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Have you played... The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

‘Played’ in the title suggests something concluded, but clearly if you did ever play The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (plus its various expansions), you’re almost certainly still playing it. Forever and ever.

I’ve had a few conversations lately with people who just don’t grasp why anyone would stick with Isaac, this 2D roguelite/twin-stick shooter starring a crying child, for more than a few tries. The lumbering movement, the achingly slow shots, the interchangeable rooms – where’s the thrill, where’s the verve? Why would I or anyone else give so much time to this excessively simple world of poor, gore and mutant Catholic imagery?

Oh, you don’t even know. You just don’t. Not until you are a dozen hours deep, and you have wielded powers you’d never even dreamed of. Not until you think of those first couple of slow, early, pew-pew floors as just the blink of an eye, nothing more than a warm-up exercise for what is yet to come. Not until you have memorised the names and abilities of dozens, hundreds of different power-ups.

Not until you have been to Hell. And Heaven. And know to shudder if someone mentions Bloat.

Not until you have lived Isaac for days, weeks, months. Not until it consumes your every waking thought.

You don’t know.

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Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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