The Binding of Isaac may very well become your new lunch-time time waster

Randomly-generated gaming content is seeing a real boom as of late, with numerous indie-developed titles churning out the replay value by allowing the game to be different every time you play it. Sometimes it can unfortunately dilute the overall experience, and other times – such as with roguelike The Binding of Isaac – it can make the game infinitely playable.

After plugging many, many hours into this game, I can honestly say that I see The Binding of Isaac becoming my new Minesweeper for wasting time. Playthroughs are short but very sweet, and can be fitted into pretty much any lunch break and the like. It’s the amount of customization on offer here that really gives it that “just one more go” feel.

Isaac is a young boy who is forced to escape to the basement, after his mother believes she is hearing messages from God telling her to kill her own son. From the get-go, it’s obvious that The Binding of Isaac is just that little bit edgy, although anyone who knows the developer’s (Edmund McMillen) past work will already be fully aware of this. Expect oodles of blood, nasty enemies and a storyline that isn’t for kids.

You control Isaac as he journeys through a variety of randomly generated dungeons on a quest to find Mom and kill her. On the way, he must kill every enemy he encounters by dousing them with his tears, claiming power-ups and collectibles to aid him on his quest. The big point to note, however, is that if Isaac dies, you don’t get more lives. That’s it, game over.

The Binding of Isaac has a completely wonderful OTT amount of content available for you to discover. From its 50+ enemy types to its 100+ items to be found, you may be asked to play the same game over and over again until you win, yet no two games ever feel the same.

There are boss battles at the end of each dungeon that are randomly chosen from a selection of 20 overall. There are unlockable classes to find. There are special, ultra deadly and rare enemies. There is just far too much to see, and you’ll have to play for dozens of hours before you see it all.

It will probably take you over a dozen hours to see the end of the game too, as Isaac is rather difficult, especially as you venture downwards and see the later sections. Grabbing upgrades is essential, but even with these, you need to be extra vigilant to stay alive.

Our only real concern is that the controls could do with a tweak or two. You can choose to control via the keyboard only, or a combination of the keyboard and mouse, but both have their own weird feel that never achieves a fully satisfying level. Controlling Isaac is certain areas simply feels awkward, and led to many a death for us.

The Binding of Isaac is insanely cheap for the amount of content you’re getting, and you could very well find yourself playing it forever and a day. Give the demo a play and see what you think.