The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls Announced

Edmund McMillen is making an Isaac card game because he wants to, and it sounds awesome.

The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls isn’t just some licensed card game spin-off, it’s not a trend-following Hearthstone clone, and it has nothing to do with The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords, despite the awesome logo.

Instead, Four Souls is a Binding of Isaac physical card game lovingly made by Edmund McMillen, the creator of Isaac and Super Meat Boy, because he wanted to make a Binding of Isaac card game. Newly launched on Kickstarter, it’s seeking $50k to finish up that production.

Here’s a quick breakdown from the Kickstarter trailer:

Exit Theatre Mode

Though not quite the voice from above as explained in that video, McMillen tells me he was initially approached by a company called Studio71 who wanted to license Binding of Isaac for a card game that they would make for him. McMillen said no outright.

If I ever did something like that it would have to be something that I made

“If I ever did something like that it would have to be something that I made,” McMillen told them. “I would have to be into the design and I’d want full control over it.” Basically, he didn’t want to just slap the Isaac name on someone else’s work and call it a card game.

So a year later when McMillen was sick at home, he got the idea for a card game he could get behind and furiously prototyped it in a week. He spent a few months playtesting and refining his idea, got back in touch with Studio71 to handle the production side of things, and has now launched a Kickstarter to finish the job.

So how does it actually play? Watch the video below for a bite-sized explanation of the rules:

Exit Theatre Mode

Here’s the fast version: Players take turns collecting items and fighting monsters, racing to be the first to gather four souls by killing four bosses. There are three 100 card decks – treasure, monster, and loot – that you shuffle and work through during a game, and each player has their own slightly unique character.

To start, you flip over two treasure cards that represent the shop and two monster cards that represent enemies in your room. You then choose whether you want to buy on item or fight a monster, which has a player rolling against that monster over and over until one of them dies.

Players and monsters both have an attack and health value, and monsters also have a dice value. If you roll at or above that number, you deal your attack to its health, but if you roll below that number, then it deals its attack to you. Crucially, unlike the video game, death doesn’t mean you’re out of the game entirely.

As the game goes on, you can barter, trade, and buy items to get stronger and eventually take on the bosses. Because the decks are shuffled up each time, the item effects you get and the monsters you face will be different each time, much like the video game it’s based on.

Here is a slideshow full of cards from the game:

To McMillen, capturing the spirit of The Binding of Isaac video game in card game form was key. That means weird items combos that change how you play, randomization and replayability, managing money to buy better items, and notorious enemies and items that have taken on their own reputation.

To McMillen, capturing the spirit of The Binding of Isaac video game in card game form was key.

Similarly, the three deck format opens Four Souls up to plenty of easy expansion potential (The Binding of Isaac video game already gets updates literally called ‘Boosters’), so anything that hasn’t made it into the main game could conceivably arrive in the future in McMillen decides to go that way.

And while the core of the game is done, McMillen is serious about building Four Souls for and with the community. As people request certain items or take guesses at what they could do during the Kickstarter, he’ll be paying attention and could make adjustments accordingly.

With art made by Isaac fan artists, game design made by the original creator, and plenty of Isaac swag for the community that supports it, Four Souls is one of the more exciting video-to-card game spinoffs I’ve seen hit Kickstarter. McMillen’s unwillingness to compromise is admirable, and I look forward to trying this newest entry out myself.

You can find The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls on Kickstarter here. And, of course, this hasn’t stopped McMillen from also working on his next digital game, The Legend of Bum-bo: a puzzle game set as a prequel to Isaac.

Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.

SOURCE: IGN.com

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