Monday, 3 October 2011

ISAAC!

You know how I mentioned I'd work on something substantial over the weekend?

Yeah... about that...

You see, there's been something that's been eating up my time. It's called the Binding of Isaac and it is bloody awesome (with some emphasis on the bloody). For those who don't know, this is a vaguely roguelike-shooter-hybrid-thingy made by Team Meat (or one member of it, at least). It has a few... unique and interesting features.

On each level, for instance, there are various items that give you various buffs and debuffs. Damage boosts, speed boosts, additional bombs, so on and so forth. Standard stuff. Except, interestingly, when items are picked up and equipped, they cause a visible change to occur in the eponymous protagonist. This is where the horror sets in. Your skin cracks and bubbles, poison flowing where blood should be, horns tearing open the skin of your crown, a coat hanger rammed through your vaguely foetal head. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is one of the most surreal, nightmarish games I've seen recently. The enemies - from skinless freaks with demented eyes to crying children whose heads have become hives for overgrown flies - are a truly horrid gallery of monsters. There are a number (at least 50), with various different behaviours and tactics. The bosses are just as varied, interesting, and ungodly - examples include the likes of a huge mountain of flesh and muscle which causes pustules to grow around the boss room, and conjoined twins, one of whom chases you around the room while the other floats behind firing balls of blood at you. A lovely bunch of folks.

The mechanics feel good, the aesthetic style is wonderful and, even better, the game is insanely addicting. I've been playing it for several hours and have yet to reach, never mind beat, the endgame boss. And I'm not frustrated. If anything, I'm even more incensed to continue, to find new items to use, new combos to fight with, new monstrosities to destroy. There are some problems, sure - the reliance on luck might annoy some, and there is a strange amount of lag for a flash game - but you will get so many hours of joy out of this it is well worth the price. It's on sale on Steam until Wednesday - give it a look.

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