Binding of Isaac: Rebirth stands as one of my favorite games of all time. It has surpassed the original, a game I also loved, in every conceivable way. I favor playing Rebirth on my Playstation 4 (the controls are better and my bed is more comfortable than any office chair). When the first ever expansion to Rebirth, Afterbirth, was released last October on PC, I was upset that it didn’t also launch on Playstation 4. Months of waiting later, I have finally played it on PS4, and I am in love all over again.
To recap, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a top-down roguelike meant to mimic the dungeons and gameplay in the original Legend of Zelda. There’s a heavy item management component, as well as elements of bullet hell shooters. It is by far one of the most engrossing games I have ever played, but it is also the grossest. Binding of Isaac’s subject matter is not for the feint of heart as it combines religious iconography, Satanic imagery, allusions to abortions and the death of children, as well as a lot of fecal matter.
Afterbirth continues all of these trends, only more so. While Rebirth added extra large rooms, Afterbirth throws in L-shaped rooms, as well as smaller ones too. There’s also a ton more floor textures. The end result is a map that feels even more varied than before, meaning every game feels more distinct from the last.
There are also new enemies, new bosses, and new endings. With Afterbirth, the game feels even more challenging than it already did. If you are new to the series, then you may want to hold off on adding Afterbirth until later. If you are like me and did everthing short of mastering the game as The Lost (a character who dies in only one hit no matter what), then Afterbirth’s added challenge is welcoming and refreshing.
The expansion also adds more items and item synergies. The key to my enjoyment of Binding of Isaac is finding a really unique combination of items and then dominating with them. Sometimes though, certain items overwrite other items, leaving you pretty disappointed. Afterbirth hasn’t fixed all of them, but it has added significantly more synergies in addition to more items to create new combinations with. There’s a staggering amount of variety in the game now, and I am still excited to discover new combinations and new strategies.
The biggest change for Afterbirth and the one I have spent the most time with so far is Greed Mode. Greed Mode has you challenge waves and waves of enemes, one after the other, to earn coins. Players then can upgrade with purchases in the shop. In a sense, it is the speed dating version of Binding of Isaac. There’s minimal exploration but combat and item management are maximized. I found it to be an absolute blast, plus it’s a little quicker than the typical run, so it is a far superior pick-up-and-play version of the game.
All in all, Afterbirth is a shining example of why expansions are still important, even in the age of DLC. Rather than be a small content push, Afterbirth adds a drastic amount of content to justify its price tag. It reinvogorates the game for fans who have already sunk in a few hundred hours and provides even more content for everyone else. Rebirth was a massive game, but Afterbirth feels like it is doubling the game’s size.
For the price, I cannot think of a better upgrade to a video game in recent memory.