The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth’s new expansion Afterbirth has finally hit consoles after months of delays. With a new mode, new characters, ten new challenges, plenty of new items, and tons of updated synergies to the items, Afterbirth is a solid expansion to the roguelike title.
Greed is Good
Arguably the largest edition to the game that changes how Rebirth plays is the new Greed mode, similar to other horde modes. Each wave drops pennies on the ground to spend in the shop that accompanies each level. After 8 waves, the player engages in a pair of boss encounters followed by an optional wave that gives the players a deal with the devil (or angel) which allows players to access some of the game’s better items.
Using your cash wisely and choosing which items to buy leads to some interesting gameplay. For example, most shops allow you to spend cash (or use a bomb) to change available items. Do you buy the safe health upgrade or do you hold onto your money for a damage upgrade? This mode is perfect for players seeking to finish a game in 20 minutes. However, for experienced Isaac players, Greed mode is simply too easy. Cash is frequent and, especially with the use of a select few items (such as the D4, D100), overpowered runs occur too frequently.
While some characters in Afterbirth have seen changes for the better with added starting items, such as Eve, Cain, and the Lost, the two new characters both offer fresh and exciting ways to play. For example, newcomer Lilith can fire tears only through her familiars, companions that travel with you. Her “Box of Friends” item doubles her familiars, so she can help steamroll formerly difficult areas such as boss rush with ease. The second secret character provides a new but extremely difficult way of playing.
Where Afterbirth shines is with its updated synergies and extra items. Older items that previously had little or no synergies, unique abilities granted through a combination of items, now have plenty of new effects. The joy of discovering one remains, as always, incredibly fun. Most of the new items (about a third of the original Rebirth’s size has been added with Afterbirth) feel great and positively change gameplay such as the “8 Inch Nails” which replace your tears with nails or “Chaos” which allow a chance for any item to appear regardless of the item pool. There are with a few duds such as “Friend Zone,” a fly item that is too similar in function and appearance to previously existing familiars. Coupled with plenty of new transformations such as the Fungi, granting you a health upgrade, or Spun transformation, giving increased damage, players will still see new and exciting runs even after hundreds of times playing.
Edmund, Tyrone, and the team at Nicalis have also introduced ten new challenges (one challenge forces you to pay for each room you visit) that are fun and provide new ways to play, but experienced players won’t need more than an extra try for any failed challenge. Daily runs are added as well and allow you to compare your score across the leaderboard but the lack of true online co-op still hurts.
Afterbirth isn’t without it’s misses. Although there are plenty of new and fun bosses in Afterbirth such as the spider creating Rag Man, the two new “major bosses” of the DLC added are rather dull. The bosses have added damage resistance so whether you are rolling a tremendously overpowered run or simply an average one, each boss simply feels too much like a chore to complete regardless of your current build.
For a game that has been out for months on PC, to have a such a major bug on consoles, lack of achievements on Xbox One and trophies on PS4 not unlocking, it’s simply inexcusable.
As an experienced Rebirth player, Afterbirth is a good and solid DLC that adds plenty of extra items and synergies for players seeking new levels of depth. While there are issues with bugs, any Rebirth player should add Afterbirth to their collection.