Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl, co-creators and designers of the popular roguelike action-adventure game “The Binding of Isaac,” have enjoyed a steadily growing fan base since the game’s initial introduction to the market in the fall of 2011.
With the release of the game’s latest downloadable content pack “Afterbirth+,” an add-on to the series’ improved title version “The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth,” 97 percent of 53,150 user reviews on Steam have been overwhelmingly positive in the two years the version has been on the market.
Based on McMillen’s personal experiences of living within an extremely religious family setting, the game is inspired by the biblical tale The Binding of Isaac. This story is outlined within Genesis 22 of the Hebrew Bible in which God requests the sacrifice of Abraham’s second son, Isaac.
The opening sequence of the game details the life of Isaac, a young boy who lives in a house at the top of a hill with his devoutly Christian mother.
The cut scene reveals to players that Isaac’s mother, often referred to within the game as simply “Mom,” hears a voice from above urging her to kill her son to prove her love and devotion to God.
The sequence comes to an end when Isaac descends into the basement through a trapdoor hidden beneath his rug, introducing players to the gameplay area of leveled floors, passive and active enemies and bosses increasing in difficulty as the player descends deeper into the earth.
Character selection includes a number of references to biblical figures such as the fallen angel Azazel, the demon Lilith and the traitor Judas. The “Afterbirth+” expansion spotlights a new character, Apollyon, an allusion to the Hebrew term “Abaddon,” or “destruction.”
In addition to Apollyon, “Afterbirth+” features new sets of pickups and enemies: four bosses, two character transformations, 67 new items, 27 new trinkets and dozens of monsters.
Players can also enjoy improved modding support, a new “Greed” gameplay mode, 40 new achievements and a premiere final chapter.
Runs featured on the game’s original challenge list are perfect for the player who wants to test the waters before diving deeper down into the basement.
New add-ons to the list offered by “Afterbirth+” give the more experienced players an opportunity to test their skills in challenges such as “Onan’s Streak,” “The Guardian” and “Ultra Hard.”
With its unsettlingly adorable characters and a storyline unlike many other dungeon crawlers to hit Steam’s featured list, “The Binding of Isaac” offers a gaming experience both seasoned and novice players can enjoy. A world of danger, a test of skill and plenty of monsters await you beneath the trapdoor.