The Dissection of Isaac

•January 26, 2012 • 4 Comments

Last year, Edmund McMillen (the mind behind Super Meat Boy, Time Fcuk and Aether) released the twin-stick Bible-gore shooter The Binding of Isaac. If you haven’t played it then go and grab it off Steam. It’s only like $5 and well worth the price. My time counter has only just started working properly since the Christmas patch and it’s already at 36 hours, not to mention countless hours of gameplay beforehand. It really is an interesting mix of exploration, twitch-gameplay and randomness. With a major update coming soon, TBoI is a game that will give you far more bang for your buck. It also includes some very interesting themes…

The conceit of the game is that you play as a small child called Isaac who is trapped in a basement filled with deformities after running from his Mom who’s on a holy crusade due to a message received from God. Now, this fills the game with lots of Christian imagery and themes that have somehow managed to not cause that much of a stir. Not because it can’t be taken as offensive (there are numerous pokes at religion throughout) but because the story isn’t about the evil of religion. It’s about a small boy who’s imagination has run wild.

The story sets out simply enough and I fell for it on my first, second and tenth play-through. It was only once I managed to beat Sheol and get the final ‘true’ ending did it all seem to make sense. For those of you not wanting to know, go and play the game yourself and come back (if you can stop yourself from playing). Some people have been taken in by the story of Mom and all of the back-story to Isaac but I think it is far simpler than that. The introduction to the game is all shown to be drawn on paper and is narrated until it reaches its climax to show Isaac in his room (drawn in a different style) with a smile on his face and surrounded by drawings. It quickly pans round to some piles of paper and the menu is written upon it. The menus are all hand-written and include drawings alongside. We then select to start the game and are once again greeted by a third style of art and the game begins.

So we have three different Isaacs and three different styles. The first style is the one that Isaac has drawn himself and is why it all appears on paper. The narration is also composed of short and simple sentences which are the thoughts of Isaac in this story he has written himself. The second Isaac is the real Isaac and the third Isaac (the one we play as) is the one within the true Isaac’s imagination. This boy is not tortured or threatened by his Mom, but is a creative child who feels lonely having being raised by a single mother. The only father figure in his life has been delivered to him through religion (be it Satan or God) and feels that it is He who is responsible for his Mom’s loneliness and, thus, his neglect. The final ‘true’ ending shows Isaac locking himself in a chest in his room and shutting out the world. He is misunderstood and feels lonely. His drawings are his escape. Not the basement.

It was a surprise ending that had me welling up a little. It truly is sad. It’s a game about loneliness being dressed up with religion and antagonists, when really, it is about a world that has betrayed and left him. After watching some clips of the Indie Game Movie of Edmund McMillen did I realise how much more personal this game is to McMillen. He describes in this clip how he felt lonely as a child and this is how the game Aether came about. It was an exploration of his feelings as a child and how he used his drawings as an escape tool. It is a theme that is littered throughout Isaac. It is therefore not hard to assume that real name of this game should be The Binding of Edmund.

EDIT: Thanks to Edmund for the re-post, really appreciate it. If anyone has any thoughts on my interpretation, please do shoot a message in the comments and I’ll be happy to reply.

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Tonsils the size of moon rocks

•January 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

God damn I feel awful. Let me get you back to the start of this woeful story, to whence Lord Tonsillitis cometh my way. It was a Sunday afternoon and I felt especially tired considering the lack of any activity that was outside of my usual routine but yet I insisted on staying up and watching Sherlock despite a 6:30am start the next day. After waking up at 3am and then consequently vomiting, I realised that work probably wasn’t an option. So, for the last 5 days I’ve been staying in at home doing nothing more than listening to old episodes of My Brother My Brother And Me (which is incredibly funny by the way) and playing a mixture of Skyrim and The Binding of Isaac. I did go to the Doctor who prescribed me some penicillin and I’ve been on that the last two days. It’s starting to clear up but my throat is still a little bit sore. It is in dire need of some huggems and lovin’. My friend asked me how my throat felt and I said it felt like I had been deepthroating Hellraiser without my knowledge. Maybe he snuck in during the night and plonked his bits in my mouth without me noticing. Although, with needles poking out of it (I mean, it’s never explicitly said if his WHOLE body is like that, but we shall presume it is) it would hurt immensely.

The Binding of Isaac though is a fantastic and genre-warping game that I absolutely adore. Once you get past the fecal and urine soaked exterior, it really is a heart-wrenching story about a little boy who has nobody in his life to turn to. I will definitely get round to writing a whole piece on it but man, I feel so sorry for that kid. The final ending (before the super mega update coming in a month or so) nearly had me in tears. It’s so sad but also puts the rest of the game into a perspective that more than makes up for all of the piss and shit.

But I should probably do some sleeping now as I need to get my rest to fight off this infection in my face. Look at that face above. Does he look happy? Fuck no he doesn’t.

Detroit Part 3/3

•January 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Here is the third and final part of my trip to Detroit. Maybe I should add some pictures to these. I’ll do that later.

 

After listening to David Mitchell the other night ranting about how they should adopt a different queueing system at pubs in which people who are ordering anything more complicated than ‘a beer, wine or simple mixed drinks’ then they should be made to join a separate queue with other irritating people. The same should also be true with the toilets on planes. Number 1? Come up front. Ohh, what’s that? You need to drop a dook? Join the long queue. This shouldn’t just happen on planes, but in any toilets. Anything more complicated than a tinkle, then you’ll just have to hold on and join your brethren. This system would also allow the Number 1ers to relieve themselves without getting the previous occupant’s particles up in their nostrils.

 

It’s been 50 minutes now and I’ve just managed to hit 1,000 words. I’ve still got four hours left and I can see a Wendy’s over to my right. I’ve always wanted to try a Baconator so today might finally be that day. I’ll go and have one and will no doubt be writing about it as there’s nothing else to do.

 

Just so you know, I had a Baconator and it was delicious. So much so, I had a double Baconator on my return trip to England.

Detroit 2/3…and 100 posts!

•January 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Here’s part 2 of 3 of my travels in Detroit but it is also my 100th post! I’ll make a proper picture or something for it when I can be bothered. ETA: Never.

 

It was as easy as that. I didn’t get much other interaction out of her other than that and it took me a while to place who she was, where she was going and what her whole deal was. From my spyin… I mean observations, I could tell she was a Jewish woman (Sherlock Holmes here) who was from Washington (couldn’t say whether it was DC or not, I could only see her driver’s license for so long) and her last name was Fartun. That made me laugh as any childish man would. You may have noticed that my description changed from Arabic to Jewish and there’s good reason for this. At first I figured she was a Muslim from her get-up. She had a head-scarf and had henna painted all over her from head to toe. And yes, I did see her toes. She got her shoes and socks off despite my judge-filled glances so I saw all of her little piggies. I eventually pin-pointed her as Jewish from her special tray of food that had KOSHER plastered all over it. I didn’t realise you could get kosher eggs and mushroom but apparently so. I bet she’s glad she got her kosher meal as my omelette and selection of fruits weren’t killed in the right way. It just annoys me when people get ‘special’ meals when it’s not entirely necessary or sensible to do so. For starters (pun intended) she got her meal before everyone else and also got a much larger meal than I. Not that mine wasn’t enough, but her tray was filled with all kinds of goodies. Croissants, sesame seeded roll, omelette with mushrooms and a mushroom sauce, soft cheese and some chocolate. The worst part of all this is that she didn’t even eat it all. For my breakfast I had an omelette, cheese and crackers, a plain bread roll and some fruit. What part of that meal isn’t kosher?

 

Next to us the company wasn’t much better. It was a huge Jamaican couple who I am eternally grateful to have not been squashed up against. The woman had such a chubby face that she looked like an overweight bulldog who had been pushed at high speeds backwards on a skateboard. All of her face seemed to gather up at her nose. The gentleman wasn’t much different and he looked rather uncomfortable for the entirety of the eight hour flight. I was thinking, as I was trying to stand up at the end of the flight, that they should prioritise who gets to stand up first. All of the fat people should be made to stand up last as they take up more space. If the plane had five or ten fat people on them, which is beyond likely, if they all stood up first, they are taking up the room of twenty people between ten of them. Leave them seated and let the rest of us have some space. Besides, the couple sat down after five minutes of waiting as their kankles hurt.

Detroit Part 1/3

•January 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I did a bunch of traveling this summer and one of the places I got to see (well the airport at least) was Detroit. After having to spend 8 hours there for a connecting flight, twice, I got to know the airport quite well and had a few things to say about my fellow passengers and locale. This is Part 1.

 

It’s not that I don’t like traveling, I do, it broadens the mind. Apparently. But here I am stuck in Detroit for the second hour with just another five left to go until I can finally get on my flight to Quebec. I’ve not seen much of Detroit so maybe the airport isn’t the best thing to judge a whole city, and subsequently the whole of Michigan, on but from what I’ve seen, it’s brown, flat and brown. Oh, did I mention that it’s brown? From out of the plane’s windows it looked like scorched earth with a smattering of paddling pools and lakes here and there. Maybe it’s the fact I’ve already been traveling for 13 hours that I’m a little bit miserable but my flight from Heathrow was incredibly dull, as was the person I was sat next to.

 

Our relationship didn’t get off on the right foot and I feel that I may have been far too aggressive from the get-go, but she needed to know who was boss. I decided which seat I wanted well in advance and I wanted to have a window seat. Not for any real purpose other than that I can lean on it and fall asleep. That’s probably the only reason. So, when I go to sit down and find a small Arabic looking lady sat in my seat, I had to inform her of the power-balance that I was about to strike. With a flash of my boarding pass and a mumble in what can only be described as unintelligible British charm and anxiety, I got her to move. I managed to move a woman with nothing more than a flash and a little white lie.

 

This your seat?” she asked.

Yes. I need to sit by the window or I get travel sick.”

……

Return for 2012

•January 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Just happy to be there

It’s a new year and a new chance for me to restart this old blog and actually post some stuff up on here. The last time I wrote was just before my trip to France way back in June. Half a year later (christ, it has actually been that long) and I’m now with my awesome girlfriend who I got together with in Paris. Been together since then and all is good, apart from her living 3,500 miles away in Quebec, but that’s a small problem.

I have a couple of things to post up on here over the next few days including a bit of travel blogging I did when I was in Detroit airport for 7 hours. It doesn’t paint the best picture of Detroit but I didn’t entirely enjoy my stay at Wayne County Airport. I’m sure the rest of the city is great (seeing as it has spawned some of my favourite musicians like Electric Six) but I didn’t really get it. You will also get to see what an 8 hour flight did to my mental psyche.

That’s it for now but will post something up in the next couple of days. I’m going to start re-using this for video game blogging as well. Want to keep up to date and all that.

Rubik’s Record

•June 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Been a little while since I’ve written on here. I swear I probably start every single post with that line. Anyway. Since last time I wrote I’ve spent a couple weeks of time back at home and also did some runner work on a programme for Channel 4 which was interesting considering I hadn’t driven in nearly 2 years and then I was tasked with driving to Kent and back. It wasn’t as hard to get back into the swing of driving again and then I quickly remembered how boring driving actually is. The worst part about being back home and then doing that job was that I couldn’t go to the gym for 2 weeks and I started to really feel fidgety without going.

I also took part in the 2011 Depaul UK Rubik’s Cube World Record attempt in London. The task was to have the most number of people solve the cube in one place within an hour. The previous record was set at 301 just a week ago at a school in India so it was a great success when we managed to finish with 330 people. Rubik’s also kindly donated £100 for every person taking part. On that one day, we managed to beat a world record and also raised £35,000 for charity which can only be fantastic! There was a real mix of people there from all different walks of life and also at very differing ability with the Rubik’s cube. There were some speedcubers there and there were also some people taking part who had never finished a cube before. There was also a blind guy there who managed to finish his specially textured cube before some of the people with full vision. When my brother and I got to our table, there were two guys there and one of them had never done a cube before and literally just walked in off the street to help raise money for charity. I didn’t stay to see if he eventually managed it but good on him for turning up anyway.

The house is also getting empty and lonely now as half of my housemates have moved out so I’m on my own more often than not. The peace and quiet is nice but there’s nothing to do. I’m just trying to stop myself from going insane before I disappear to France for a week. Really looking forward to having a nosey round Paris and getting a bit of ‘cultcha’. I think I deserve a holiday.

Oh yeah, I also managed to graduate with a First Class degree with honours which was unexpected but very welcome. Can’t really complain about that!