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The Binding of Isaac review

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Author Topic: The Binding of Isaac review  (Read 72 times)
Squire Grooktook
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« on: May 31, 2013, 04:07:41 pm »

My initial infatuation for this game has cooled off a bit since I first played it, and while I still enjoy it very much, I think I can understand a bit better why it's not to some peoples tastes, which is why I've decided to redo this recommendation.

TBOI to me is a long ways off from being a perfect game, but what it is is a fantastic proof of concept for a mash up of shooting action, role playing, and exploration. On top of this, it's also a pretty fun game if you can get into this concept enough.

The games main claim to fame is that it mashes up an arena shooter with a rogue like. It's the fusion of these two genre's that makes the game fun, because taken on their own both elements execution are far too unpolished and simplistic to be entertaining on a standalone basis.

The combat is clunky, there's a slight bit of absolutely arbitrary inertia on your movement that makes things feel a bit slippery, the enemies are simple and range from being entertaining to fight to being mere filler, and the boss battles are wildly unbalanced in difficulty and overall design and memorability.

As an RPG the game is simplistic, exploration is mostly the same throughout, and character customization is basic and extremely unbalanced, more often than not awarding you incredibly over powered item set ups through sheer luck.

It's the way that these two elements come together that's really creative and entertaining. The games system of having a randomly selected power up, a shop with several randomly selected items, and a secret room with a random item or power up, all throughout a randomly generated dungeon perfectly melds rpg style risk/reward choices and action game style brisk pacing. In each playthrough of the games linear progression of stages, I often do find myself contemplating what I should pick up, what I should leave behind, and what I should do with my resources even as I briskly move from room to room battling enemies. If you're into this sort of thing, the sense of immersion and exploration can become very high.

If you play action games for excitement or tight gameplay that just feels good, you may want to look elsewhere. As I said, the games combat is very basic and can become somewhat mundane at times. It can get exciting on the last legs of the journey, where the difficulty spikes rather drastically (assuming you didn't luck out on a overpowered item combination), but these moments are a bit rare. Still, on a moment to moment basis, the game is fairly fun and will only seem boring to those unphased by the unique combination of dungeon crawl and shooter.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about this game is that it's both fun, and it awakens my imagination. This game pretty much proves that you can mash up shooter, roguelike, and exploration and keep the feel of each intact. The fact that in this particular game, each of those three elements are not executed to their full potential, if anything makes me wonder at the possibilities of what a game like this could be like if someone were to give true dedication to each element.

So if you're like me, and you love action, adventure, and role playing, and want to see these genre's brought together in a way that maintains the charm of each, then you'll probably enjoy this game. If however, you want a game that's polished or executes any of those genre's at close to max potential, then you may find the gameplay here to be underwhelming.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2013, 05:10:07 pm by Squire Grooktook » Report Spam   Logged

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Turboweasle
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2013, 06:23:35 pm »

I still haven't beaten it.  I remember that the keyboard controls for it make it nearly unplayable for me, but apart from that it's a pretty fun game.  Gets a bit tiresome when you die and have to start all over every time, though.
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 07:13:29 pm »

Yeah, you should install Joy2Key so that you can convert button presses to key presses. It's even scribbled on the side of the options menu if I recall ("Controller? Use J2k").

I actually like the start from the beginning aspect, it works well with creating a good sense of danger and insuring that each run is unique. The game is kinda designed like an arcade style game in that it's just long enough to be satisfying but just short enough so that you have time to try again if you die on the last stage or something. If I were to fault it, it would probably be that the gameplay isn't quite as tight as most arcade style games to make it as naturally compelling at all times.
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 07:15:52 pm »

I've been using MotioninJoy when I do play it.  I spent all of about ten seconds trying it with the keyboard, lol.

And yes, my biggest gripe stems from how Isaac moves.  Like you described in your original post, you have momentum.  I hate that more than anything.  If I tell you to go somewhere, go there.  When I stop telling you to go somewhere, stop.
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2013, 08:25:17 pm »

Yeah. You get used to it after playing a bit, but it's still a good example of substandard game design present in the game.

That sort of thing might work for a platformer like Mario or Sonic, where it's more about the visceral thrill of running and jumping, but for a bullet dodging focused shooter, you NEED 100% to make possible those last second dodges or stop short in front of hazards. It's what that style of gameplay is built on, and adding inertia to your movement completely contradicts that.

Like I said, I think the gameplay is fun, and the mash up genre's is done pretty cleverly, I just think that in a lot of ways it shows that this was just a for fun project the creator had on the side, and that he didn't polish it quite as much as he could have, despite all the potential present from the concept.
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