The Binding of Issac Afterbirth+ on the Nintendo Switch is a port from one of PC gaming’s most popular rogue-like games. It was developed by Nicalis and it is up to date in terms of DLC and is uncensored, which is something to discuss further down. It is also best suited for the Nintendo Switch and the definitive version of the game.
For those who have never experienced The Binding of Issac, it is essentially a twin-stick shooter rogue-like with heavy horror/religious elements that are perfectly melded together. The game includes an enormous amount of items, enemies and bosses. You can play the game for hours and still not come close to hitting a hundred items.
This is due to the fact the the game is entirely procedurally-generated and so are the items in the seed. Simple way to put it, when you start a new run, you pause the game and the seed in the menu will correspond to the rooms and items you encounter. According to the game box, there is an infinite amount of variations.
The gameplay is very straightforward, you start as a default Issac in a maze; as you walk into a new room, you must kill all the enemies before every door reopens. Each room can contain anything from a lone treasure chest to a room of nightmarish creatures that can only be imagined by Edmund McMillen and his team. Go through every room, find any item that can help before you eventually enter the boss room.
This gameplay loop fits the Nintendo Switch perfectly. Each level can take less than 5 minutes to get through and is great during quick breaks at work or class. In those 5 minutes, you can get your first few items and be ready to enter the ominous looking boss room anywhere you are.
Here you fight one of over a ninety bosses that can make a grown man cry. After you defeat them, you open a trap door that allows you to delve deeper. At the end of the road, you will have to face the ultimate evil, your mother.
Yes, your mother.
The plot is simple and is quickly explained as you start the game. Your mother hears the voice of God, he tells her that Issac is corrupted and must be killed to be cleansed. Issac runs away scared and finds a trap door leading to the basement and safety. Issac quickly realizes that there are darker secrets the deeper he goes and that his mother is not the worst of his problems.
Which leads to why I was relieved to see that Nintendo hadn’t censored the game in anyway. The game takes a twisted look at Christianity and blends it with horror, while adding the cartoonish art style. This results in a game where the characters have a cute look (especially the eyes) in one instance, just to have them ripped out in the next.
These scenes of graphic violence and twisted Christianity are at the core of The Binding of Issac, and if family friendly Nintendo would have that removed from the game, this would have been a definite pass. Fortunately, the game is complete with all its lovable gore, satanic rituals and anguish.
While I believe the Nintendo Switch version is the definitive way to play, the price of $40 is too high. It does contain all the DLC and an unlimited amount of replayability, many who have had no experience with the game might only see a $40 twin-stick shooter. Console-only players only other chance to experience The Binding of Issac outside of the PC would be the Nintendo 3DS version. But with games like Arms, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2, choosing The Binding of Issac over one of those is a difficult choice to make.
Still, if you want to have a great time during a short break; this is a perfect game to play. If you have a friend with you, you can also play the entire run together, but at the cost of Issac’s health. All you have to do is remove the Joy-cons and the second player can control a small ghost in exchange for one of Issac’s heart.
There are leaderboards and daily runs that players around the world and friends in the area can challenge. A stats viewer that lets you see all the items, trinkets, enemies and bosses you’ve encountered. You can also see all the endings you’ve gotten, which there are plenty.
If you want a game that properly utilizes all of the Switch’s potential and has the best bang for you buck, you won’t go wrong with Issac. Its dark sense of humor, addictive gameplay and variety will keep you playing until your eyes melt.
Just know, its not for the faint of heart and you will die. Alot.