The Binding of Isaac feels like this weird remnant of my younger years. It was already a hit upon its original release in 2011, but found a new audience with the 2014 upgrade to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Since then, we’ve had Afterbirth and Afterbirth Plus as DLCs, and now we finally have Repentance, which is meant to be the “final” DLC for the game.
it’s an absolute monster adding in two brand-new characters, alternate versions of every character, loads of new enemies, bosses, challenges, room designs, and new endings. It’s the culmination of a lot of work from not only the original team, but also the people behind the Antibirth mod, who were brought in to help combine that mod with the game and cook up some new ideas to create this DLC.
Basically, even if you think you’ve seen everything that the already absurd runtime of The Binding of Isaac has to offer, Repentance is going to add in enough content to potentially double that. That’s just incredibly silly.
Having loads of content doesn’t automatically make anything good, but Repentance manages to be bloody brilliant. It adds in more of an excellent game, and it’s hard not to view The Binding of Isaac as both the progenitor of the modern roguelike, as well as possibly the best example of why the genre is so good.
The Binding of Isaac has always felt complete, and frankly, it feels a little bit overwhelming now. I nearly started a new save file to see this through, but there is maybe a thousand or so hours of gameplay here, and I don’t think I can do it all over again. If you’re new to the game entirely, you should absolutely see if you like the base game first, but if you do enjoy it, then you should get this and the other DLC as early as possible and just tuck in.
My only issue with the The Binding of Isaac as a whole is that some aspects of it haven’t aged very well. Its comments and criticisms on religious fanaticism remain fairly strong, but it feels as though we’ve outgrown some of the body horror stuff. Bosses like Mega Fatty and enemies with cleft lips feel outdated; it’s the kind of thing I feel like a lot of people have grown out of, but then there are also things like fetuses in jars with top hats, and the game’s aim really isn’t to be a comfortable experience. The point is to be disgusting and repulsive while remaining infuriatingly replayable.
I don’t have a recommendation for what to do about that, nor am I suggesting that it should be censored or removed, it’s just that it makes me personally uncomfortable. That’s fine, and ultimately the game is deeply unsettling constantly. I think my issue with these two elements is more that while a lot of The Binding of Isaac feels like it’s about death, religion, and the dangers of taking things too literally, stuff like Mega Fatty could easily be replaced by more poop?
Aside from that, Repentance also overhauls the graphics of the game. Blood spurts now look a lot better than before, enemies pop out of the screen a little better, and everything looks cleaner. Not in a literal sense – there’s still blood, guts, and faeces everywhere – but it looks more inviting than ever before.