The Binding of Isaac is probably one of the most influential games in the roguelike space. While it wasn’t the first to adopt the stylings and progression systems of iconic 1980 dungeon crawler Rogue, it certainly did a lot to popularize the format, helping spawn a surge in randomized run-based games. Now the addition of online multiplayer means you’ll finally be able to play The Binding of Isaac Repentance co-op with your friends over the internet.
The Binding of Isaac Rebirth, launched in November 2014, took the hugely successful 2011 roguelike and rebuilt it on a new engine to circumnavigate the limitations of its original Flash implementation. The result is unquestionably one of the best indie games, a masterful top-down shooter that sees you exploring procedurally generated dungeons and fighting your way through all manner of disgusting filth as downtrodden protagonist, the eponymous Isaac.
From clearing out poop monsters in your basement to descending into the very depths of heaven and hell to challenge God and Satan themselves, The Binding of Isaac is emblematic of creator Edmund McMillen’s typical gross-out style also seen in the likes of Super Meat Boy and upcoming game Mewgenics. It draws heavy inspiration from his Christian upbringing, and certainly doesn’t pull any punches in its implementation of the themes.
What truly makes The Binding of Isaac shine, however, is its expansive and comprehensive item system, which allows you to collect all manner of power-ups that you come across randomly in a run, offering everything from simple speed and attack boosts to complete reimaginings of how combat plays out.
You might find an item that turns Isaac’s tears (the standard attack projectiles) into a screen-clearing laser beam, for example. Alternatively, a different pickup might cause you to fire four shots at once instead of the usual one, or make your attacks home in on enemies. The key, however, is in how these effects combine – grab all three and suddenly Isaac is firing out four laser beams at once, each independently winding around the screen to seek out your foes.
While The Binding of Isaac Rebirth – now in its most recent iteration as The Binding of Isaac Repentance – offers a basic local co-op mode, which can be played online through Steam’s remote play tool, it’s never had official online support. That’s about to change, however. Executive producer Tyrone Rodriguez teases via Twitter, “Let’s play Isaac online together soon!”
He attaches a screenshot indicating that up to four players can join a single game together. Creator Edmund McMillen also shares the tweet, commenting, “It’s happening folks!” Personally, I’m overjoyed – it’s a great reason to go back to one of my favorite games and share it with friends. With how many weird and wonderful interactions Isaac has, being able to guide your pals through in person and help them learn the ins and outs sounds like a fantastic time.
I revisited The Binding of Isaac when its Repentance update launched, and was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up. Despite all the great roguelike games that have come along since, there’s still very few that manage to do it quite as well as Isaac does. If you’ve never descended into the depths before, perhaps now is the time – and if you have, now you can bring a friend (or three).
For those of you eager to see what McMillen has lined up next, take a look at the latest Mewgenics preview. But if all the blood, tears, and poop is a bit much for your tastes (despite my love for Isaac, I totally get it), don’t worry – we’ve got plenty more of the best co-op games for you and your friends to enjoy.