Sometimes, the best places to find inspiration come from real life. Maybe not your boring, unfulfilling, effortless life. Flitting from distraction to distraction, leisurely jogging in the hamster wheel of privileged mediocrity you call life until it’s time for you to step off and die.
But people like us, the people with lives woven like great tapestries by fate, our souls twisted and tempered in the fires of true pain and suffering, those who others call “weird”, we know what life is really about. We, who are weird on the inside. We see things through the distorted lens of a cruel reality, a world sculpted by unsaid and unseen truths. Human nature without the magic of friendship and daddy’s firm yet gentle touch.
The world is not a nice place, and coming to terms with that can fill you with all sorts of unpleasant feelings. But the important thing to remember is that it’s okay. Because no matter how rough you’ve had it, you can slap that childhood trauma onto a video game or something and sell that shit to build your own stairway to the heaven we call “the hamster wheel of privileged mediocrity”.
The Binding of Isaac is kind of like that. It was originally a PC cult classic that went on to later be added onto, remade, and remastered several times, before being ported to most modern consoles with the most recent being The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth Plus. And while there are disagreements on which version is the superior and whether or not certain DLC’s are worth it more than others, the consensus still stands. This kid is fucked, and you all just love crowding around and tossing peanuts into his shit-smeared basement for laughs.
You see, this is the ultimate destiny of the weird kids out there. They may laugh at you now, kid with the mom that didn’t want a child and takes every chance she can to emasculate you and demean you that she can. But in a few years, that inner turmoil will rocket you to success. And then everyone in the world will be laughing at you. But they’ll be paying you. $4.99 for the base game. $14.99 for the remake. And don’t even get me started on all the expansions. You’re looking at about forty bucks of emotional trauma here, bud.
Binding of Isaac is a top-down dungeon-crawler, in the style of the old 2D Legend of Zelda games. But instead of a sword, you shoot tears from your eyes to kill fetuses and globs of human fecal matter. Yeah, the guy that made this could probably use some counseling or something. But who needs therapy when you can monetize the deepest essence of your tormented soul? Thank you, capitalism.
Made from the same fucked-up people that brought you Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac brings all of that bloody, fetus aborting fun and brutal difficulty they’re known for. But now with some hilariously sacrilegious undertones. All in good fun though so it’s okay, don’t worry. You can’t go to Hell if it’s tasteful and you bring a couple cold ones to crack open with God and The Boys.
The game is an arcadey, roguelike experience, with dungeons that are never quite the same no matter how often you run through them. Different nightmares will haunt you, different strange pills or Satanic effigies will appear to avail yourself of. Even playthroughs of the same dungeon will play out differently, as the many branching paths will have you coming across different enemies and items at different times.
With each playthrough, the game expands on top of what it already provides. New items and bosses will unlock, deeper floors will become available. For someone looking for replayability, Isaac does nothing but deliver. The arcade vibe may deter some players that are looking for a more permanent investment in their character, but if roguelikes are your thing, Isaac is a perfect model of the genre. Balanced and refined to the point that every playthrough is a fast-paced flurry of bloody fetus tear lasers; each experience more climactic than the next, topped off with massive boss battles against demons and giant, literal piles of shit. Like, just one big shit, one coiling serpent of filth that’s gone unpinched. If that doesn’t sound like something up your alley, I’m sorry, but you might be better off golfing or filing your taxes like the productive member of society you are.
So in a sense, it’s almost a good thing that the creators have obviously lived a horrible, emotionally scarring life. Yeah, they probably suffered a whole lot. Maybe they’re still messed up from it, and the commercial success of their magnum opus still hasn’t quite filled the void. But like, this game is rad, you know?
That is the true meaning of life, you see? Everything happens for a reason, and the reason is that it’s just more interesting that way. Sure, you could be born into a perfect family that’s financially stable, and go through life without ever knowing pain or tragedy. But your mom’s miscarriage? That’s a fucking riot. That’s the kind of stuff that adds a little substance to your dull, dull lives.
And you might think to yourself, “well if the whole point of living is to suffer, why don’t I just fucking kill myself?” Let me tell you right now, that’s not the answer. Because if you don’t suffer, if you never become an artist or musician, and never put that inner turmoil to use, what will my children play?
What movie will I take my college-educated, well-adjusted wife that I met through friends like a normal person to for our anniversary? What will we watch with the kids when we have family night? Who’s story will be on To Catch A Predator? Who’s corpse will they find on Dateline NBC?
You really shouldn’t be so selfish. Yeah, you need to suffer. But only to be interesting. For us. Come on. Everything will be okay, just cheer up. Stop being depressed. Just smile more. As long as you greet each day positively, you’ll be just fine.
You really don’t have it that bad anyway. Some kid in Africa was born without a body, so you really should just be more grateful.