The Binding of Isaac – 3 tips for beginners

by MaddOx
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The Binding of Isaac was never a game I really paid much attention to. I knew of its existence, but it never struck me as a game that I wanted to play. Until I began watching our very own Stubat who streams it regularly over on his Twitch channel (click HERE to give him a follow).

There was something so enjoyable about watching him fail repeatedly and using the channel points I was earning whilst watching his streams to make his life more of a living hell. But in truth, he wasn’t that bad and watching how much he enjoyed the game no matter how frustrating it seemed, began to intrigue.

Soon enough, I decided to purchase a copy of The Binding of Isaac and all the DLC myself to check what all the fuss was about.


The Binding of Isaac is now easily one of my favourite games and I try at least to get one run in a day. I’ve sunk well over 120+ hours into it in the last couple of months and managed to rack up around 150 of the 600+ achievements the game has to unlock. Nothing compared to our in-house expert Stubat, but I am happy with the progress I’ve made.

And to help out other newbies like me, I decided to put some The Binding of Isaac tips together that I wish I’d known, or that I found really helpful when needing help. So, if that’s you, get a pen and paper ready, or just make sure you have the snipping tool out and a blank word document, because you’re going to want to note these down.

Knowing your items

Ok, so one reason The Binding of Isaac has so many achievements, is because there are so many things to unlock. A few characters and such, but the majority are for the over 500 items you can unlock. Now, I think we can all agree that having to remember 500 items is a pain in the backside unless you have a photographic memory.

The issue is, there is nothing in the game to tell you what your items do as you’re playing through. But there are two options to help. You can either have a browser open with a site called platinumgod that has all the items you’ll find in the game and clicking on them gives you some real in-depth information on what they do, how to unlock them and so on.

The other option is to download a mod called External Item Descriptions for The Binding of Isaac, which as you walk around the map, will flag up if you come near to items, giving you a description of what they do. I much prefer this to platinumgod because it is all there for you in the game, no need to flick back to a browser. It’s also great as it remembers pills you’ve taken and their effects so you can avoid taking the bad ones if you pick them up.

The Binding of Isaac External Item Description

The Bible can be your best friend, or your worst enemy

One item in The Binding of Isaac is The Bible. An item that through the game offers you the power of flight to reach items that would normally be out of reach. It takes four charges to charge up, so be careful using it on certain floors, because it will also kill Mom’s Foot and Mom’s Heart/It Lives instantly when used.

This allows you to wipe out two of the main bosses with the utmost ease, and add one of those heart stamps on the polaroids you get for each character to show your progress. It really is a time-saver, especially if you’re rushing through to try and make either the Boss Rush or Hush levels within the game.

However! There is a downside to using the bible. If you unlock and take the door down to the dark depths, you’ll come across the Satan boss. And if you use the bible on Satan, the Bible will kill you instead. Ended your run in a pretty rubbish way, because you did it to yourself. So if you keep The Bible because you like its flight capability or you just haven’t found a replacement, make sure you use it if charged in the room before Satan to avoid an awkward accident.

Don’t restart in the early game

You may get frustrated by not getting good items on your playthrough. It’s randomised every time so you never know how things will pan out. But when you’re a newbie to The Binding of Isaac, I’d say just soldier on and don’t give up. Don’t quit and start again or hit the restart button, because you get a lot of good learning experiences, and get to grips with the game.

I ended up on a 52 game losing streak when I first started, but each time I would learn from my mistakes. I’d learn more about the items, and how they work together better with some items more than others (this is called synergy which we’ll cover in a future article). I’d learn more about how enemies act and attack. I’d learn more about the different characters you could play as.

The Binding of Isaac killing mom

There is so much to learn, and it really does help you develop your skills in the game. But you won’t get that if you restart every five seconds because something isn’t going your way. I’ve had some terrible runs that actually turn out great too thanks to a change in luck.

If after you become more accustomed to the game and you’re focusing on certain goals such as making Boss Rush and you know you won’t make it, then I’d say restarting is fair enough. But just because you aren’t going to achieve the goal you set yourself, check before you do restart if there is another path you can take to add an alternative stamp to your polaroid than the one you wanted. At least that way a good run won’t be wasted.

And there you have it, three of the top tips that I was either told, or wish I’d been told about when first picking up The Binding of Isaac. As I’ve said, I’ve put a fair bit of time into the game, and still, I’ve barely scratched the surface. This means plenty of more The Binding of Isaac articles to come in time.

Until I write those though, you’ll have to make do with this and watch Stubat streaming The Binding of Isaac during the week, amongst many other games too. It’d be much appreciated if you could go give him a follow and/or a sub over on Twitch as well, as I’m sure he’d love to see new and old faces alike popping along to say hello.

The Binding of Isaac is developed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl and was initially released in 2011. It is available today on a number of platforms, including PC, and has several expansions available.

If you enjoyed this little guide, then you can check out more like this by clicking HERE.

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