Game Reviews

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - Not the best port of an amazing game

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| The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - Not the best port of an amazing game

Now that the three year wait to bring The Binding of Isaac to 3DS is finally over, it feels like a bit of an anti-climax.

Nintendo initially rejected the game as it was in breach of eShop policy due to "questionable religious content."

But despite an uncensored version finally launching on the platform, the poor use of 3DS functionality, bugs, and frequent dips in frame rate make this the weakest version of Isaac to date.

One of the biggest surprises is that The Binding of Isaac can only be played on a New 3DS. This bizarre decision alienates a sizeable handheld audience, but also raises concerns about the hardware considering the frame rate often stutters when multiple enemies appear on-screen at one time.

Also, despite numerous patches, the game still suffers from occasional freezing and lock-ups when certain powers are activated.

Equally surprising is that the game doesn't support autostereoscopic 3D effects. Considering this version is tied to units with the new head-tracking technology, it's disappointing that Nicalis Ltd hasn't taken advantage.

On top of that, the game doesn't have in-built Miiverse functionality, nor does it make use of Streetpass.

Legend of Zel-gore

Fortunately, the gripping roguelike gameplay remains fully intact.

If you've somehow missed The Binding of Isaac, this procedurally generated dungeon-crawler brings back bittersweet memories of the original Legend of Zelda, with a more mature decor.

Isaac must stay alive while navigating the various floors of a grotesque basement, facing all sorts of eye-bleeding terrors and disturbing amounts of poop. Should he die, everything resets and you'll be forced to start over.

Isaac is locked in a battle with his aggrieved mother who has been commanded by God to make a sacrificial example of him as a show of faith.

With only tears and different power-ups at his disposal, Isaac must face his greatest fears, overcome the most difficult moments of his childhood, and use both as inspiration to defeat ferocious bosses.

Creeping depths

All of this makes for a natural handheld experience, though it's extremely difficult to recommend over the previously released Vita version.

For starters, Vita's Isaac looks and sounds better, while also managing to run the game more smoothly. Then there's the ability to carry your save files between Playstation platforms, making Nintendo's offering seem isolated in comparison.

Another unfortunate issue with the 3DS version is that, unlike the Vita, the right analog doesn't work comfortably for twin-stick shooting.

There's not enough flexibility in the c-stick to achieve a decent level of accuracy for an extended period of time, which will eventually lead you to using the buttons.

For a game like Isaac where quick reactions are essential to your survival, this compromise often feels clunky and unnatural.

The one advantage the 3DS has over all others is the dual-screen support. You'll always be able to see what power-ups Isaac has activated, as well as how many coins, bombs, and keys he's carrying.

You'll also have constant map access, as well as a clear view of the time that has elapsed since the start of your run.

Poopular choice

If 3DS is your platform of choice, then this is still a decent way to play a spectacular game on the go.

Provided you can adjust to the bugs and haphazard control scheme you'll find yourself absorbed and continually coming back for more punishment in this brutal and exceptionally depraved world.

As ports go however, this feels rushed and underdeveloped, and is a poor advert for N3DS exclusivity, doing very little to justify an upgrade.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - Not the best port of an amazing game

The core Binding of Isaac experience translates extremely well on 3DS and remains as engrossing as ever. It's just a pity further opportunities weren't explored to take advantage of Nintendo's unique hardware
Ray Willmott
Ray Willmott
When not objecting to witnesses in Phoenix Wright or gushing over Monkey Island, Ray does social things for Steel Media. He also pretends to look like Han Solo in his profile picture.