What's tough, gory, and a Biblical insulting good time? That would describe Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl's indie adventure title, 'The Binding of Isaac.'
Made in 2011 and released on the Steam Network, by the guys who brought you 'Super Meat Boy,' the 'Binding of Isaac' is a visceral re-telling of the Bible story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac to God in order to show true faith. Abraham is instead played by little Isaac's crazed, knife wielding mother who heard the voice of God tell her that her son is corrupted by sin and must be sacrificed so that he maybe be saved. Seeing how the only way to escape was a doorway in his floor, Isaac dives into the darkness below to escape his fate.
The game is a rogue-like 2D action-adventure title. Players will take control of Isaac and later 5 others players unlocked by completing certain challenges in game. The floors of the basement and levels beyond spawn randomly. No two layouts ever look truly the same. Isaac must navigate through these rooms, pick up items where he can, and defeat the boss monster at the end of each level in order to survive. The controls are easy enough to manage, with AWSD keys as the basic movements and the arrows for the direction of the Isaac's only weapon, his tears. Combat is simple and addicting, pointing Isaac's crying face in the direction of his enemies to take them out with his sorrow. Items can be found while exploring that can both help and hinder the little boy as he must gain power to take on his hardest challenge, his own mother.
The story is pretty solid. Players are given a bit of an introduction that quickly and clearly tells enough of a tale to get Isaac into the fleeing mood. There isn't a great deal of info-dumping or hardened cutscenes. Little facts and terrifying story additions make for a suspenseful and enjoyable plot. The player knows that Isaac must escape to live and must overcome obstacles in order to do so. The monsters Isaac encounters are unique, some with a little tie to some possible back story and others could very well be from the terrified depths of his own imagination as he runs for his life.
My one complaint is the huge learning and difficulty curve when Isaac gets the last level called the Necropolis I realize that this is the home stretch. Just beyond the gate the 'end-boss- Mom' waits. But the number of spawned enemies, their damage output, and frequency of death just seems to rail the player once they enter the level. Of course, practice makes perfect so should death claim you, go right back in and try again.