The Binding of Isaac is easily one of the best roguelikes out there, and it's got the lofty player numbers and glowing review scores to prove it.
Still, there's one aspect of the game that creator Edmund McMillen wishes he'd done differently. In a new Steam post, he writes "if you were to ask me what I thought the biggest flaw with The Binding of Isaac is, I would 100% say it's not explaining what each item does on the HUD when you stand next to it."
Items are an integral part of The Binding of Isaac, giving the little fellow a fighting chance against the monstrosities lurking in his mother's basement by granting him stats boosts and all manner of weird and wonderful abilities. When the game launched in 2011, there were 100 different items that you could come across, and the only way to discover what they did was to try them out.
Explaining his reason behind this design decision, McMillen says, "To me, Isaac was mysterious, and the lack of info on items complemented that; you were forced to experiment and see what items did by using them..."
But as the item count grew with each expansion, so did McMillen's regret at not having included descriptions for items. "700+ items later, this idea simply doesn't work at all," he says. "I remember after Wrath of the Lamb was released, people would always say, 'You can't play Isaac without a browser open on your phone.' I hated that that's how everyone played for so long... and still plays (unless they download that mod)."
With his next game, Mewgenics, McMillen is doing things differently. "My #1 for Mewgenics was always, 'We need as much simple and to-the-point info as possible'. […] That isn't to say that there won't be a few bits of hidden info here and there for you to discover, but the core idea of every element of a game like this needs to be there at the wave of your cursor at all times."
Announced back in 2018, Mewgenics is a cat-breeding RPG with Pokemon-style combat and the same striking visual style and dark sense of humour as Isaac. McMillen came up with the idea over a decade ago, and he describes it as "the most exciting game" he's ever developed. It's slated to launch in 2024, and you can currently wishlist it on Steam.
In the meantime, why not put your survival skills to the test with our pick of the best roguelikes.