The Binding of Isaac Will Probably Offend Christians

A little controversy is rarely detrimental to a game‘s sales. And Edmund McMillen, the co-creator of Super Meat Boy is certainly no stranger to controversy. Back in 2010, Edmund claimed to have cooked up some additional press for SMB by manipulating the PETA forums. By signing into multiple dummy accounts and doing some rabble-rousing against his own game, he got PETA to respond by creating a parody called Super Tofu Boy. PETA’s game amounted to little more than an advertisement for the far superior Super Meat Boy and Team Meat’s first release became an indy sensation. In a final jab at the animal lovers, Team Meat made Tofu Boy a laughably pathetic character in SMB.

So who is Edmund provoking this time around? Christians and Jews of course! His new game, The Binding of Isaac, let’s you play as a child whose mother has been ordered to kill him by God. For those of you who weren’t forced through 8 years of Catholic school, Isaac is the son of Abraham in the Old Testament. God commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac out in the woods and kill him to prove Abraham’s devotion to God or some other nonsense. The father-son murder field trip was supposed to have taken place on the Jewish holy day of Rosh Hashanah, so it’s only fitting that the game was released on Rosh Hashanah 2011.

The Binding of Isaac is a top-down game similar to the original Legend of Zelda. After escaping his psychotic, knife-wielding mother, Isaac winds up in the monster-infested catacombs beneath his house. Instead of a sword, the protagonist starts the game armed only with his tears, which he can shoot in any direction. The game randomly generates rooms and monsters to ensure a unique playthrough each time. While many of the enemies are based on Judeo-Christian mythology, there’s also a bunch of characters inspired by other games. In one room, the player is forced to face off against an enemy that looks and attacks exactly like Bomberman.

The Binding of Isaac is currently available on Steam. The game’s randomly generated rooms, addictive gameplay and cheap price (only $5) are bound to make it a success. And I have no doubt that Edmund McMillen will be utilizing his unorthodox marketing practices to garner this game the maximum amount of attention. Even as I write this, he’s probably hitting the Christian forums and trying to stir up some contempt for his latest release. I for one, wish him the best of luck. If you can use a bunch of riled-up religious zealots to sell more copies of your game, more power to you.

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9 Comments on The Binding of Isaac Will Probably Offend Christians

SquireZed

On September 30, 2011 at 7:21 am

You forget to mention that Issac didn’t die in the end (except maybe in the game, haven’t played it yet). Still, the game makes the crucial flaw of mistaking mental illness (psychotic violence and schizophrenia, anyone?) for religion.

Dave Moss

On September 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

I see you know some scripture SquireZed. I did not include the part about Isaac not dying because I didn’t feel it was important. The important part is that Abraham was WILLING to kill his son. That’s messed up in my opinion. As far as the game mistaking mental illness for religion, I think its goal is to draw a comparison between the two. The parents of the game’s Isaac and the biblical Isaac are happy to murder their own offspring because of some voice in their heads. I think it’s an apt comparison.

Mac

On October 1, 2011 at 8:58 am

Dave, just to be clear, Abraham wasn’t happy to kill his son. (This is the part where you start to get angry and formulate your response to this but please just keep reading and you’ll see that I’m not trying to bash you.)

Throughout the story, Abraham is wrought with anguish that God told him he had to kill Isaac. Throughout the story, Abraham says that God will deliver the sacrifice. It’s not until the end of the story that Abraham is about to go through with it which at that point God tells him to stop and sacrifice a ram caught in some bushes. This story is meant to be a foreshadowing of Christ being forsaken and slain by God as a propitiation for the sins of the world.

I think anyone who thinks this game isn’t trying to make a statement is lying to themselves and anyone who makes too big a deal of it has too much time on their hands and needs to take the plank out of their own eye. The game is disturbing regardless of your religious beliefs. A lot of stories in the Bible though are disturbing as well.

While, yes, I find the game disturbing and myself offended, I also find it remarkably refreshing. Rarely do games poke and prod beliefs and challenge people in what they believe. They’re meant to be escapist entertainment. Obviously, these guys were thinking about something more than the dude-bro-fist-bump games of today. I. Love. That. These guys pumped this game out in 4 months from concept to Steam downloadable. That’s incredibly impressive.

FBI

On October 2, 2011 at 12:43 am

Let’s say that the story of Isaac happened in the modern day in a modern Western country. If the father claimed that God told him to kill his son, and even if the father claimed he didn’t want to do it, how would the authorities react? How would the father be classified, as delusional or faithful?

David Moss

On October 3, 2011 at 12:07 am

Mac, I’m glad you found the game refreshing and were able to enjoy it despite being offended by it. I do realize that Abraham was not happy about being told to kill his son, but he was still willing to do it. Many mentally ill people also feel that killing is something they have to do rather than want to do. I think the comparison holds up.

KYP

On October 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Im glad that this game pisses off religious people. Wake Up!

ChocoShell

On July 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

the ending song is the demonic version of “Jesus Loves Me”…

Triua

On July 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Wow, the writer of this article is one of the biggest hatefully immature idiots I have seen in a while, way to miss the mark, not to mention one of the ends is the real God saves him, grow up, as Atheist much smarter then you (not hard, I know) will tell you how idiotic it’s to completely dis-regard a God.

Snapdargin

On November 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

“The parents of the game’s Isaac and the biblical Isaac are happy to murder their own offspring because of some voice in their heads.” – Dave Moss

Wrong, they weren’t happy at all to do it – and in the end, they didn’t have to.

On the other end of the spectrum, scores of people today go out and murder their own offspring out of nothing more than mere convenience. They just happen to do the killing in-utero.

Funny how most anti-religious people are a-ok with that…

Religious bigotry aside, the gameplay is 100% knockoff of ‘Legend of Zelda’ except it has a dank, bland and ugly coat of paint. Shooting turds… seriously?