For those of you living under a rock, The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is the final DLC for one of the most awesome indie games ever. If you are unaware of The Binding of Isaac, it is a top-down roguelike dungeon crawler by Ed McMillen, the same guy behind Super Meat Boy, and Florian Himsl. This is a brutally difficult game, but it is one of the grandfathers of modern day roguelikes, and it continues to set the standard for content, challenges, and enemies.
So how does Repentance add to the already stellar reputation of The Binding of Isaac? There is only one way to find out! Let’s dive in.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is the final form of The Binding of Isaac. This is the finale and the end of poor Isaac’s suffering and pain. The story continues from the original premise, and that is that Isaac’s mother, through “divine” revelation, chooses to kill her son for God (Very similar to the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac).
Isaac, in a panic after learning what is about to become of him, finds a basement door under the rug in his room, and he dives down in an attempt to save himself. Unfortunately, what is in the basement is beyond him, and Mom is waiting impatiently to fulfill her duty.
This is an incredibly haunting and terrifying tale of a religious extremist following the insane voices in their head. The casual willingness to not even question the decision of an unjust request but agree to it immediately is scary beyond measure, and it gives The Binding of Isaac: Repentance a crazy story right from the get-go. Diving deeper and deeper into the basement and what follows adds more terror to Isaac’s poor story as he seeks redemption, or, as the final DLC title so eloquently puts it, sharing his repentance and earning favor from the unjust God.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is chock full of religious iconography that shows just how deep into the religious bubble Isaac and his mother existed in. It is a sobering story that honestly does not get enough praise for just how scary it actually is and why we want Isaac to live so desperately.
But for those who have already been to hell and back in previous versions, what does The Binding of Isaac: Repentance offer that is worth the return? And is this an indie game on Nintendo Switch that justifies a proper $60 price tag ($39.99 for Afterbirth+ and $19.99 for Repentance DLC)? The short answer: HELL YEAH. I mean, of course it depends on whether or not you are already a fan of the series, but for those who have already invested hours and hours of their time in the depths of Isaac’s basement, Repentance brings a slew of new content, including:
- The fan mod The Binding of Isaac: Antibirth integrated into the game as official content!
- A newly reworked co-op mode that allows up to four players locally to play as actual characters instead of babies (Screenshot below)
- 130+ new items (more than 700 items in total and some are from Antibirth)
- A full alternate path with brand new chapters and two new final bosses and endings (one from Antibirth)
- 100+ new enemies
- 25 new bosses
- 19 new playable characters
- 10 new challenges
- 5,000+ new room designs
To clarify, there are 2 brand new playable characters, but each existing character now also has a “tainted” version, including the new Bethany and Jacob & Esau, which brings the grand total of new playable characters to 19.
Does that not sound like a deal to you? The saga of The Binding of Isaac from its original incarnation to Rebirth, to Afterbirth, to Afterbirth+, and now ultimately to Repentance has grown into one of the largest indie games ever made. To put it plainly, This is a humongous package, and The Binding of Isaac has never felt better.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance basically picks up where Afterbirth+ left off, and it is in these new final bosses and new endings that we learn the true nature of things. Ed McMillen has not left any thing out in this final chapter, and it is here that we see more relatable storytelling and lore explaining. This is truly the harrowing ending we knew might come but never really wanted. The reasoning behind Isaac’s tears, pain, and nightmares.
It goes without saying that Repentance does up the ante a bit when it comes to expectation and difficulty. With each passing version, the gauntlet extended a little longer, and this time around is no different. Reaching the very end requires some strong gameplay, good reflexes, and wise item management, because it was already a challenge beating the game the various ways it expected of you before. This time, however, is the final challenge and the real icing on the cake. I usually play in Hard Mode exclusively, but I found myself scaling back to Normal to get used to all the new bosses and items in my attempt to get the true ending for the first time. This is, for a lack of better terms, The Binding of Isaac on steroids.
As has always been the case, especially when it comes to randomized roguelike titles, The Binding of Isaac: Repentance can be painful to play due to the excessive amount of items now in the pool, because each round can feel incredibly different just based on the luck of the roll on items. I played numerous rounds in a row where the first 8 items I got were garbage or all of the gold rooms on a run offered strictly Active items (Ones you can only hold one at a time) instead of any Passive items (Ones that stay with you). Sure, this is the state of a randomizer, but some rounds can feel a bit unfair just based on the luck (Or bad luck) of the random items on a given run.
The new selection of bosses, though, are excellent, and they all really add a lot of newness to the overall gameplay. For those who memorized all the patterns of previous bosses, throwing these new ones into the mix is a serious game changer and tons of fun! Some are relatively cute and continue from previous lore, and others are gross and terrifying and add to the already haunting theme.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance simply continues in the legacy of a title that has truly grown into one of the most important indie games every made. It may be a double-edged sword that too much in a randomizer might be a problem, but that is small when you look at the whole package and the history of this 10+ year old roguelike that has inspired countless other titles since its initial release.
Since this is downloadable content, this review is moreso geared towards individuals who already own Afterbirth+ on the Nintendo Switch and need a reason to get back into it. For them, this is everything you ever wanted in a final DLC, and now The Binding of Isaac truly feels complete.
If you have never played the game before, though, I cannot recommend it enough, so please purchase Afterbith+ and see what all the hype is about. Who knows? Maybe you will fall in love with it immediately and then go ahead and purchase Repentance to have it all.
Either way, The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is a phenomenal package, and it is finally time to show Mom how you really feel about her, consequences and all.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance Review provided by NintendoLink
Review also available on OpenCritic
Developer: Ed McMillan and Florian Himsl
Release Date: November 4, 2021
Price: $19.99, £15.99, €19.99 (Requires Afterbirth+ to play)
Excellent final DLC for Binding of Isaac
Tons of new content
Proper co-op mode
New bosses are really fun!
Some times the randomizer can be very unfair
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.