The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ review - An almighty Switch port

Like one of the hideously deformed basement-dwelling monsters that haunts the game's titular hero, The Binding of Isaac keeps mutating into ever stronger forms.

It's not just that Edmund McMillen's labour of love has found its way onto every videogame format under the sun, but that he keeps diligently tweaking and adding to it.

Which brings us to The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+, arguably the ultimate version of this brilliant game - in more ways than one.

Ritual magic

It doesn't matter which version of The Binding of Isaac you play, the basics are the same. This is a procedurally generated dungeon-crawler with classic twin-stick shooter combat.

As you move to the next single screen arena of a level, there's no telling exactly which combination of enemies and screen furniture you'll face. Will you be thrown an impromptu mini-boss encounter, a helpful shop, or perhaps an enigmatic altar?

Maybe you'll be rewarded with one of the game's hundreds of items, which can alter everything from the way your teardrop-based weapon fires to the amount and type of life you have.

Perhaps it will spawn a giant explosive homing bat helper, or turn your blood into a corrosive substance so that you come to welcome damage.

The bulk of The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+'s appeal lies in its enormous array of variables. A lot of roguelike games claim that no two runs are the same, but this has never been more true than it is here.

Indeed, this Afterbirth+ version contains more items, characters, and extras than any version of the game that has gone before it.

Pooped out

For this reason, alongside the game's grimly scatological setting (it's all very brown and icky), The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ takes a while to warm to.

Its crude two-plane combat and basic graphics initially seem rather simplistic compared to other indie shooters. You'll need to make several runs before the game's true scope even begins to reveal itself.

Thankfully, that extended process has never been easier or more pleasurable to undertake than it is here on the Nintendo Switch. Simply being able to take the game from your TV into your hands for portable play (and back again) is enough to ensure that.

The combat works a treat using the Joy-Con controllers' two analogue sticks and shoulder buttons, while the action remains sharp and fluid in both modes. If it hadn't debuted in 2011, you'd swear the game had been made with the Switch in mind.

It hasn't, of course, and some will doubtless find the increased asking price for this Switch version a little tough to stomach - especially if you've played it extensively on another platform.

But given the compromised nature of the iOS and 3DS ports, it's not like we've been blessed with top-quality portable versions (Vita version aside) up to now.

Besides, the Switch version isn't just a great portable version - it's arguably the ultimate iteration of this brilliant game.

The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ review - An almighty Switch port

The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth+ on Switch isn't just a brilliant port - it's arguably the best way to enjoy a modern roguelike classic
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.