The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth Game Poster Image
Bloody dungeon crawler pits abused boy against crazed mom.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 23 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Perseverance and dedication themes are overwhelmed by religious fervor, psychological torture, and "kill or be killed" imagery and concepts.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Isaac's a tough and resourceful kid doing his best to survive a horrible situation, but most of his thoughts show evidence of psychological scarring by family and schoolmates.

Ease of Play

Extremely challenging reflex-, strategy-, and skill-based play. You have one life to finish a run-through of Isaac's basement dungeon; most players will fail dozens of times.

Violence

Isaac's projectile-like tears destroy worms, spiders, mutated humans, living piles of feces, and more. Blood gushes from wounds and coats the ground. Some enemies function after losing body parts. Body parts remain on the ground when severed.

Sex

Isaac's stick-figure penis is sometimes visible.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a darkly funny but clearly adult-oriented downloadable game about a kid frantically exploring his basement as he attempts to escape his deranged, murderous mother. His flight through rooms teeming with bizarre creatures (ranging from deformed conjoined twins to sentient excrement) involves tons of bloody violence -- though, strangely, his primary weapon is his tears, which he flings at attackers. Blood gushes from fallen enemies and coats the ground. The narrative critiques religious fanaticism; Isaac's mom believes God is telling her to murder her offspring. Isaac is a brave and sympathetic hero, but as the game progresses, he increasingly shows signs of psychological and physical scarring, donning bizarre costumes and making deals with the devil. Despite the main character's young age, this game is targeted at older players capable of digesting its edgy and potentially controversial commentary.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 13 year old Written bygalena October 22, 2015

It's educational

This game isn't as bad as they make it seem. There are a lot of educational components and most kids are able to understand the content in terms of the pe... Continue reading
Adult Written byNickonicko123 April 22, 2015

It was very fun

I think as long as the parents aren't to uptight and the kids are able to realize that it is just a game
Teen, 15 years old Written byboldber March 2, 2015

Check how your kid thinks about religion

As a member of a somewhat loosely Catholic family, I did find The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth's plot setup somewhat odd. At first glance, the game looks surp... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHardCoreNate November 21, 2014

Amazing series

I watched my best friend play the series and i loved the game! It looks fun! It does have a ton of blood, crude humor, violence but thats only to be expected si... Continue reading

What's it about?

THE BINDING OF ISAAC: REBIRTH is a remake of a hit indie dungeon crawler for PCs. It follows the story of Isaac, a young boy who plays in his living room while his mother watches religious programming on TV. But life takes a dark turn when the mom begins to hear the voice of God telling her to take away Isaac's toys and lock him in his room. Eventually God tells her to kill Isaac, who escapes through a trapdoor into the house's labyrinthine basement. But moving from one creepy room to the next -- the dungeon's configuration is randomly generated with each new play-through -- Isaac encounters a horrific menagerie that ranges from spiders and sharp-toothed slugs to conjoined twins and a grinning (but deadly) pile of poop. Isaac flings his tears at his enemies to destroy them, and, as he descends further, he collects his mom's shoes and lipstick, evil-looking playing cards, and a beating heart, which affect his status and abilities. He even makes deals with the devil, trading some of his life for deformed siblings to help him defeat the creatures attacking him.

Is it any good?

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a smartly designed and wickedly fun game with a massive amount of unlockable content. Dungeon exploration -- highly reminiscent of classic Legend of Zelda games -- is deeply addictive, largely because of the lure of finding out whether traps or treasure lie beyond the next door. And the pixelated presentation, while rudimentary, is distinctive; the game has personality to spare. What's more, the interface, revamped from the original PC game, is designed to take advantage of dual thumbstick controllers, delivering much more precise movement and aiming. The action feels terrific.

And it's not only fun, it's smart. The narrative -- about a boy diving into his cellar to escape his crazed mom -- is weirdly emotional, despite its often crass (but also laugh-out-loud funny) humor. Isaac is a deeply sympathetic character; you'll be desperate for him to escape his torture. Whenever he doesn't -- and you see the death screen in which he wills his few pitiful possessions to his cat, Guppy -- you'll feel very sad for him. With retro action, hundreds of interesting treasures, and dozens of endings, this is one of the best adult-oriented indie games of 2014.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about social commentary in games like The Binding of Isaac. Are they simply mindless entertainment, or do you think they deliver messages?

  • Discuss the impact of violence in games. The Binding of Isaac is an extremely violent game with plenty of blood and gore, but it has rudimentary, pixelated visuals. What's more disturbing, the depiction of gory violence or the meaning of and reasons behind it?

Game details

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