2-4 Unlocking the D6: It Only Took Me 9 Months and 223 Attempts

So I apologize but this next post is going to be a deep in the weeds, very “you need to understand the meta of the game” kind of post. And if you’re not a fan of the roguelike game Binding of Isaac, well then what I’m about to say isn’t going to mean much. Though maybe you can at least appreciate the dedication and the sense of accomplishment for what I’ve just done in this game.

Binding of Isaac, Unlocking the D6 Item

I finally unlocked the D6 by defeating Isaac in the Cathedral using ???. This is not easy. I’ve been trying to do this for months and months and I’ve failed again and again and again. The reason being that unlike most other dungeon runs, you have a very limited number of hits that you can take and the ability to replenish your life is also at a premium.

The Binding of Isaac is my “forever game”. There’s something about htis game that has just taken root inside of my soul and it’s the game I keep on going back to. I may pick up other games but I always return to this one.

I should also note that this is a game that keeps on giving, there have been at least 3 major expansions DLCs, one of which will be released later this Winter. And I’ve only scratched the surface. I still have some characters to unlock and a number of secret endings that I’ve yet to see. It will be a sad day indeed when I’ve unlocked everything this game has to offer.

Thank you Edmund McMillen.

1-10 Gaming Timeline: From RPG to Roguelike

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how the types of games has evolved over time.

In my youth it was all about platformers: Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man 2. Throw in a little sides-crolling beat-em up: Double Dragon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Fighting games were also something I enjoyed playing (though was not very good at): Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II.

Then there nothing for a long time. I just didn’t game for so many years because I lacked the gaming PC and/or consoles to play said games. I jumped from NES and Sega Genesis to Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS. Quite a leap.

In my mid to late 20s, I was all about (Tactical and non) RPGs: Advanced Wars, Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest, Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy Tactics, etc. I played primarily on handhelds: Sony Vita, Nintendo DS/3DS.

I dabbled in some MMORPGs as well and ventured into World of Warcraft & Everquest. It didn’t last long, I grew kind of bored and paying for a subscription was hurting my wallet.

I built a dedicated gaming PC about 5 years ago and I fell hard into immersive sims: Dishonored, Bioshock, Prey, Deus Ex, Tomb Raider. I also discovered 4x games like Civilization, Endless Legend. Other grand strategy games like Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis also consumed my life for a while.

And this is where my gaming life sort of fractured and took a hard turn.

It coincides with that part of my adulthood where I’ve had to focus on my career and my personal life a bit more. Dating, marriage, work, those “grown-up” things that people do, it pulled me away from so much of gaming. I just don’t have time for 80-120 hour RPG sims. I wish I did because I still love these types of games. I just don’t have time.

The Nintendo Switch has been a godsend in this way. Having the ability to play a game on the go and to just stop and start on my terms has allowed me to still be an adult and game. And yet, even though I have the ability to take games like Skyrim and Witcher III to work or on vacation (no longer limited to my gaming PC), I rarely slide these cartridges into my Switch.

Instead, I’m on my 500th hour of Binding of Isaac and my 150th hour of Slay the Spire. These roguelike games are the most perfect cocktail of gameplay for my life. I can jump in and out and go through a dungeon run in about 40-60 minutes, I can also pause at any time and come right back to where I last left off, so even if I don’t have the full hour to play, I’m not in a space where I’m losing progress. The stories for these games are also minimal and don’t require so much of my attention.

I feel like I’ll be playing these games for the rest of my life. I’ve heard these types of games termed as your “forever games”. Games you will never set aside and will continue to play as long as you’re physically capable.

1-8 Depression: Playing Difficult Games to Fight My Own Demons

I recently made a post on MetaFilter about Blasphemous, a souls-like 2D metroidvania sidescroller. egypturnash made the following remark:

It looks very pretty but I do not think I am at a point in my life where I need a brutally difficult Metroidvania full of melancholy, sadness, and angst,

While I can respect this opinion, I think the last few years of my gaming life has actually pulled me towards more games like this. My favorite game is arguably one of the most frustrating bullet-hell rogue-lites of all time. I frequently find myself replaying Dark Souls II and other souls-like games where the difficulty is elevated and a part of the fun.

Stepping away from the actual game-play, the themes of these games are also pretty consistent. They are often set in grimdark worlds filled with monsters, demons, the undead. In Binding of Isaac, you literally battle Satan.

I could see why a game like this would depress someone. But for me, there’s a comfort in these games. Good and evil are clearly delineated. Also, battling demons with a sword is just fun. 🙂