REVIEW: The Binding Of Isaac Afterbirth

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by Ants
After seven months of anticipation, the long awaited follow DLC has arrived on the PS4. Originally released on the PC in October 2015 to a fun, but short lived amount of speculation about how to unlock extra items and secrets (all proved false when the bugs that prevented their appearance were patched). Thanks to YouTubers such as Northern Lion and Europa, I had seen a lot of the new content already, but dammit, I wanted to play it and was happy when I could.

At the time of writing, the trophies are glitched and not active, hopefully that will be rectified soon. Whilst many are angry about this, it is important to note that the games are produced by a very small studio, it is great they are venturing back into the console world after the mess around they had with Super Meat Boy as evidenced by Indie Game: The Movie. The joys of The Binding of Isaac have always been about the game, not about the trophies, as evidenced by the fact I played every day, long after the platinum had been earned.

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If you have listened to our podcast (if not, why not?!!) you will know that I have been borderline obsessed by this game since it was released for free as part of the Playstation Plus monthly games package. At first, I just thought of it as a fun twin stick shooter, but the more I played, the more depth I realised it had, how items complimented each other when before they seemed useless and the myriad of tricks a knowledgeable player can extend a bad run to completion. Afterbirth offers even more of this, with many new items and combinations.

Of course, it isn’t just the power-ups that have been added – 10 new challenges, some of which are infuriatingly difficult, are present to unlock some of said items. An entire new way to play the game is introduced in Greed Mode. Rather than exploring randomly generated dungeons, the layout is identical every time, with a free item room, a curse room, a shop and a locked item room. In the main area, a single button is in the middle which when pressed starts eight waves of mob enemies coming every ten seconds, like a bizarre royal rumble. This can be halted by pressing the button again at the cost of a portion of health, something precious in this new mode. The value of in game items varies greatly for this way of playing and those essential pick-ups you are used to, become less useful in favour of things you may have previously ignored, such as the coin bag. At the end of the mode there is a tough new ultra-boss fight, after which a new donation machine spawns, which unlocks rewards at specific points. This new mode is incredible fun altering the way you need to play and I feel has longevity beyond the donation cap.

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Also added are daily challenges, something I have been relishing. A standard run is put up, and scores are determined by completion, pick-ups, speed and exploration. Trying to make the top 100 daily is a challenge and again, this can offer certain items a higher value if the run ends at a certain point. Making it to boss rush and the new area in time are essential to post the highest scores and my best ranking yet has been eighth (which no doubt dropped as the hours passed). It means that currently I will put this game on at least once per day, often sticking around to do another greed run or try to unlock new items or upgrades with other characters.

Overall, this is a worthy addition for fans, at £8.99 it offers at least an extra hundred hours to the game, which is a bargain. Hopefully the proposed Afterbirth + expansion with mod support will make its way to consoles quicker upon release.

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