Hello fair readers! Sometimes life gives me an awesome gift. Then, life kicks me in the face with shoes covered in the cold virus and runs away cackling. Life is kind of a jerk. However, thanks to said illness, I played an obscene amount of my favorite game, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and its newest expansion, Afterbirth.
If you’ve played the first game, you know just how fun and messed up this game can be. You play as Isaac, the frightened, naked little boy who is faced with a tough choice: let your crazed mother kill you, or escape into a dark dungeon with your greatest weapon, your tears. As you battle your way through, you find items that can make you stronger, and make deals with angels and devils alike to eventually fight your greatest nemesis, Mom herself. In Rebirth, we get a remake of the original with better graphics, tweaked items, more items, and improved endings. Afterbirth added even more goodies, and a new mode: Greed Mode.
Greed Mode is a fun little strategy arena that allows the player to fight multiple swarms of enemies in a one by two room. Each level you tackle, you get a silver treasure room, a gold treasure room, a curse room, and a double wide merchant room. If you’re successful, you’ll eventually gain access to an exit room, which might still attack you with one last swarm. All of these rooms force the player to strategize and plan their moves carefully. The silver room is always unlocked, though that probably changes later on; I rarely make it past the first level, so I’m not an expert. This first item determines how you have plan your actions and survivability. It rarely gives you any money to spend in the shop, which gives you more choices for a price. When you’re finally ready, poke the button in the middle of the battle room, which starts the eight waves of enemies when you push it. It also grows spikes because this game is rarely kind. Each enemy wave gives you a few pennies to collect, hopefully giving you enough to buy an item or two in the shop. After the initial eight finish, you’re given a break to buy items, open the gold room, and readjust whatever you need. When ready, push the button again to battle the boss of the room. Defeating the baddy will open the exit room and give you another chance to restock. It will also give you an optional last button. Pushing the button will have you fight another set of bosses, rewarding you with a devil or angel room.
I find Greed Mode to be really difficult. Not only do you have the chance to fail right off the bat with a bad starting item, but the mix of even the easiest enemies can become overwhelming quickly. The waves will overlap if you aren’t fast enough at killing the enemies, and too many chasers, spiders, and turrets can be your swift death. If you manage to go through all seven levels, you get a chance to contribute to the new Greed Machine, which acts like the Donation Machine in the shops. Contributing 1,000 coins will unlock a new character, The Keeper.
As far as the regular game goes, Afterbirth made everything harder. It’s almost like “Everything is Terrible!” unlocks again. There’s new, unusual room shapes, more difficult monsters to kill (I loathe the new black leech, which is not only hardier than its white counterpart, but also shoots four diagonal bullets upon death, and I always seem to dodge into them like a chump), and harder boss fights. There’s also a lot more items that can interact with your build and kill you more than it’ll kill enemies.
Being a total jerk aside, I love this game. It being more difficult makes me want to do better each run. Finding new items just makes me want to build new strategies around their weird capabilities. As long as I don’t get Bob’s Brain, every run is a new adventure of fury induced learning. I couldn’t ask for more. If you haven’t tried The Binding of Isaac, I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you enjoyed it, but aren’t sure about Afterlife, I recommend it even more. If you’re still on the fence, come and watch me play it sometime, and hear me make up curse words as the game kicks me in the shins repeatedly. /shamelessplug