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The Binding of Isaac (video game)

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Subject: Humble Bundle, Gish (video game), Danny Baranowsky, Criticism of Christianity, Blocks That Matter
Collection: 2011 Video Games, Abortion in Fiction, Action-Adventure Games, Cancelled Nintendo 3Ds Games, Criticism of Christianity, Cross-Dressing in Media, Dungeon Crawler Video Games, Flash Games, Humble Bundle Games, Indie Video Games, Lgbt-Related Video Games, Linux Games, Os X Games, Roguelike Video Games, Role-Playing Video Games, Shooter Video Games, Single-Player-Only Video Games, Suicide in Fiction, Video Games Developed in Austria, Video Games Developed in the United States, Video Games Featuring Female Antagonists, Video Games with Expansion Packs, Windows Games, Works About Child Abuse
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The Binding of Isaac (video game)

This article is about the 2011 video game. For the 2014 remake, see The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.
The Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac

Publisher(s) Headup Games
Designer(s) Edmund McMillen,
Florian Himsl
Composer(s) Danny Baranowsky
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows,
Playstation Vita
Release date(s) September 28, 2011
Genre(s) Action-adventure, dungeon crawl
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution CD-ROM, digital distribution

The Binding of Isaac is a 2011 independent video game designed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. It was released on Steam on September 28, 2011. Players control a crying naked child named Isaac or one of six other unlockable characters. After his mother receives a message from God demanding the life of her son as proof of her faith, Isaac flees into the monster-filled basement of their home.

On November 1, 2011, it was added to the Humble Indie Bundle as part of the Humble Voxatron Debut.[1] The game and downloadable content was later featured in the Humble Indie Bundle 7.[2] Additionally, the game and downloadable content was made available on the Humble Roguelike Weekly Bundle in January 2014.[3] Developer Nicalis worked with McMillen to complete a remake of the game The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth which was released on 4 November 2014, bringing additional features that the developer could not implement in the original Flash version.[4]

The game's title and plot are composed of references to the Biblical story known as the Binding of Isaac. According to McMillen, the game touches on dark, adult themes including child abuse, gender identity, infanticide, neglect, suicide, abortion, and how religion might negatively affect a child; all concepts which video games generally avoid.[5]


  • Gameplay 1
  • Plot 2
  • Development and release 3
    • Declined Nintendo 3DS port 3.1
    • The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb 3.2
    • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth 3.3
  • Reception 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Gameplay screenshot of The Binding of Isaac, showing Isaac attacking (center) and two enemies (top left and top right)

The Binding of Isaac is a top-down 2D dungeon crawler game in which the player controls Isaac or one of six other unlockable characters as they explore the dungeons located in Isaac's room's basement. The game's mechanics and presentation is similar to the dungeons of The Legend of Zelda, while incorporating random, procedurally-generated levels.[6] On each floor of the basement dungeon, the player must fight monsters in a room before continuing onto the next room. Along the way, the player can collect money to buy equipment from shopkeepers, keys to unlock special treasure rooms, and new weapons and power-ups to strengthen their chances against the enemies. Each floor of the dungeon includes a boss which the player must defeat before continuing to the next level. On the sixth floor of eight, the player fights Isaac's mother, and Isaac crawls into her womb after defeating her. Further levels are significantly harder, culminating in a fight against Isaac's mother's heart on the eighth floor. An optional ninth floor contains the boss Satan.


The Binding of Isaac '​s plot is inspired by the biblical story of the same name.[7] Isaac, a child, and his mother live in a small house on a hill, both happily keeping to themselves, with Isaac drawing pictures and playing with his toys, and his mother watching Christian broadcasts on television. Isaac's mother then hears "a voice from above", stating her son is corrupted with sin, and needs to be saved. It asks her to remove all that was evil from Isaac, in an attempt to save him. His mother obliges, taking away his toys, pictures, game console and even his clothes and some scenes point to circumcision.

The voice once again speaks to Isaac's mother, stating that Isaac must be cut off from all that is evil in the world. Once again, his mother obliges, and locks Isaac inside his room. Once more, the voice speaks to Isaac's mother. It states she has done well, but it still questions her devotion, and requests she sacrifice her son. She obliges, grabbing a butcher's knife from the kitchen and walking to Isaac's room. Isaac, watching through a sizable crack in his door, starts to panic. He finds a trapdoor hidden under his rug and jumps in, just before his mother opens his bedroom door. Isaac then puts the paper he was drawing onto his wall, which becomes the title screen.

During the game's loading points, Isaac is shown curled up in a ball, crying. His thoughts are visible, ranging among rejection from his mother and humiliation from his peers to a scenario involving his own death. The game features at least 13 endings.

Development and release

Declined Nintendo 3DS port

The developers had tweeted that the game would receive a port to the Nintendo 3DS via the Nintendo eShop and were waiting for approval from Nintendo. Nintendo later rejected the game because of "questionable religious content".[8][9]

This decision brought the game's developer Edmund McMillen to praise the Steam platform and the freedom it gave to the publishers regardless of the game content (compared to Nintendo), and several gaming websites were outraged at Nintendo's decision.[9]

The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb

An expansion to the game, entitled Wrath of the Lamb, was released through Steam on May 28, 2012.[10] The expansion adds 70% more content to the original, and contains more than 10 bosses, over 100 items, over 40 unlocks, two additional endings, and two additional optional levels.[11] This expansion added new "alternate" floors, which can replace the normal Basement, Caves, Depths and Womb to Cellar, Catacombs, Necropolis, and the Utero. These floors contain harder enemies, and a different set of bosses. Other features include a new item type, Trinkets, which have a variety of passive or triggered effects when carried, as well as new room types and the addition of a "Super Secret Room" to each randomly generated floor.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

A remake of The Binding of Isaac is The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, developed by Nicalis and Edmund McMillen. It was released on November 4, 2014 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita. Unlike The Binding of Isaac, Rebirth was not made using the Flash engine, which had previously imposed several limitations on the game, such as the inability to save and quit mid-session.


The Binding of Isaac
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 84.89%[12]
Metacritic 84/100[13]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 9/10[14]
Game Informer 8/10[15]
GameSpy 4.5/5 stars[16]
IGN 7.5/10[17]

The Binding of Isaac received generally favorable reviews from game critics. On the review aggregator GameRankings, the game has an average score of 84.89%, based on 19 reviews.[12] On Metacritic, the game has an average of 84 out of 100 based on 30 reviews.[13]

In Germany the game has received an age 16+ rating because of potentially blasphemous content.[18]

As of April 2013 the game has sold over two million copies.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "The Humble Voxatron Debut (pay what you want and help charity)". The Humble Voxatron Debut. Humble Bundle. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Fletcher, JC (19 December 2012). "Humble Indie Bundle 7: Dungeon Defenders, Binding of Isaac, Indie Game the Movie, more".  
  3. ^ "Humble Roguelike Weekly Bundle".  
  4. ^ Hillard, Kyle (28 August 2012). "The Binding Of Isaac Is Coming To Consoles".  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Scheirer, Jason (2011-09-19). "Nightmarish Indie The Binding of Isaac Shooting Up Steam Next Week".  
  7. ^ "Youtube video of the trailer". December 2011. 
  8. ^ Kollar, Phil (2012-02-29). """Binding Of Isaac Blocked From 3DS Due To "Questionable Religious Content.  
  9. ^ a b "Nintendo won't allow Binding of Isaac on the 3DS eShop".  
  10. ^ Fletcher, JC (7 May 2012). "The Binding of Isaac's Wrath of the Lamb begins May 28".  
  11. ^ Marchiafava, Jeff (7 May 2012). "The Binding of Isaac Expansion Dated".  
  12. ^ a b "The Binding of Isaac for PC - GameRankings".  
  13. ^ a b "The Binding of Isaac for PC Metacritic Score". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  14. ^ Teti, John (7 October 2011). "The Binding of Isaac Review". EuroGamer. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  15. ^ Biessener, Adam (3 October 2011). "Equal Parts Gross, Disturbing, And Fun - The Binding of Isaac - PC". Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Meunier, Nathan (30 September 2011). "GameSpy: The Binding of Isaac Review - Page 1". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  17. ^ Johnson, Neilie (11 October 2011). "The Binding of Isaac Review - PC Review at IGN". IGN PC. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "16er-Einstufung wegen... Blasphemie" [16 rating because of... blasphemy] (in German). 4 January 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  19. ^ Makedonski, Brett (19 April 2013). "The Binding of Isaac broke two million sales".  

External links

  • Official website
  • The Binding of Isaac at Steam
  • demoThe Binding of Isaac at Newgrounds
  • The Binding of Isaac at GameFAQs
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