The Binding of Isaac (video game)

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The Binding of Isaac
Binding of isaac header.jpg
Designer(s) Edmund McMillen
Florian Himsl
Artist(s) Edmund McMillen
Composer(s) Danny Baranowsky
Engine Adobe Flash
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux
Release date(s) September 28, 2011
Genre(s) Action-adventure, dungeon crawl, roguelike, shooter
Mode(s) Single-player

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 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, where he must fight to survive.

On November 1, 2011, it was added to the Humble Indie Bundle as part of the Humble Voxatron Debut.[1] The game and its expansions were later featured in the Humble Indie Bundle 7.[2] Additionally, the game and its expansions were 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 were inspired by the Biblical story of the Binding of Isaac. According to McMillen, the game touches on themes including religion, children, and mothers.[5]


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 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 of eight floors, the player fights Isaac's mother; after defeating her, Isaac crawls into her womb. Later levels are significantly harder, culminating in a fight against the heart of Isaac's mother on the eighth floor. An optional ninth floor, Sheol contains the boss Satan.


The Binding of Isaac‍ '​s plot is loosely 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, drawings, and even his clothes.

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 13 endings, one after each major boss fight.

Development and release[edit]

Nintendo 3DS port[edit]

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 game websites were outraged at Nintendo's decision.[9]

On July 23, 2015, a 3DS port of The Binding of Isaac was released simultaneously with a Wii U port.

The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb[edit]

"Wrath of the Lamb" redirects here. For the religious apocalypse, see Book of Revelation.

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.[citation needed]

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth[edit]

The 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, with versions for the Wii U, New Nintendo 3DS, and Xbox One released on July 23, 2015. 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 game introduced numerous new playable characters, items, enemies, bosses, challenges, and floor seeds. A content pack, entitled The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth was released for Rebirth in October 2015, adding new alternate chapters, characters and items, as well as wave-based Greed mode.


The Binding of Isaac
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 84.23%[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 84.23%, based on 22 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]


  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". Joystiq. AOL. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Humble Roguelike Weekly Bundle". Humble Bundle. Humble Bundle. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Hillard, Kyle (28 August 2012). "The Binding Of Isaac Is Coming To Consoles". Game Informer. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  5. ^ McMillen, Edmund (November 28, 2012). "Postmortem: McMillen and Himsl's The Binding of Isaac". Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  6. ^ Scheirer, Jason (2011-09-19). "Nightmarish Indie The Binding of Isaac Shooting Up Steam Next Week". Wired. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  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"". Game Informer. Retrieved 2012-03-01. In a follow-up tweet, McMillen confirmed that the decision was "due to the games [sic] 'questionable religious content.' He then took the opportunity to praise Steam for being such an open and supporting platform for independent and digitally distributed games. 
  9. ^ a b "Nintendo won't allow Binding of Isaac on the 3DS eShop". Destructoid. 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-02-29. It's a disgusting and sad situation, and I can only hope that something is done soon to change the way both Nintendo, and the industry in general, views the role between the hardware developers and software artists.(...)"All this stuff has opened my eyes so much more to the freedom devs have with Steam. Censorship like this doesn't pop up that often in games, and there really are only a handful of "banned video games" or highly censored ones. It's nice to have the freedom to publish something that speaks its mind about religion on a platform like Steam." 
  10. ^ Fletcher, JC (7 May 2012). "The Binding of Isaac's Wrath of the Lamb begins May 28". Joystiq. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Marchiafava, Jeff (7 May 2012). "The Binding of Isaac Expansion Dated". Game Informer. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "The Binding of Isaac for PC – GameRankings". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  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". Destructoid. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 

External links[edit]