Unbinding Isaac: Ed Spills The Beans

Edmund McMillen’s groovy looking roguelike thingThe Binding Of Isaac – is due out on Steam in the next two weeks, so it’s about time he gave us a heads up of what we might expect. Fortunately, he has:

Here’s his in depth blog post, where he discusses some of the mechanics like randomly generated levels, how the combat and items work, and how the bosses will have random elements too. Exciting stuff. It’s only going to set you back a cool five US dollars, and it’s out on both PC and Mac. I can’t wait.

He’s answering questions in the comments there too, so go and prod his brain with any queries, comments or concerns you might have.


  1. Rowsdower says:

    I just want to say: being named Isaac myself I find the concept of this game doubly creepy. Particuarly after watching the steam trailer:

    link to store.steampowered.com

  2. PanzerVaughn says:

    My dreams, and quiet moments in the dark are haunted by that final “IiiiiISAAAAAAAAC” *GOATTHING LIGHTNINNGFLASH* from the trailer. Note: This is not a complaint. =P

  3. Dana says:

    Cant wait. Rougelikes are my forte.

  4. kregg says:

    I’m sorry to be that guy, but when Ed says “PC”, does that mean PC – i.e. Windows and Linux – or does that just mean Windows?

    I’m genuinely curious and would probably buy the game if it didn’t come on Linux, but if it did… :O

    • Zogtee says:

      Pfft, everyone knows Linux doesn’t count!

      Edit: Wait, what? You would buy the game if it didn’t come on Linux, but if it did… What?

    • kregg says:

      I would probably end up buying both, thus giving Team Meat more dosh.

      Seems fair enough – they support my favourite platform, I’ll support their favourite bank account.

  5. Kaira- says:

    I don’t really see how this game is a roguelike, it seems more like NES-era Zelda to me.

    [E:] Well, outside of randomly generated levels and permadeath.

    • Dominic White says:

      … Well, what other elements would you attribute to a roguelike, other than having randomly generated dungeons, a focus on looting for survival, and permadeath?

    • Kaira- says:

      Turn-based combat and RPG-like character development system. This doesn’t mean that real-time games couldn’t be roguelike-y, but for me, a “pure” roguelike is something akin to ADoM, Rogue, NetHack and Stone Soup.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Not to go all Wizardry, but once you have action-based Zelda-y combat, you’ve ceased to be much like Rogue. At that point, you’ve diluted the term so much it’s no longer a helpful descriptor.

    • Dominic White says:

      Eh, one of my favourite rouglikes – Baroque (from the PS1/Saturn era, remade later for Wii/PS2) is a realtime roguelike. It’s a pretty flexible genre definition, and it doesn’t really hinge on being turn-based, much like how an Immersive Sim doesn’t have to be first person all the time and obsessed with crate-stacking.

    • TCM says:

      Spelunky isn’t a roguelike, then?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Google doesn’t find many notable people calling it that. “It’s an action platformer instead of a top-down RPG. ”

      link to spelunky.wikia.com

      Kind of an important distinction, no?

      There’s a very clear, distinct genre of roguelikes. NetHack, ADoM, etc. And then there are a ton of games which borrow a distinctive (but hardly unique) feature or two from the genre, which are somewhat inexplicably also being described as roguelikes.

    • TCM says:

      Because genres are hard, fast distinctions with no internal variation or crossover.

      Wait, what?

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s times like that that make me realise that, despite 25+ years of it being my primary hobby, I am merely someone who really likes videogames and not actually a nerd.

      I mean, Rogue was my very first RPG. It taught me to read ferchrissakes. K is for Kestrel (a horrible cave-dwelling bird monster) and Q is for Quaff, which is a fancy word for ‘drink’.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’m not sure how something can be a Roguelike if it’s nothing like Rogue. In this case the only similarities appear to be the randomly generated content, which isn’t a feature unique to Roguelikes. Otherwise, it looks like Zelda reimagined as a twin-stick arena shooter.

    • Dominic White says:

      Rogue is defined fairly well as a loot-driven, permadeath survival dungeon crawl with randomly generated environments. It doesn’t have to be turn-based. Nor does it have to have an overhead perspective – Dungeon Hack back in the 90s was first-person AND realtime, and is widely regarded as one of the first big commercial roguelikes.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      “randomly generated content, which isn’t a feature unique to Roguelikes”
      now that is a bit stupid and seems only to be there so you can put on your videogame genre border guard uniform and swirl around your videogame genres border guard baton. yes other music genres besides rock have guitars but rock is in a large part defined by guitars, like rogue is defined in a large part by random content. (Actually the wiki says: permadeth, random dungeons, turn based combat).
      And although if you go by the wiki, isaac may not be technically called a roguelike, for me it is more a roguelike than desktop dungeons.

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      While there are many compelling reasons to refer to games such as Spelunky as roguelikes, in general usage the term hasn’t really broadened past games such as Nethack, Dungeon Crawl, etc., i.e. top-down, turn-based exploration games. For example, if I told someone who had never heard of Spelunky that it is a roguelike, they would probably expect something like Nethack. There are enough new games being made in the classic mold that this is a perfectly reasonable assumption. But if I told them it is a “roguelike platformer”, that would actually give them a pretty good idea of what to expect.

      Practically, I think that games that take inspiration from roguelikes while moving away from classic roguelike designs are best described in hybrid terms like that. A real-time roguelike, or a roguelike platformer, etc. Diablo could be described as a real-time action-focused roguelike, for example. I would probably describe The Binding of Isaac as a roguelike arena shooter, or as “roguelike meets Zelda”.

    • Mctittles says:

      Maybe more “diablo-like”? Since diablo was based on rogue-likes…

  6. Robin_G says:

    This looks a little more like my speed, the super hard platforming of meat boy never appealed to me. And a great price too.

  7. Lambchops says:

    Looks like it could be pretty good. Sounds like the randomnisation is well thought out and the design of the characters is distinctive and somewhat creepy.

    From the trailer my only concern is that while the game looks quite fun, i’m mildly concerned that compared to the character design the design of the levels just looks a tad . . . bland. Hopefully the game does enough to hook me in and forget about that or things are a bit more interesting than the trailer lets on.

    So casually optimistic and seeing as other McMillan games have been good I’ll probably buy this from the off.

  8. Randomer says:

    I’m really interested in the game play, but I’m quite turned off by the aesthetic. It’s all grey, brown, red, and pink, and all the characters are (intentionally) quite grotesque. Even if it fits the premise well, I don’t think I could enjoy playing a game so visually repugnant. Maybe if someone makes a Legend of Zelda skin mod for it…

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      The artstyles made me worry that i’ll restrict its audience alot. Some people would find shooting aborted fetuses which explode in a cloud of flies which then eat poop and spit blood at you might be found innaproppriate, or possibly even disturbing! “I” will thoroughly enjoy it, but if it was more universally appealing it could be slightly less/just as fun, and rake in more cashbucks.

      TeamMeat having more Cashbucks is something everyone can find more appealing.

    • Skabooga says:

      I feel this way about the visual aesthetic as well; just don’t think I could play it without a dampening of my spirits.

      But for those who find it appealing, I’m sure they’re thrilled to have a game come out catered to their tastes, a design not often seen in other games.

  9. Brise Bonbons says:

    Drat, I really don’t like twin stick shooters at all. Might have to pass on this one…

    Ah well, Dungeon of Dreadmor is more what I’m looking for from the roguelike-like experience anyway. Best of luck to this game, tho, it seems like it deserves to do well.

  10. Janus says:

    i think this game would be better as an emotional cinematic first-person shooter with cutscenes written by best-selling author Richard Morgan