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What the hell?

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    The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    What the hell?

    …is something players will be asking themselves quite a bit when playing The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth on PlayStation 4. Simply put, the game is one of the weirdest games that the industry has ever produced, serving as a twisted, disgusting version of The Legend of Zelda.

    Whereas Super Meat Boy was an extreme take on Super Mario, The Binding of Isaac is an extreme take on The Legend of Zelda. The game plays like a classic top-down Zelda, but with twin-stick shooter controls. Players are tasked with finding keys to unlock doors, avoiding traps, and killing enemies, including some rather grotesque and memorable bosses. But there’s a catch.

    The Binding of Isaac isn’t a straight-forward adventure like The Legend of Zelda. On the contrary, the game is a roguelike dungeon crawler, with players losing all of their progress and items upon death. This can make the game rather frustrating for those not looking for a challenge, but gamers that are up to it will find a game that is difficult, but rewarding, with players learning its tricks as they repeatedly try to beat all of the levels.

    What players learn is how to defeat enemies and which enemies are most useful. The game has randomly generated dungeons, so it’s not a matter of memorizing what’s coming next. This ensures that the game is constantly surprising and that there is always a stiff challenge awaiting players.

    The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth controls fine and plays fine, though the extremely level of difficulty is sure to turn off some players. But at least that difficulty can be shared with a friend. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth supports co-op with one player taking on a floating creature that is able to assist with defeating enemies. This creature takes health points from the person controlling Isaac, so co-op doesn’t come without its own punishments. Overall, the co-op mode is interesting, but the second player is definitely treated like a second class citizen, and so it feels tacked on in a way.

    Visually, the game has well-done hand-drawn graphics, and its layout looks like a retro Zelda title. There’s a lot of graphic violence and disgusting images, perhaps most notably piles of poop that are dotted around the dungeons, and so some people with a weak stomach might not be able to handle the grotesque nature of the game. The music is fine, though nothing special, and like many titles that emulate retro games, the story is very barebones, though the underlying themes are religious, horrific, and disturbing in nature.

    The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a twisted take on The Legend of Zelda that some people are likely to enjoy quite a bit. Others may be turned off by its grossness and the steep difficulty, but it’s still one of the better roguelike dungeon crawlers available on the PlayStation 4 today.

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