As with most rogue-likes, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is very tough. From endless assaults of enemies to a single bad room that can take you down to 0 hearts from a full tank of them, there are many situations that will frustrate even the most seasoned players of the genre. Having experienced countless of these scenarios in the past week I decided I would hand out a couple of tips comprised of valuable information I have learned in my time exploring the disturbing world of Isaac. Let’s get to it!
Keep an eye on your HP
Unlike in most video games, you don’t necessarily want to keep your HP at max in Isaac. If you want to play it safe by all means hoard all the hearts you can find and keep your HP as high as you can. Unfortunately, most of the time this strategy will fail you. By keeping your HP high you end up missing out on a great deal of items/upgrades that could be crucial to you surviving the next floor or even beating Mom. I find that if I keep my HP at around 75% (50% if I have a bunch of grey or black hearts for backup) I can more easily control the amount of hearts I have for any situation that arises. If I need to lose a couple of hearts to enter a challenge room or gain a bunch to use the blood bank, or even both on the same floor, I can usually pull that off.
Don’t rush yourself
It is very important that you take your time and be sure you have done everything you can on a floor before you move on. If you have a great build and a good enough chuck of HP to take on the floor boss go ahead and make a beeline for the boss room and take him/her/it on but make sure you go back and explore the rest of the floor before you head down to the next. If you are lucky you might make it through a boss fight with minimal damage inflicted to you but most of the time you will take a decent amount of damage and going back to explore any rooms that you may have missed is crucial to making sure you are ready for the next floor. Most of the time you will even find an item/upgrade or two that will help you on your journey downward.
Remember, remember, remember!
One of the most important things to remember while playing Isaac is to, well, remember. There are so many different rooms, items, trinkets, pills, cards, upgrades, enemies and bosses that it is easy to get overwhelmed and just give up. While most of the pick-ups in the game are good, many of them are also bad. While you will definitely want the Cat-O-Nine-Tails to raise your shot speed and damage stats, you likely will not want the Dead Cat “upgrade” that reduces your maximum HP to 1 and grants you nine extra lives on most runs. It helps to write down descriptions of any pick-up you come across, their names, descriptions and uses (if you can figure it out!) on a piece of paper or word document to consult if you need to. If that seems like too much work keep a wiki open while you play to quickly find any information you may have forgotten, but don’t cheat and look up new items before you know what they are! That ruins the fun of the game. Also remember the characteristics of each enemy type/boss and how they attack so that you can easily evade their attacks on your next encounter.
Like I said above, there are many different pick-ups and types of pick-up to find in Isaac. Since everything is randomly generated with every new run you will likely never find the same combination of items or upgrades as you did in any previous run and most runs you will find at least a couple of pick-ups you have never seen before. If you have low HP and are about to die, or even if you just don’t intend on completing a run for whatever reason, don’t be afraid to pick up different combinations of items and upgrades and any new ones you may find. Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools you have in Isaac and it will be of great benefit to you to know exactly what works, what doesn’t work and what everything does for or against you.
Don’t be afraid to die
This may be the most important tip of them all. Dying is inevitable. You can try your hardest but if you end up with a particularly bad room or combination of items you will not make it to the end. Runs are pretty short, usually anywhere from 5 minutes to 25 if you are doing really well, so if you see something new don’t be afraid to go for it. It may kill you but it may also end up being the item that saves your life. At the very least you will know what it does for the next time you encounter it and you can better decide if it is worth using. It is almost always worth dying to learn something new even if it messes up that perfect run you are having.