evolution of language is great, the evolution of pronunciation can git oot.

Which, combined with the best upgrade from the original game, Ipecac, looks like this:

There's a mod to be made where these are real planets and the basement is actually space.

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 are people I know for whom 'exponential spider growth' is the most terrifying thing I could ever say.

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.

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38 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Hmm, have I not played enough? Tell me, mighty Steam conch!
    You’ve played 108 hours
    Hooray for the mighty Steam conch!

    (And I will still play this improved version as much as I can.)

    • Ridnarhtim says:

      I’m somewhere around 230…

      • Hellcolik says:

        I’m at 370 hours, and I played a lot even after getting the Platinum God achievement. The reborn Isaac will probably suck in my spare time.

  2. Nevard says:

    I am extremely excited about this game, and only sad that there’s basically no chance of a 3DS release.
    I want portable Isaac it would be perfect :(

    • GeorgeB says:

      They teased a potential 3ds build recently with some screenshots you could scan into the 3ds via QR code that had 3ds formatted images like those above including full 3-d… nothing guaranteed but I think it’s more likely than you are believe.

      • SuperCoolDude says:

        It’s not like new Binding of Issac can’t be ported to the 3ds (it most certainly can), but that Nintendo banned it from being sold on their eshop due to the games super-obvious religious overtones.

        It isn’t that they can’t port it, but that Nintendo just doesn’t want the port.

    • le_bougurt says:

      You do realize it is going to be released on PS Vita? So not only you can play this game on a portable system, you can also enjoy it on PS Vitas amazing OLED. screen.

  3. Servicemaster says:

    HOLY CHRIST! I’ve 100%’d Both BoI and WotL and I’m ready to 100% Rebirth. Why the hell can’t this be on Early Access? I’d pay $20 for this shit, easy. Addiction can be a beautiful thing when playing this macabre game.

  4. rapchee says:

    “glorious whole” conjures some strage images …

  5. MrFinnishDude says:

    Ugh, i’m starting to get fed up with these retro styled graphics.
    They are just everywhere these days!

    • NailBombed says:

      Worth of a game ≠ graphics.

    • lordfrikk says:

      As ubiquitous as you annoying naysayer lot.

      • Caiman says:

        Except the naysayers are much fewer in number, but keep getting re-releases.

    • Shooop says:

      BoI was originally a Flash game that took off unexpectedly, so it’s really not fair to lump it together with the cheap nostalgia hipster magnets we see infesting the PC gaming world.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      There’s at least 10 times as many games being made with polygon graphics as pixels. Why doesn’t anybody moan and bitch about those?

  6. The Random One says:

    That blurb under the “News and Things” header is a thing of utter brilliance. Ben, you are forgiven for the Card Hunter headline.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    “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.”

    Can’t say I agree with this, I poured over 70 hours into it; but barely any of that is post-DLC, which I found made the game too long and arsed up the balance too much.

    Then again maybe that’s just my natural limit of how long I’ll play a game, as it’s pretty much the same amount of time I poured into FTL and while I’ve given it a couple of plays since the advanced edition comes out I haven’t fallen into the same compulsive playing that I did first time around.

    So yeah, don’t know whether I’ll bother with this or not but I probably will, it’s been a long time since I’ve played it and it is most definitely “fucking brilliant.”

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    I’m pretty sure “amazing” has now been devalued to the point where it has no meaning.

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      You, sir, have no respect for the game in question. Binding of Isaac is one of the few games that does deserve to be described as amazing. It is an awesome thing of obscene beauty – compelling in it’s premise, confusing in it’s resolution, or lack of resolution, disturbing in it’s implications.

      But hark! Do I speak in a manner altogether over-modern? Methinks You are a man who dost preserve the older meanings of words. Allow me to elucidate in a manner you may find altogether more sensible.

      Binding of Isaac is a game to be feared by all game-fearing men. You may trust my opinion, I have known this game. Not merely some version of tiddlywinks, the implications of the premise put forth by this game extend far beyond the facile explosions and murders of your modern diversions. Unique in presentation, bold in execution, varied in ornamentation, this game was designed to enthrall and enthrall it does.

      Verily I may verify. Never hast a game so deserved to be so described.

  9. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Best upgrade??? The Jar of Doom has killed me more times than it has helped me.

    Awesome music. Looking forward to this.

  10. Premium User Badge

    ProApocalyptic says:

    Ah, The Binding of Isaac. Never have I spent so much time playing a game whose aesthetics I so absolutely hated.

    The pixel style does look a lot better than the original weirdly smooth flash-y version, especially in motion, but I still can’t stand the visual design. That said, I am certainly looking forward to actually playing the new content (probably for far far too many hours).

  11. smeaa mario says:

    All that time this game has stolen from me so far… Will probably be nothing next to what Rebirth will steal away.

  12. anon459 says:

    Personally, I think it looked better before. Everything looks so… cartoony, now. Not that there’s anything wrong with cartoony. I just liked the creepier atmosphere the original had. Those big outlines around sprites seem awfully silly for this game’s atmosphere as well, and the doors look really out of place, especially with the way the sprites jiggle cartoonishly when they open and close. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I play it.

    • Nevard says:

      But… the outlines are thinner than they were on the vector art? And the vector graphics looked much closer to how cartoons literally do actually look than these sprites do.

      You’re allowed to have your preference but the explanations you’ve given don’t make any sense.

      • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

        ‘but the explanations you’ve given don’t make any sense’

        Welcome to the internet, my friend.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    I’ll be interested to see whether this can pique my interest in BoI again. After almost 250 hours, I can barely look at the original game any more.

  14. altum videtur says:

    OH GOOD I WAS WONDERING WHEN I COULD CRY THINGS TO DEATH IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT FASHION
    GOD MODERN GAMES ARE ALL THE SAME SHIT. CHOP MORE ONIONS CRY FURTHER CRY HARDER CRY FASTER
    BACK IN MY DAYS WE HAD FULLY SIMULATED BOOGER PHYSICS

  15. Premium User Badge

    MinisterofDOOM says:

    “Rimmer, you already are one glorious hole.”

  16. waaaaaaaals says:

    Ipecac really wasn’t the best in the original, it could be useful but it could also seriously screw up a run if you ended up with other items like My Reflection.

    Epic Fetus was probably the best, it did the same thing Ipecac did but was a lot more controllable since you used a cursor to pick exactly where the shot hit.

    Falling that, the Dr Fetus item from the base game was safer since you just fired normal bombs with whatever bomb upgrades you had.

  17. Ahtaps says:

    ” It’ll be full of blood and guts and dead animals and religious subtexts!”

    So it’s like the God Of War II launch party? Also, that last picture creeps me out. I once had a horde of tiny spiders crawling across my roof … That night I went a little crazy and none survived the slaughter.

  18. Ridnarhtim says:

    That nest sounds like the worst thing ever. Spiders are bad enough on their own!

  19. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    I still remain completely mystified that BoI is so popular and highly praised. To me it seemed like a crappy Newgrounds flash game with a “lol gross stuff” style that was a poor man’s riff on Jhonen Vasquez.

    Then again I paid all of about £1.50 for the game and its expansion, which I maintain was about £5 too much.

  20. tsff22 says:

    This is going to be so sweet. Here’s hoping owners of the original get a discount.

  21. Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

    hopeflly, the new installment will provide something as disturbing as those gushing with red fanny-for-mouth monsters.