Game Theory:  Does Isaac DIE?!? Binding of Isaac Rebirth’s Endings EXPLAINED.
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Game Theory: Does Isaac DIE?!? Binding of Isaac Rebirth’s Endings EXPLAINED.

August 27, 2019


Hey!! Have you seen the first episode of my brand new show “Deadlock” yet? Think video game debates on STEROIDS! Click this annototation or the link in the description to check it out I’ll link to it at the end of the video too Early response has been good so… I think you’re gonna like what you see “Warning ! this video will most likely contain a comment section full of YouTube commenters aggressively arguing over the merits of organized religion. Viewers of this video, you’re good to go! “But readers who dare to go below the fold, your discretion is advised.” (Video Game Music) Hello Internet! Welcome to Game Theory! Queue the John Williams cause we’re gettin’ Indie up in here. The Binding of Isaac Man! This game is depressing, disturbing, dark… even some adjectives that DON’T start with D Like uh… Baffling, Obtuse, just plain weird! For those of you not familiar with it The Binding of Isaac was the 2011 follow-up to Super Meat Boy Made by artist and game designer Edmund McMillen. It was a HUGE success on Steam, so last year they touched it up and expanded it into “The Binding of Isaac Rebirth” Honestly it’s a fantastic top-down roguelike tribute to the original Legend of Zelda So you know the gameplay’s gonna be good But where this game really makes it’s mark is in it’s story. This game comes from the Five Nights at Freddy’s school of story telling Throw some crazy disturbing stuff against the wall, Drop some hints that there’s a meaning behind madness and let the theorists of the world sort it out, And that’s exactly what we intend to do So the game begins with an opening narration spoken over top of some drawings It tells the tale of Isaac and his mother We’re told that they live alone on a hill. Isaac draws while his mother watches Christian TV programs- probably a mix between EWTN and the 700 club Anyway we’re told that Mom starts to hear a voice from above Presumably God Telling her that Isaac is unclean The comic then shows that she takes away his clothes, toys and drawings Then locks him away in his room The voice congratulates the mother for her work but then demands that she make a sacrifice of Isaac to prove her loyalty She enters the room carrying a large kitchen knife but Isaac escapes through a trap-door hidden under the rug and is plunged into a world where he must use his TEARS as a weapon against demons, bugs, anthropomorphised poop, and his mother’s own womb! Yeeeah (kids cheering) Indie games ladies and gentlemen! Ho ho and I should probably mention that there are 16 endings Most of which feature Isaac opening a chest to find some new, horrific item and all, in some way hinting at some greater meaning! But what is it? Well that’s why we’re here today and why you’ve requested an episode on this game so much! So grab your bibles and knives ’cause We’re diving into the Depths And the Cathedral, Chest, Catacombs and womb To figure out what this game is REALLY all about And quick spoiler warning we’re talking about the game’s various endings Though, let’s be honest, this stuff is so complex and open to interpretation anyway, It’s not like I’m actually spoiling anything for you just deepening your appreciation of it So, you’re welcome, Internet. Now I’ve seen A LOT of online forums just dismissing this story as a bash on religion With mom being a religious psycho and all that And I can see how people would draw that conclusion The name of the game “Binding of Isaac” is also the common name for a story Mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the Qu’ran, and the Christian Bible Where Abraham, a super old descendant from Noah is commanded by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac on a mountain Gotta admit, that’s gonna set off a lot of emotions Just had a conversation with God! That’s pretty cool but he just told you to kill your son, that kinda sucks Anyway he commits to it because he trusts in God And just before he’s about to do the deed an angel shows up, stops him, saves his son, and makes him kill a ram instead Since, you know, old school religious parables are HARSH So the game is clearly referencing the story and then you have mom standing in the doorway ready to attack her son with a knife Clearly addressing down on religion Unless she’s not standing there ready to attack here son with a knife Notice how we are presented with a story Through Isaac’s own drawings You can even see his name in the bottom corner signing his artwork Also, remember the part in the story where Isaac’s mother take all his toys and drawings away where its even shown that she rips them off the walls? Well look in the background during all the cut scenes We see Isaac’s drawings hanging up there Its odd right?! & Seriously Let’s be honest, Issac doesn’t really escape through a hidden trap-door to fight hordes of sentient fecal matter CLEARLYYYY this is a game about fantasy vs reality The framing story Isaac illustrates is exactly that, a STORY, a fantasy he created Mother isn’t sacrificing Isaac, at least not literally And when she appears threateningly In the doorway that’s just a young boy’s over-active imagination. Mom probably just came back from preparing dinner BUT clearly theres a connection between Isaac’s real life and the fantasy we play through in this game. So whats actually going on here?! We’ll we need to start picking apart the symbolism. Obviously we know this is a religious household. Isaac’s mom watches Christian programming, He creates story themed around the tale of Abraham and Isaac, and all the other characters in the game are also biblical allusions. Theres Judas who betrayed Jesus which resulted in Jesus’ crucifiction Eve, of Adam and Eve fame who committed the first sin by listening to the Devil’s advice Kane, one of Adam and Eve’s two sons, who killed his brother Abel Magdeline, most likely a reference to Mary Magdeline, one of Jesus’ follower and often though to be a reformed prostitute. And Samson, who is kinda like Hercules with his hair blessed by a vow to God acting as a source to his strength until he let a woman cut it. So there’s your cast of playable avatars and in ending 12, we see that these arn’t separate personas. These are all Isaac assuming the different characters. See how he flashed through them all. We even see how he enjoys dressing up as them. In one of the loading cut-scenes , we see him receive the Magdeline wig, which he excitingly wears until all the other kids make fun of him for it. Kidssss SUCK MAN If the kid wants to dress like a biblical prostitute , I say let him. 6th and 7th grade (whewww) THOSE WERE THE WORST Sorry I’m projecting a bit too mucnh But my sucky middle school experience aside. Look again at the roster of characters he chooses to dress as. Sinners. Judas, the betrayer. Eve, the original sinner. Kane, the first murderer. Mary Magdeline, the prostitute And Samson, the guy who got a haircut OK so one of these is not like the other, but it is kinda of a big deal When its about a God not to cut your hair and he give you super strength in exchange for it. Issace in dressing like these guys sees himself as another of these unholy characters. He sees himself as demon. And thats not just me being metaphorical He LITERALLY sees himself as being a Demon in ending 13 He closes the bible, looks at himself in the mirror, and sees the evil inside of him. He then looks to the toy chest and as we see in ending 12 gets into it, with his DEAD cat. YEP! This is where it starts to get dark! If the stuff about a fanatic mom threatening to kill her naked child didn’t already get you there! Isaac is a sensitive, creative. Boy. He draws, he reads, he reads, he proudly dresses his Mary Magdeline. He has an incredibly rich internal life. But as we see throughout clues in the game. His external life has been rough. His mother may not actually brandish knives at him, but she is certainly is restrictive and un-loving. Isaac’s room is scarce. She give him turds as presents. She pushes him aside when he tries to hug her. And other kids arn’t any better. They laugh at him, de-pants him, even, AR-ARE THEY POOPING ON HIM?!?! SHEEEESHH!!! KIDS ARE THE WORST!! and though the intro narration says he and his mother live alone. Ending 14 tells us even more. They live alone NOWWW. But growing up Isaac had a father, one who, as we see in the final Polaroid picture, left them. And if all of that wasn’t enough, In ending 16 we see Isaac’s dead cat Guppy, who is such an important part of Isaac’s life. Any time you receive a game over, all of your possession are bequeathed to HIMMM. GUPPY! A DEAD CAT! And certainly all this weighs on Isaac. he feels guilty about it Responsible for all these bad things happening in his life. In fact one of the new characters introduced in the “Rebirth” update alludes to this “Azazel”, the scape goat, the one who takes the blame! And because of ALLL of this, he needs an escape. A literal place to hide away, the toy chest. The toy chest is where Isaac goes to escape the sinfulness of the world. Both his own and others. Its his place to retreat away from all the bad stuff in life. His mothers abuse, father’s absence, peers harassment. The box is his imaginary world. But escaping reality can be dangerous. In ending 10 we are introduced to “???” Known by fans as “Blue Baby” The crosses against his eyes are cartoonish signs of death. The blue color a stereotype of those who died for asphyxiation, suffocating to death. It also harkens back to a fear Isaac himself has in one of his loading cut-scenes, him struggling to BREATHE in the box. You’ll also notice in ending 12 when Isaac cycles through the other characters, Blue Baby isn’t present. Thats because the characters he flashes through are the ones he plays as in his fantasy world. Blue Baby isn’t just some other imaginary character or custome. Its REALLY a dead Isaac in the chest. A TRUTH he can’t come to terms with. This may be getting personal, but have you ever thought about death? Do you get a cold nauseous feeling that your mind and body can’t comprehend? The mind just projects the thought outright! Thats how I feel at least and clearly thats what Isaac feels as he confronts Blue Baby. Unlike his response to anything else in the game, his reaction has him LITERALLY spiraling, taken a back. Thats why also Blue Baby’s true name is “???” Isaac can’t comprehend the true nature of Blue Baby, of death. He is confronting his own dead body in that box. So is that where it all ends? Is there really no hope for Isaac’s survival? YEA actually, thats IT! At least in the first game. Isaac hides in the box, hides away in his imaginary world and the fact the game never really ends, continually re-spawning and recycling in new ways, just adds to the fact that he descends deeper and deeper into his own fabricated reality. But then last year, things changed of Isaac. In the updated game release the Devs introduced multiple new characters. But this time instead of being sinners, these guys related to the sub title “Rebirth”. Most noticeably theres Lazarus, who died and was resurrected by Jesus. But then theres Eden. Now you wouldn’t be alone if your first impulse is to think “Garden of” as in the perfect place God created for Adam and Eve before Eve’s original sin. Sooo hows that relate to rebirth? Well watch the cut scene as you unlock the character. Isaac falls into the chest it shuts, shakes, then stops, then a heavenly glow erupts from the box with Eden rising out. Now you can imagine where I’m going with this. As tragic as it is Isaac dies in the chest. He gets locked in, struggles, and dies. Only to be reborn as an angelic super natural Eden as evidence of the glowing eyes, ability to float and white hair. Even the different hair styles he cycles through provides more evidence, hes is being reborn in different shapes. Yesss hes still dead, but at the VERY least he has found new life in the sinless paradise of the Eden. But thats not all! If you manage to make it all the way to ending 15 and 16, theres a new outcome, one with a little more hope. To reach ending 15 Isaac must face the “The Lamb” A twisted demon with an inverted cross on its forehead. In Christianity The Lamb is usually the name given to Jesus Christ whose depiction is SLIGHTLY different than it is in this game. But think about from Isaac’s perspective. Hes created an imaginary world where God tells his mother to kill him. CLEARLY he doesn’t have the most positive outlook on these things. So it would make sense that he, as a character would envision Christ as an evil Demon. But then the game go es one step further. To reach the final boss, Isaac must kill Angels to receive pieces of the key. This unlocks the beautiful Golden Door to “MEGA SATAN!” If that isn’t a video game boss name, I don’t know what is! Defeat Mega Satan and thats it, t he cycle stops. Theres nothing else to do. Isaac’s fantasy world has reached its darkest limits. And THIS is reflected in the ending. Ending 16, the hardest to reach in the game, has Isaac in his chest, switching between his human self and his demon self. FINALLY ending on him as a Demon and he SMILESSS. Let me emphasize how important that moment is. This is a game in which Isaac is crying THE WHOLE TIME. Attacking enemies with his projectile tears and yet when he embraces being a Demon, he smiles. Whats this mean? Well quite simply he has come to terms with himself. He accepts that he is sinful. He moves beyond the religious guilt he has been brought up with. He no longer needs his imaginary world. And this ties in with ending 15. It features mother standing outside with a “Missing” poster for Isaac, hes run away. After coming to terms with who he is, both the good and the bad. Isaac finally has the strength to leave his box, His imaginary world and the abusive household hes been living in. No longer trapped by the guilt of sin, he finds his own path. As the title says Isaac has been REBORN! In “INDIE GAME” the movie. Which is large part about Edmund McMillen. He explains how every single game has been an expression of his personal life, especially his childhood. In an interview with Euro Gamer around the time “The Binding of Isaac” was released. McMillen explains that his family consisted of alcoholics and drug addicts who became born again Christians. Being confronted by this extreme level of faith caused him problems. Leading him to constantly feel guilty and develop a desire to fight back, acting out against it and look at him now, one of the Indie World’s most successful game creators. He fought to escape his box. Just like Isaac, he too found a way to escape BUT HEY That’s just a Theory! A GAME THEORY! Thanks for watching! Welcome back to the SUPER AMAZING END CARD TOURNAMENT! Last time 5 percent more of you

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  1. 2:03 theres actually a loading cut-scene shown after going down another room where it shows "The Lost" in the attic, talking to the mom, so techinally I don't think it was god talking to her, but then again, this is an AfterBirth loading cut-scene, which shows that the ghost "The Lost" Is Isaacs ghost telling the mom once again to kill the 'New' Isaac, and so it starts all over again.

  2. Not sure if this is true, but when I was on the Billy Joel channel (VERY old reference) they were gonna play The Stranger. The DJ (I think they are DJs, right?) said he read in a book the side we hide from everyone is actually our more creative side. Very interesting to me

  3. Oh man that retro game theory intro

    Edit: O H M Y G O D T H E S U P E R A M A Z I N G E N D C A R D T O U R N A M E N T

  4. Sometimes I think about death get scared and start crying because every second job could just die out of nowhere

  5. my thoughts on religion:

    not a fan of organized religion. for me, religion is how individuals make peace with the absolute mystery of reality and death and the meaning of life. if you share ideas with people, cool. but now it's become a game of "my ideas are correct and you're a horrible person for not agreeing with me." wars have been fought over this. I'm agnostic personally and I just. can't understand how people can use religion, something that I think should be a personal comfort, and use it to attack other people. religious writings were made by people who are very flawed and biased. just look at the history of how the Catholic Church influenced morals in many Western worlds even for non-religious people or concepts. and then when people talk about how their god is so wonderful and loving… but he'll damn you to hell and call you a sinner if you do any of these various, sometimes seemingly random things!!! again, I don't understand how it's comforting to be drowned in guilt and shame, or told to do horrible things such as kill your CHILD, makes any sense for a person striving for good morality. "I know I killed my child but it's okay, my god told me to." your god also says it's not okay to kill, and so do most people's general moral compasses. so how does that make sense? same goes for "I bullied someone relentlessly for their life, beliefs, and unchangeable personal aspects because I believe I know what is correct because I read what people wrote that my god said."

    anyway… I fluctuate between feeling like maybe there is some cosmic entity out there that just watches, or maybe there's nothing. religion should be what helps you sleep at night because the idea that the universe is endless and existence just stops when we did is terrifying and I can COMPLETELY understand why religions developed, especially in a world before we understood so many basic things about our world like weather and germs.

  6. I don't know if this was added afterwards but once after starting a new game after dying I started as a little ghost type character but you can't choose that character

  7. Just so y'all know: Abraham is visited by "The Angel of the Lord", but the "angel" is actually God. Even more, in Christian theology it's pre-incarnate Jesus. Also, Mary Magdalene was most likely not a prostitute, that's the tradition of thinking that her and another Mary (Luke 15 iirc) are the same.

  8. Hmmmm………….

    As a Christian, I feel speechless about this video. Can't comprehend what and why.

  9. Sees the warning
    Me: Okay then I won't go in the comments!
    Five minutes later…
    Me: OK TIME TO GO TO THE COMMENTS!

  10. As an Agnostic Muslim

    I just loved the story and how it is disturbing yet one of the best, I just wish there was more games like this.

  11. Azazel is the name of a jewish fallen angel, that why his skin and wings are black. Because fallen angels have black wings, but why does he have black skin?

  12. Just wanted to say it’s funny he thinks issaac ran away when what really happened was he died in the chest and his mother couldn’t find him and thus he went missing. He didn’t run away. He died.

  13. Wait lmao okay I'm late but I played through the game a few times and through a few challenges and I never got any cutscenes?? Do you only get them when doing something special or is my game just somehow broken? Lmao help

  14. gamers fantasize about being ultra-powerful so they can slap women around and feel less fearful and inferior around dark-skinned people

  15. 5:32
    It's all your fault eve

    YOU HAD ONE JOB AND THAT WAS NOT TO EAT THE FRUIT

    (If that wasn't obvious enough, yes, I'm Cristian)

  16. MATPAT: gibberish things
    me: okei
    my heart: probably shet
    MATPAT: 6th and 7th Grade (whewwww)
    me and my heart: OH THAT SHET TRUE

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