The Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC Review — Once More Unto the Basement
The Binding of Isaac is a pretty incredible story of indie game success. Originally released in 2011, it was part of the indie roguelike boom, but its combination of seemingly limitless variations alongside its charming, scatological style and deep cut Biblical references helped it stand above the rest.
Ten years later, and The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is yet another full game-sized DLC that provides dozens more hours of this deceptively difficult bullet hell game.
Repentance doesn't add anything particularly game-altering to the formula; it's not going to win you over if you don't like this style of roguelike. What it does do, however, is add huge amounts of content to the already massive base game (and other DLCS) that is The Binding of Isaac.
On top of that, there's some even more hardcore endgame content, including a series of new, game-breaking characters to unlock. Not bad for $15.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC Review
If you're totally uninitiated, let's catch you up real quick.
The Binding of Isaac is a top-down roguelike that has some elements of old-school action and bullet hell games. Also, glancing at a few screenshots might remind you of exploring dungeons in the original Legend of Zelda. You move between rooms, collecting items and fighting enemies, eventually reaching a boss and descending to a new floor.
It's a simple concept that anyone who has played video games can learn in a hurry.
Things start to pick up with the roguelike elements. As you delve further and further, enemies and bosses get insanely difficult. You must scale yourself in order to stand a chance, and some of the combos you find throughout your runs are ridiculous. You'll put together combinations that make you practically impossible to kill, and you'll shred through even the most difficult of bosses. On other runs, a few mistimed movements mean your health will be taken down by a single foe.
On top of all that, there's a bonkers story that straddles the line between "This has to be a joke" and "Is it?" You are a child named Isaac (or one of his other Biblically named friends), and your mother is slowly driven insane. One day, when she tries to kill you, you flee into your basement. Or, maybe not. There's a ton of backstory and lore going on here, and lots of little hints at the true nature of what's happening.
Which brings us to The Binding of Isaac: Repentance. This DLC is, at its heart, taking a recent fan mod and sprucing it up for an official release. The big draw here is the endgame content: there is a new "official" final area, including new bosses and endings. There are also two brand new characters and a "tainted" variation of every character in the game, many of which offer completely new playstyles and wildly powerful abilities.
Essentially, Repentance brings the game's playable character count up to nearly three dozen.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance also completely reworks co op mode. Instead of additional players joining as the co op "babies" from previous versions, Repentance allows up to four people to join in as actual characters. This changes The Binding of Isaac in a huge way, and the screen becomes extremely chaotic.
Finally, there's just more of everything: over 100 new items and enemies, new bosses, new environments, new challenges, achievements... there is a ton of new stuff in Repentance.
That's always been the joy of The Binding of Isaac, though. There is so dang much that even after hundreds of hours of play, you're likely to find new combinations and interactions, unlock new items, and find new ways to slam your head down in frustration after dying during a particularly late-game boss. Things are made even more unfair in Repentance, but the fun comes in finding your own perfect builds to counter the game's steep challenge.
Luckily, not everything new in Repentance is confined to the late game. You start encountering new enemies and environments from the very beginning, though getting to most of those new playable characters takes some serious slaying skills. Unlocking tainted characters and successfully challenging the new final bosses is no easy feat and should provide a challenge to even the savviest of Isaac fans.
It isn't hard to recommend Repentance to anyone: hardcore fans of The Binding of Isaac probably are already sweeping through it. If you've never played Isaac or it's been sitting dormant in your library for a while, grabbing some new DLC and giving it a whirl will suck you right in.
For $15, you'll add dozens of more hours to an already spectacular game. What's not to love?
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC Review — The Bottom Line
- Great endgame content
- Tons of new characters are a challenge to unlock and offer new twists
- New elements are scattered throughout, giving new enemies and items in even the earliest areas
- New challenges and co-op offer variations to tackle
- Ultimately, it's just more. If you didn't already like The Binding of Isaac, Repentance isn't going to change your mind
- Much of the biggest surprises are extremely late game — a large chunk of players won't ever reach it
Reviewing something like Repentance is difficult: it's just more content for an already great and long-lived title. Maybe the reworked co op is a draw for some that otherwise wouldn't give it a second look, but that's about it.
That said, The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is more of a good thing, and we all know that's generally what we want from a roguelike. It's a no-brainer if you're already a fan. If you've already moved on from Isaac, your mileage may vary.
[Note: The reviewer purchased the copy of The Binding of Isaac: Repentance used for this review. GameSkinny provided reimbursement.]