The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ Review

by | Jan 26, 2017

It Was a Good Run

The Binding of Isaac, and the remake The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth both are absolutely incredible games, both of which I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending to anyone. As long as that person is okay with the gross-out themes and overly biblical tone of the game.

If you’ve not played Rebirth, do so now.

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
Steam Page
Developer:
Nicalis, Edmund McMillen
Publisher:
Nicalis
Release:
January 3, 2017
Price:
$9.99
Rig:
Intel i7-4790K @ 4.4GHz
16GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980

At its core, Isaac is a mix between The Legend of Zelda style dungeon crawling, and Smash TV style twin-stick shooting, where Isaac cries his enemies to death. Each run is different as the game is procedurally generated, with different bosses, items, and room layouts each time you play.

Afterbirth+ is the second DLC for Rebirth, following on from the much lauded (rightly so, in my opinion) DLC Afterbirth. Afterbirth+ brings with it a new character, Apollyon, alongside a handful of new bosses, a new floor and a new final boss. Not to mention of course a big fuckload of new items.

Apollyon is my favorite addition so far. His starting stats are absolutely terrible, but his starting item is incredibly interesting. “The Void”, Apollyon’s starting item allows him to consume items in exchange for random stat boosts. Not only that but if he consumes an active item, every time from then on when he uses “The Void” it also uses ALL the consumed actives. This can snowball fast, and snowballing is one of my favorite things to do in Isaac.

The new bosses are a lot less fun. I groan every time I see one of them, as they all have too much health and not enough interesting mechanics. They’re a unfun slog 90% of the time. Looking at you Big Horn.

The new area, The Void, is also pretty underwhelming. Instead of being a whole new area, it is instead random rooms from each chapter, with multiple boss rooms also. One of these boss rooms contains Afterbirth+’s new and absurdly difficult final boss, Delirium.

Afterbirth+ also contains a harder version of Afterbirth’s Greed Mode, which I can only guess is because a lot of people thought Greed Mode too easy. The new mode, Greedier, is extremely difficult, and I’ve not actually managed to beat it yet.

“the game is feeling a bit bloated and overly complicated now”

I’ve put a LOT of time into Afterbirth+, and I still feel like I haven’t seen enough to make a completely coherent opinion. I will say that Nicalis have been steadily improving it with patches, as on launch it was a total shitshow. It took me two days to get it to launch, and when I did the utterly broken portals made me wish I wasn’t playing it.

It does seem like they’ve fixed all this now, though. That said, from some cursory reading online I’ve seen that some people are still having the crashing problem, so bear that in mind when buying.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to think. While I’m having a lot of fun with Afterbirth+ and more Isaac is great in theory, I can’t help think that the game is feeling a bit bloated and overly complicated now. If you’re a newcomer, I wouldn’t even think about Afterbirth+, there’s more than enough content in Rebirth and Afterbirth to keep you happy for literally hundreds of hours (Just ask Northernlion!).

Interestingly, Afterbirth+ gives Isaac Steam Workshop support, allowing for potentially infinite extra content via mods. Whether these mods add quality or not is another story altogether, but hey, it can’t hurt!

So yeah, if you’re thirsty for more Isaac, grab Afterbirth+. If you’re a newbie, stick with the basic Rebirth. And if you own Rebirth but aren’t totally into it, look into grabbing this when it’s on a Steam sale.

Score: 65/100

[A copy of the game was provided by the developer or publisher for the purpose of this review.]

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