No More Tears – The Binding Of Isaac: Afterbirth Is Out

I quit. For the next three or so months, I have better things to do than write about video games: I shall be playing the one and only game, the game of games, the game’s game, The Binding of Issac: Rebirth [official site]. The roguelikelike shooter’s expansion ‘Afterbirth’ has just come out on Steam, adding a new character, hundreds of new items, enemies, bosses, areas, room layouts, and so on. Oh, plus a whole new mode, and something no day of my life will be complete without: daily runs.

Top tip: look for the ‘import data’ option on the save select screen or you, like me, may panic for a few minutes about losing all your unlocks.

‘New Stuff’ is fairly typical for expansions, but it’s all so very exciting in Isaac. One single item might change entirely how you play, especially when they start combining with other items, and one single enemy or room layout that might be easy on one run might be a real threat on the next. Even your own items can mean everything on one run but ruin the next (get tae fuck, Bob’s Brain). It’s a big load of ever-surprising chaos, made more interesting and delightful and awful the more strange things you throw into it. Even changes that might seem minute, like adding new long, thing rooms can be huge. Throw in stuff like new item combinations, new forms you can transform into, and new enemies and bosses to go up against, and I’m very excited to see how much changes.

That’s why I quit. Important business. I’ve got to train for the daily runs. Each day, all players will get to play the same run on the same seed, with one shot to climb the online leaderboards. I quit, bye.

Afterbirth will run you £7.99 on Steam. Folks who already owned Rebirth were offered a 40% discount on pre-ordering, but that’s over now.

38 Comments

  1. Procrastination Giant says:

    Looks like the folks over at the humble store still offer the pre-order price until november 2nd and as of right now steam also displays the 6.66 pricetag. Wouldn’t be surprised if they kept that price until the end of the halloween sale, really.

    Not that it matters, since i’m pretty sure that anyone who owns Rebirth already had preordered it anyway, because… duh

  2. Siimon says:

    If only it had a proper co-op mode :(

  3. lomaxgnome says:

    Before the inevitable pedantic argument on what is or isn’t “roguelike,” I hereby declare we shall forever call the genre “Isaaclike,” because it’s a far better game than Rogue ever was, and much more worthy of emulating.

    • Xzi says:

      Yes, but as blasphemous as it is, better games than Isaac have been released in the genre as well. Ziggurat still takes the cake for me.

      • sansenoy says:

        Better than isaac??? Sorry, but I’m not seeing it

        • Xzi says:

          Rebirth and Afterbirth have improved Isaac by adding more stuff, but Ziggurat had pretty much infinite unlockable/available stuff without needing any re-releases or DLC. It’s also in 3D as opposed to 2D, and it actually uses that 3D space to its fullest and in interesting ways. Rooms are different sizes and with different obstacles/traps/vertical levels, whereas the rooms in Isaac stay mostly static in some of these categories.

          • lomaxgnome says:

            I’d been curious about Ziggurat, and your endorsement has moved it way up my wishlist. Will definitely be looking to pick it up during one of the upcoming sales.

          • Ninjaspar10 says:

            The main problem with Ziggurat (if you can call it that) is that it’s too balanced. With Isaac you can go from a run with terrible tear stats causing you to scrape a victory by taking the negative and finishing on Isaac to a run where you blitz through Mega Satan with a couple of shots. Ziggurat doesn’t have that variance, and I think that hurts its replay value. If there was a chance of getting a gamebreaking run there would be a greater incentive to play. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by Isaac’s casual synergies and accessible powerhouses. I would still recommend both to any fans of the rouge lite genre but Isaac is a game I play to have fun while I play Ziggurat for a challenge. Just my 2c.

  4. rondertaker says:

    farewell my life, i did not need thee

  5. grrrz says:

    okay you win. I’m installing steam.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Woo! I just finished the first daily run and did pretty well, though there were a couple of items on the first level which made it a pushover. I guess they wanted to ease us in with the first one.

    There weren’t too many surprises in the daily run. I’m about to have a proper boff at it to see what new goodies I can unlock.

  7. liquidsoap89 says:

    I did the first new challenge (21 I think) and it took me about 45 minutes to do one single run. I then unlocked about 15 achievements… It felt good. Really good.

    And just like that the addiction is back!

  8. Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

    Now.. I don’t want to upset the locals, but I just don’t get it. I didn’t see anything in Isaac I hadnt seem in Zelda dungeons/boss battles 25-odd years ago… Someone tell me what I’m missing?

    • JFS says:

      Shit demons, see above.

    • metric day says:

      Hundreds of hilarious, massively fun powerup combos. Addictive gameplay above all else! I sniffed at it initially as well but can’t deny it’s massive charm and appeal…

    • Xzi says:

      Zelda wasn’t procedurally generated and didn’t have hundreds of thousands of different gameplay/map possibilities in every run. In other words, Binding of Isaac is infinitely replayable…you really only need to play each Zelda game once.

      • Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

        Levels being procedurally generated can hardly be a selling point, especially given the basic level design on show here.. Shit demons sound more interesting but… I donno. I played it a while, and with knowledge of the vast sales figures, all I could think was that the designer had been extremely lucky… Hold on… I must be wrong. I’ll give it another bash.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      No worries, I don’t get it either. I’m jealous that people seem to love it, where I thought it was merely okay.

    • golem09 says:

      Items. Zelda has like 10, Binding of Isaac about 500. With WILDLY different effects.

    • liquidsoap89 says:

      Other than the hundreds of items, and the wildly different style, you’re not really far off… But the Zelda’s of old are really good, so having a modern version of that with much more randomness is fantastic.

    • JuJuCam says:

      The moment to moment gameplay is somewhat Zelda-esque, although the more difficult enemies throw a slightly harder bullet-hell experience than Zelda ever threw at you, but the higher level strategic play involves careful curation of your build to maximise synergies between item pickups. There’s a definite appeal to knowledge hounds and gameplay scientists that want to explore combinations and many items and item combinations have absurdly overpowered effects that are a joy to behold after struggling through to get to them. Add to that the vast array of unlockables compelling you to complete the game in many different ways and it’s honestly just very rich and deep in game systems, in a way that few other games match.

      It’s not a game that I’d recommend to everyone, but there’s a meatier slice of game here than you’d think there would be at first glance. But if you’ve played a half dozen runs to completion and it hasn’t hooked you, I don’t think it’s necessarily a taste you’d acquire by running up against it repeatedly.

    • Rhodokasaurus says:

      You’re not missing anything, unless you really want a shit/piss-themed Zelda game that you can pour hours at a time into without making any progress.

  9. Jigowatt says:

    Importing saves from Rebirth appears to be broken at the moment (the post-it notes showing characters’ progress are completely wrong). I don’t want to start Afterbirth until I know I’m playing on the correct save file, so I guess I’ll have to wait for a patch. It’s a shame, as I was really looking forward to playing this tonight.

    • 2lab says:

      You need to complete a run to fix it, go play.

    • colorlessness says:

      Fixed by the day 1 patch, re-import the rebirth save and the post-its should be legit (you do lose any progress on afterbirth stuff by doing this).

  10. metric day says:

    Oh well, there goes my supposed “productivity.”

  11. welverin says:

    Bye, Alice. See you next year.

  12. Babymech says:

    This intro text is so goddamn True. I always get the sense that BoI gets remarkably little press compared to how many thousands of hours are lost to it every month. It’s such a fucking game. It’s quintessentially, fundamentally, soulfully Game.

    Still not installing Steam though.

  13. Xan says:

    Currently it’s still buggy, even after the “emergency patch” give it a few more days until you play it for all the bugs to be ironed out.

  14. Jigowatt says:

    I really hope they patch in an option to turn off that annoying voice that insists on announcing every pill, card etc you activate. Can’t believe they’d put something like that in with no way to disable it!

  15. 2lab says:

    I’m not finding the fun in this update, the new greed mode is very (foolishly) easy and the standard game has become even more luck based.

  16. Jalan says:

    Ridiculon’s music for the DLC is (supposed) to be included if you’ve previously paid for Rebirth’s soundtrack on Steam.

  17. QTDeFrank says:

    It’s still $6.66 on humblebundle.com

  18. Stevostin says:

    This is passed me. I played the original game, finished it, and was done with it. How one could find any interest playing it again puzzles me. Why ? How ? What’s the reward ?

    • KaiUno says:

      The reward is getting there again and again. The odds of that happening aren’t that big and there’s a million and one ways it can go. There are hundreds of items, all with different synergies. There’s about 20 different endings. You’d be amazed at how deep this rabbit hole goes.

      Granted, it’s still just “fight yourself through 10 levels of hell” every single time, but I’m still unlocking shit 40 hours in.

    • Babymech says:

      If you actually ‘finished’ the original, ie beat it again and again to unlock and then beat the actual final boss sets, then you’ve already replayed BoI repeatedly just to get a little further, to see the next combination of items, and to find and beat a new challenge. This is exactly what Afterbirth brings to the table – any enjoyment that you found in the original BoI can be found in Afterbirth.

      Of course, it might be the case that you just defeated Mom after one or two runs in the original BoI and then uninstalled the game, in which case I’d say you ‘finished’ Act 1 of the game, and the game mechanic just isn’t for you.