The Binding of Steve

posted by @SteveHatesU

Fun Fact: The only Isaac I’ve ever known tried to burn down my elementary school by lighting a bunch of paper towels on fire in the lavatory. My mom was all freaked out and didn’t want me to go back to school. I was all indifferent, but also didn’t want to go back to school. Fifteen years later, I’m playing a game about a naked baby who kills demonic mutants with his tears while trying to escape the murderous clutches of his psychotic mother. So, yeah. Life’s pretty cyclical and shit.

It’s been like, three weeks since I got all butthurt over some girl. You’d figure at this point in my life I’d know better and wouldn’t let this sort of shit effect me so much. Is it “effect” or “affect”? Fuck it. Anyway, every passing minute is a another chance to turn it all around. So I decided to take a week off from my real job, watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead, and try out one of the best indie games ever, The Binding of Isaac.

I don’t want to talk too much about The Walking Dead premiere, but let me just preface whatever I’m about to say with the fact that I don’t give a shit about anyone on that show except for Daryl Fucking Dixon. Going into this first episode, I was hoping for a sick twist with Daryl killing absolutely everything. Alas, it didn’t quite go that way.

It’s funny how in the past two seasons, Daryl is viewed by the rest of the group as a useless, redneck scumbag when in fact, he is the most useful member of the group. The guy can hunt, track, kill zombies with lethal efficiency, he’s ridiculously durable, and he even has the back of the other dildos in the group. Did you ever notice how there’s only one black guy on the show? As if Atlanta is completely devoid of black people altogether? Remember when that black guy retardedly (not a real word) cut his arm on a piece of broken glass? It was getting all infected and it looked like he was going to die. Daryl Fucking Dixon shows up and is just like, “I have antibiotics right here, bitch. You should’ve asked!” He saved that dude’s life!

Which reminds me – do you know where he was keeping those pills? In the saddlebag of his fucking Triumph Bonneville chopper! The guy uses a fucking crossbow, too. Not only is it silent, but often times he can reuse the ammunition. Bad. Ass.

This episode, Daryl manages to not only fuck up a whole legion of zombies, but he refuses to bang that one chick (who cares what her name is, she’s probably going to die real soon anyway). “Daryl Dixon ain’t got time for pussy, bitch!” Other highlights include zombie riot cops and Rick’s quick decision to chop off Hershel’s fucking leg with a hatchet! But I didn’t come here to talk to you about all that…

I’m feeling better already!

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Did you ever play the original Legend of Zelda and think, “Goddamn, I wish I could play an entire game where all you do is go through these dungeons but instead of playing as Link, I’d like to be a naked baby named Isaac!”?  Well, your oddly specific prayers have been answered, my friend! Edmund McMillen, the creator of hit indie game, Super Meat Boy, brings us The Binding of Isaac via Valve’s digital platform, Steam.

Fun Fact: My fantasy football team name is Boy Meats World and the team logo is Super Meat Boy.  Currently I’m sitting at 4-2 because, like Daryl Dixon, Peyton Manning gets shit done.

If I can give you a two word description of this game it would be: fucked up. Where do I even start? You play as Isaac, whose mother has just gone through some spiritual nonsense and has started hearing voices. The voices start off by telling her that her son needs to be purged of evil, and as a result, she takes away all of his possessions including his GameBoy and clothes- then she locks him in his room. Finally, the voices tell her she must prove her devotion by sacrificing his life. Isaac escapes through a trapdoor in his bedroom floor and must go through Hell itself to win his freedom. Clearly, this story is inspired by a fantastic piece of fiction I like to call The Bible.

What made me not like this game at first was how uncomfortable it made me feel. I’m not a religious person by any means, but a lot of the symbolism and imagery made me go, “whoa, seriously?!” Not only that, but it’s a top-down, 2-stick shooter. You move Isaac with the ASWD keys and you fire with the arrow keys. That’s tough to get used to, especially on a Mac keyboard.  Eventually, I grew more comfortable with everything about the game, including the controls.

Initially, your only method of attack is with your tears. Trust me, I know what that’s about. But through various means, you collect power-ups that not only increase your firepower, but also increase your chances of beating the game. If you’re not familiar with Super Meat Boy, it’s one of the hardest games ever created. The Binding of Isaac doesn’t slack off in the difficulty department, either; you’re going to need all the help you can get.

So what kind of enemies will you be facing? Let’s do a quick bad guy roll call

Flies, boils, mutant babies, headless babies, bodiless babies, zombies, brains, guts, cysts, leeches, parasites, laser-shooting vaginas, laser-shooting eyeballs, laser-shooting demons, fetus ghosts, fetus demons, living abortions, the seven deadly sins, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, your own mother, aaaand Satan.

What’s a naked baby gotta do to get outta here alive?!

There are a lot of things you can do, actually. The game functions a lot like an action RPG with a focus on leveling up and gaining abilities. You don’t gain experience points, per se, but you’ll pick up a lot of power-ups, both active and passive. There are four character traits that you can upgrade: health, speed, tears (rate of fire), attack (damage), and range. You can also upgrade the effectiveness of your tears. Is it “effectiveness” or “affectiveness”? Fuck it. You can also make your tears poisonous, pass through solid objects, travel in an “S” shape, or form an unholy-fuck-you-cannon-of-destruction. You can also pick up little “helpers” that will attack your enemies with you or guard you from incoming fire. Who are these “helpers”? Most of the time they’re your aborted brothers and sisters as well as flies and dead birds. Did I mention that Nintendo turned down a port of this game for the 3DS due to it’s controversial content? Well, I just fucking did.

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The game itself can be beaten within 30-45 minutes. What makes it great, though, is its replayability (not a real word). There are literally 100 different items you can pick up that will effect/affect your base stats, attack method, secondary items and helpers. I’ve talked about this game for about 5 paragraphs and have barely scratched the surface. I mean, each time you play the game, it’s something different. You unlock different bosses, power ups, levels, etc. Did I even mention the other playable characters? Because there are six in total!

We’re going to be here all fucking night!

Not really, though. I’ve been acting like a little bitch for the past three weeks, I’ve got shit to catch up on. My absolute favorite part of this game is the ability to make deals with the Devil. If you’re not familiar with the old Zelda dungeon layouts, you basically go room to room killing all of the enemies in each room to unlock the next room until you eventually get to the boss. In The Binding of Isaac, after you beat the boss, you’re presented with a trap door to drop down to another, more difficult level. As long as you fulfill certain requirements, another door can potentially open up leading to a Devil Room, giving you the opportunity to trade your “soul” (or in this case hearts) for power-ups; usually these power-ups are more extreme. You can “purchase” brimstone, which gives you that mega-fuck-you-mouth-laser, or an inverted cross which gives you the ability to fly and avoid certain hazards.

What I find so interesting about making deals with the Devil is the fact that, ultimately, you face off with the Devil at the end of the game. You develop this fascinating relationship where you trade parts of your life for power, and the Devil provides you with this power knowing full well it could result in his demise. Depending on how you’re doing on health, you can ironically be praying for a Devil Room to appear so you can become stronger and more lethal. The Devil clearly doesn’t believe you to be any sort of threat, so what better way to repay him for his assistance than by shoving an inverted cross up his ass?!

I would be remiss not to mention the stellar soundtrack on this game. Danny Baranowsky uses this crazy, gothic, heavy metal, industrial tone that perfectly fits the mood of this game. It’s dark and foreboding but also very devastating and epic- the music stays with you, too. I’ll find myself walking around humming the theme that plays in the basement portion of the game constantly. And I don’t mean “humming” in the traditional sense, because that shit is fucking annoying.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the less games make sense, the better they are. The Binding of Isaac makes NO FUCKING SENSE. It’s so brilliant and deep, though! From what I’ve heard, this game was just a side project for Edmund McMillen to work on between Super Meat Boy and his next big game. This is a big game all in itself!

Remember when I said that I barely scratched the surface of this game? I wasn’t lying. Not too long ago, McMillen created an expansion for The Binding of Isaac called Wrath of the Lamb. This DLC expands the original game by 70%. I haven’t played it yet, but for $3, why the fuck wouldn’t I? The original game itself is only $5 on Steam, and I’m pretty sure you can get the amazing soundtrack for another dollar or two (I’m too lazy to look that up to verify). So, for less than $10, you get a massively fun, rewarding game with literally hours of replayability (still not a word) and a fucking epic soundtrack.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some time to think about my feelings and where this relationship is going. I’m just kidding; girls are the fucking worst. Happy Radtober, dildos!

Like this article? Fucking hate it? Let Stephen know in the comments section!

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2 Responses to The Binding of Steve

  1. Wools says:

    One of those monsters has a cleft pallet. Might be the first video game character ever to sport one of those.

  2. HeyItsKamo says:

    I’ve never played it, but just watching game play vids on youtube is insane

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