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Description: When Isaac’s mother starts hearing the voice of God demanding a sacrifice be made to prove her faith, Isaac escapes into the basement facing droves of deranged enemies, lost brothers and sisters, his fears, and eventually his mother.
The Binding of Isaac is an indie roguelike video game designed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl, initially released in 2011 for Microsoft Windows; the game was later ported for OS X, and Linux operating systems. The game’s title and plot are inspired by the Biblical story of the Binding of Isaac: after Isaac’s 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. Players control Isaac or one of six other unlockable characters through a procedurally generated dungeon in a roguelike manner, fashioned after those of The Legend of Zelda, defeating monsters in real-time combat while collecting items and power-ups to defeat bosses and eventually Isaac’s mother.
The game was the result of a week-long game jam between McMillen and Himsl to develop a The Legend of Zelda-inspired roguelike that allowed McMillen to showcase his feelings about both positive and negative aspects of religion that he had come to discover from conflicts between his Catholic and born-again Christian family members while growing up. McMillen had considered the title a risk but one he could take after the financial success of Super Meat Boy, and released it without much fanfare to Steam in September 2011, not expecting many sales. The game soon gained popularity partially as a result of various Let’s Play videos showcasing the title. McMillen and Himsl released an expansion “Wrath of the Lamb” in May 2012, but were limited from further expansion due to limitations with the Flash platform. They had started working with Nintendo in 2012 to release a 3DS version, but Nintendo later backed out of the deal, citing controversy over the game’s religious themes.
Developer Nicalis worked with McMillen in 2014 to complete a remake of the game, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, bringing additional features that McMillen had planned that exceeded Flash’s limitation, as well as to improve the game’s graphics and enable ports for other systems beyond personal computers, including PlayStation 4 and Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo Switch. McMillen is collaborating with James Id to released The Legend of Bum-bo in late 2017, which serves as a prequel to The Binding of Isaac.
The Binding of Isaac has been well-received, with critics praising the game’s roguelike nature to encourage repeated playthroughs. By July 2014, McMillen reported over 3 million copies had been sold. The game has been said to contribute to renewed interest in the roguelike genre from both players and developers.