By Josh Speer / March 31st, 2017
It should be no surprise that I’m a fanatic Binding of Isaac fan. Ever since I first played it a few years back, I was hooked by this strange, funny and violent little game. I started with Rebirth and quickly spent dozens of hours playing and unlocking new content, including characters, weapons, and items. But since I’ve covered this game so very much, this piece will be a little different. Instead of doing this as a Re-Review, I’m going to mostly focus on how Afterbirth+ plays on the latest console it has released for, the Nintendo Switch.
First of all, I feel this may be the best portable to play the game on. While I was initially worried it would be uncomfortable to play on such a large device (at least compared to Vita and New Nintendo 3DS), Afterbirth+ actually plays pretty naturally. The larger screen offers a lot better resolution and the relative brightness even makes it easier to see the darker corners the game is sometimes known for (especially helping game states like Curse of Darkness). That’s not to say that it makes the game too easy, as it’s still quite challenging. If you get a bad set of items in a run, Isaac will still likely perish. You just won’t feel like you died due to shortsighted game design.
I also really, really love screencap functionality with Afterbirth+. While many of my fellow gamers are obsessively taking screens of Link in Breath of the Wild, I’m using the handy feature to take shots of my achievements (all of my images here were from my own playthrough), such as beating hard bosses and unlocking endings. It also makes Seed sharing a breeze, as all you have to do is pause and take a picture. While I thought that taking screencaps was convenient in the Vita and PC versions of the game, it’s honestly far faster and smoother on Nintendo Switch.
Another positive point is how intuitive the game is to play in portable mode. While it’s true I haven’t docked my Switch since I bought it, it’s still important to note that the layout for portable Afterbirth+ couldn’t be easier. The + button brings up the pause screen, showing off your stuff, stats and current Seed while using the – button brings up the map and your current score. The game didn’t even have to hold my hand and tell me that, I just figured it out on my own, which was great. Furthermore, the game has zero lag, and I haven’t encountered even a slight bit of slowdown, which became a relatively common occurrence when I played Afterbirth+ on Steam.
While my experience with the game has been largely positive, there are a few things I feel need to be mentioned for the sake of my fellow gamers. I found it quite strange that unlocking content seemed to take a bit longer in some cases and a bit shorter in others. For example, when I played on Steam, the Burning Basement and Flooded Caves were both unlocked from the beginning. Yet for Switch, I had to actually unlock both of those additional floors. Also strange was that I only had to beat Mother once to unlock the Womb, whereas, in every other version of the game I’ve played, that required multiple victories over her. I also found it strange that I haven’t encountered an enemy spawning portal once yet, and I’ve been playing for many, many hours, while my Steam playthrough consisted of multiple ambushes from that most hated of enemies.
On the polish side of things, while it’s true slowdown hasn’t been a factor, I have run into some glitches. The hopping spider heads, known as Trites, often get stuck in corners, forcing me to run over to them and put them out of their misery before I can leave a room. There was also a frustrating glitch where, after trying my first Daily Run, the game crashed when I tried to post my score. Far worse was a glitch I only encountered once that seems related to the sound effects. See, more than once I’ve beaten a boss and not had the music change over like it should. One time, the music started to screech incredibly loudly, so I quit the game and tried to close it. Unfortunately, the game was frozen, so I was forced to manually shutdown my Switch by holding the power until it died. Afterward, the game played fine, but still, that glitch was troublesome. Luckily, none of these bugs was a deal breaker, and hopefully, Nicalis will find a way to patch those soon, as has been their trend with every other version of the game.
Overall, I’m quite happy to be playing The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ on my Nintendo Switch. Not only is this version of the game probably the definitive one, but it also just plays remarkably well. Once Nicalis finds the time to patch the small quirks I’ve encountered, it will be an even better experience. If you’re a fan of the game, or if you’ve always been interested, there’s never been a better time to get invested in the Binding of Isaac experience. Afterbirth+ is a hell of a good time.
AfterbirthImpressionsNicalisnintendo switchThe Binding of Isaac