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Zelda-like RG Adventure Game, The Binding of Isaac Takes On Religious Filicide

The Binding of Isaac, a randomly generated adventure game, takes a gaming approach the Old Testament cringer of Abraham and Isaac.

The Binding of Isaac, at its center, is a great randomly generated Zelda-styled adventure game wrapped in a cringe-worthy story. In the Old Testament Abraham is told by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a test of his faith and devotion, but Isaac is spared at the last second as God tells Abraham to sacrifice a nearby ram instead. In The Binding of Isaac, the story is updated to that of a modern-day child. The child's mother, directed by religious visions to sacrifice her child, finds his room empty. He's escaped into a network of underground dungeons beneath his house, a symbolic hell. From the The Binding of Isaac provides a far richer gaming experience than its aesthetic inspiration, The Legend of Zelda, as the entire game is randomly-generated.

The Binding of Isaac, which is available on Steam for both Mac and PC at the completely accessible price of $5, was created by Edmund McMillen. McMillen, one half of the team behind the indie game Super Meat Boy, was started as a small project, "a game in a week", as he told Ars Technica, and then, "it just ballooned." The game, which has some obvious influences, nonetheless draws the player in after a few moments to a wonderfully twisted aesthetic experience. Navigated with the WASD keys, and using items and weapons with he arrow keys, the character explores dungeons, fights bad guys, and uncovers treasures and solves puzzles similarly to the way one did in Zelda (but as one gamer comment described it, "Zelda on crack"). The game also features randomly generated dungeons, but also enemies and items, which makes the replayability almost endless in its combinations. In addition, there are a selection various bosses and items that changes how your character looks and acts, as well as a number of different endings. All change the experience the player has each time he or she plays the game.

Despite the game's mechanics, richness, and affordability, there's still the theological and emotional content of the game's storyline. Isaac, the child, is essentially fighting for his life having escaped his mother's attempt at religious sacrifice. Though the artwork may look humorous and the adventure platform is entertaining, the storyline is nonetheless dark and deeply provocative. The Binding of Isaac hits gamers on a number of levels, and provides hours of fulfilling play and replay... and all for just five bucks!