The Binding of Isaac video game was never planned as anything big. Created in one week, it slowly crawled through Steam’s popularity rankings. Edmund McMillen, Isaac’s creator, never expected the game to become a smash hit. To his surprise Isaac sold over 5 million copies and got ported to almost every gaming console on the market, becoming one of the most successful indie games ever made.
After releasing bunch of updates and expansions, McMillen decided to try something new. He began working on a card game devoted to his naked, crying little hero.
What’s “Binding of Isaac” All About
The original video game seems simple at first. You control a character, collect coins, avoid traps and fight enemies. Everything was made to feel like a retro RPG action game. It was the theme that made it different. Almost every character in the game has some biblical name and there are connections with religion everywhere. Crazy mix of almost disgusting surroundings, bordering on toilet humor, with religious symbolism made for quite an unique experience.
And most importantly: the game content was randomly generated. That’s right: each time you started, your hero went through a totally different adventure, with different bosses and sometimes: alternate endings. All of that made it incredibly replayable and addictive.
Now for the main question: can you transfer all of this to a classic tabletop game?
More Than a Simple Adaptation
McMillen stated that he wasn’t trying to just create a card version of his game. Binding of Isaac: Four Souls aimed to be something completely else, but at the same time somehow familiar to fans. Instead of reaching the final boss (like in the video game), players have to collect four souls. Whoever does it first – wins. Despite these changes, the game is filled with enemies, bosses, cards, curses and other things taken straight from the original.
The Gameplay or How to Lose Your Friends in 30 minutes
Binding of Isaac: Four Souls can be played by 2 to 4 players. You begin by placing 3 special decks on the table. Each deck represents either: monsters, treasures and loot – emulating random encounters from the video game. Next: 2 monster and 2 treasure cards are placed heads up on the table. Finally each player draws 3 loot cards and gets 3 penny coins.
Each turn you draw a loot card, play one of your own, buy treasures or engage in combat. It’s also possible to play a second card once per round. It can be done in your own turn or during your opponent’s.
Binding of Isaac: Four Souls starts calmly but the closer it gets to the end, the more negative interaction is bound to take place. It’s almost impossible to win without betraying people (or blowing them up).
Overall: the gameplay will feel familiar to Munchkin fans, but it seems tad more advanced. We’ll know more when a complete manual gets released.
A Perfect Campaign
The Kickstarter campaign for Binding of Isaac: Four Souls is pure gold. It incorporates everything fans love about McMillen’s creations. Drawings are great and look like taken straight from the game. The main video is pretty much the original game’s intro, but with the developer in the place of Isaac. And most importantly…
Social stretch goals. These were divided in so called “quests”, where many fans had to perform various special tasks to add more stuff to the game. Here are some examples:
- take a photo of themselves hiding in a chest or a box
- beat the video game playing with their feet only (with photo evidence)
- write a poem about their mom
- adopt a cat and name it Guppy
So far the campaign is doing great. The success feels similar to Exploding Kittens, where fans of the creator flocked to the game and made others curious enough to pledge. McMillen collected over $1 244 000 and has 13 days left until the end of funding.