Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ rebalances annoying bits

A much-needed patch has arrived for the new Binding of Isaac: Rebirth [official site] expansion, Afterbirth+, to fix bugs and balance problems. Yes, this does address some of the irritants that Adam raised in his review. Those flipping nuisance enemy-summoning portals are less common, for one, and the Sister Vis boss battle is less of a chore. I’ve already put a fair few hours into Afterbirth+ myself and welcome these changes. Some parts of Afterbirth+ made Isaac simply worse, so I’m glad it’s being worked on. More patches are in the pipeline too.

Isaac is usually pretty bad at releasing patch notes but last night’s changelog is surprisingly clear on the crashes and bugs it fixes (some would-be players are still complaining about crashes, mind). Frustratingly, the notes entirely gloss over balance tweaks, simply saying “Various adjustments for balance and fairness.” Isaac co-creator Edmund McMillen listed some on Twitter:

All of that sounds good. Sister Vis was a rubbish boss fight, Big Horn’s attacks could seem iffy (though I do like the fight itself), Portals were too common, Greedier mode was too stingy… yup, good stuff.

In the opposite direction, I understand Apollyon’s item-devouring Void was been tweaked so you only get a single use out of single-use active items – no more crunching on Pandora’s Box or Mega Mama for mega-powers.

What frustrates me about Afterbirth+ is how many of its new threats are simply a test of your damage. Certain portal rooms take ages with low damage, not necessarily difficult but certainly time-wasting and dull. Sister Vis telegraphs attacks poorly but I wouldn’t have minded if the fight didn’t take so long. The bullying stone giants aren’t hard, they’re just annoying. Greed mode’s new hard difficulty was basically a test of whether I got game-crushing DPS quickly or not; I’d die within the first few floors run after run then get lucky with a wild damage item or two and blow through it all without much of a challenge. And ‘Bad’ items I might occasionally pick up for funsies, such as Soy Milk or Tiny Planet, become too boring to ever take in Afterbirth+ where damage reigns.

But! On the whole, I have been enjoying Afterbirth+. I’m hopeful that, with time and patches, I’ll settle into seeing it as just part of the wonderful grab bag that is Isaac. I’m trying to avoid staring at individual new elements in isolation, as Isaac is about everything altogether played over time. Yeah, it’s not stellar, but it adds some good ingredients and I’m excited to see what official mod support will enable. I’m still blown away by the huge mod Antibirth – and that was made before official tools even arrived.


  1. Enkidum says:

    Tiny Planet is one of the most powerful items in the game with appropriate synergies! Just with a bit of pumped up shot stats, it’s already basically unstoppable, but with something like a big range stat + Lump of Coal it’s just madness.

    Still haven’t bought Afterbirth+, waiting for more of these issues to be sorted out. But the mods already look pretty cool, shame they’ll stop me achievement hunting.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Ah, I don’t know. Tiny Planet can definitely be good enough and has some nice synergies but there are dozens of items I’d rank above it. It can be fun though!

  2. Afkilla says:

    What was the rush to release this?

  3. Alice O'Connor says:

    Yup, still a cinch to trash Greedier mode with a D20. (Doesn’t have the correct intro because I was returning after quitting mid-fight to load OBS and record that.)

    • Patches the Hyena says:

      Looks like you had Ipecac (and maybe Dr. Fetus)? Ipecac in particular does something weird with boss armour.

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        Ah! I’d assumed both phases were essentially the same guy, only with different attacks, but maybe the second works differently. Perhaps it has no armour? It did EXPLODE.

  4. TheLetterM says:

    So, if I’ve just bought regular Rebirth+Afterbirth, and never played either, would folks advise either a) go ahead and buy Afterbirth+ now b) play without + or c) wait until some more kinks are ironed out of +?