If you’ve just clawed your way out of your mother’s basement, then you might be looking for more games like The Binding Of Isaac.
Yes, the premise of Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl’s seminal roguelike is bleak. Many of us have experienced disagreements with our parents, but most of those ideological differences don’t result in us jumping into a cellar full of monsters.
One thing we definitely can agree on with our parents though is that The Binding of Isaac is a fantastic roguelike.
The appeal of a game like The Binding of Isaac, for me anyway, is the sense of growing stronger over time. The first run in a new roguelike often shines a light on the challenges you will face and the obstacles you can’t dream of overcoming in the moment.
Slowly though, we grow to become stronger. More confident in our approaches. More powerful in our attacks and more deadly to our foes.
Our list of 10 games like The Binding of Isaac below bestows us with these feelings. It’s time to brace yourself, grit your teeth, and dive into some fantastic, tough and rewarding games.
Table of Contents
1. Vampire Survivors (2022)
I recently waxed lyrical about why Vampire Survivors is one of the best vampire games of all time but it also shares plenty of DNA with The Binding Of Isaac.
Both games have procedurally generated environments for players to battle through but attacks in Vampire Survivors aren’t initiated by those holding the controller.
Every ability, special move or magical onslaught from the player character arrives from an automated attack pattern. Players can find more abilities and weapons to add to their arsenal as they fend off wave after wave of ghosts and ghouls (and vampires) that are looking to make you their next meal.
Vampire Survivors also features permadeath in the same way that Isaac does during his escape. Take too much damage and your character will crumple to the floor, the current run will end and players must start again from scratch in a newly generated arena.
2. Moonlighter (2018)
You’re on an epic quest to save the world/rescue a royal/avenge a loved one. After toiling and labouring through untold nightmarish horrors and overcoming numerous obstacles, your inventory of supplies and healing potions is depleted.
You find yourself in a quaint town and discover a tidily shop peddling supplies. You dash in, stock up on remedies and antidotes before dashing back outside to continue your grand adventure.
Do you ever spare a thought for the shopkeeper that might have sold you the items that will get you out of a future pinch?
Probably not, but that’s where Moonlighter comes in!
This action RPG from Spanish indie studio Digital Sun plonks players behind the counter of their own item shop. During the day you’ll have to manage stock, evaluate item prices and generally be hospitable to every grumbling passerby that has no intention of actually buying anything!
You’ll soon learn to sympathise with Arkwright from Open All Hours!
Come nightfall however, the humble shopkeeper must explore dangerous dungeons in the search for new inventory and the resources required to improve their budding shop.
The simplistic aesthetic and top down perspective are reminiscent of The Binding of Isaac and the dungeon crawling follows the same principles of the basement-escape-simulator.
3. Returnal (2021)
While The Binding of Isaac is a strictly 2D affair, Returnal takes the roguelike, branching narrative and arcadey shoot ’em up mechanics into the third dimension and into space.
Space pilot Selene crash lands on a mysterious alien planet in the middle of a time loop. Her ship seemingly destroyed and with her communications disabled, Selene sets about exploring her new environment before discovering all is not what it seems.
Returnal’s combat is both brilliant and beautiful and successfully translates bullet-hell shooters into its third person action adventure.
In the same way that The Binding Of Isaac resets upon death, Returnal… uh, returns players to the beginning of their run when their vital signs cease.
Through persistence and repetition, players will grow to overcome the threats they encounter and eventually secure that winning run.
If taking on an ever-changing alien world alone sounds too daunting, the Ascension update allows players to experience this stunning roguelike with a friend in co-op.
4. God Of War Ragnarök: Valhalla (2023)
The second entry from a PlayStation Studio on our list of games like The Binding Of Isaac is also the most recent.
God Of War Ragnarök: Valhalla is a free DLC expansion for 2022’s epic adventure that brilliantly weaves the ongoing saga of Kratos into a new roguelike adventure.
Adopting the staples of the genre and making them work within the framework of a narrative-driven action game is no easy feat however Valhalla delivers where many have fallen.
Upon starting the expansion, players are welcomed to Valhalla and soon discover that death is not the end. Players will explore branching paths through sanctuaries and combat arenas based on Kratos’ memories, with each run developing differently based on the loadout gamers curate.
Sony Santa Monica have already transitioned Kratos from a bloodthirsty murderer to a nuanced and tortured protagonist, proving that the God of War is resilient to change.
Now God Of War Ragnarök: Valhalla gives the Ghost of Sparta yet another evolution, one that introduces endless replay value and confidently secures its place in the pantheon of great roguelike games like The Binding Of Isaac.
5. Dead Cells (2018)
The wonderful Girlfriend Reviews once described a fully powered up character in Dead Cells as exhibiting “diarrhea Christmas lights” and that statement circles through my head each and every time I start a run of this incredible roguelike.
For you see, throughout Dead Cells players can earn mutations to evolve and develop their character, making subsequent runs an experimental gauntlet of flashing lights and particle effects that often fill the screen with their vibrancy. “Diarrhea Christmas lights” indeed.
It’s not all flashy visual effects, however, as Dead Cells as the core of the gameplay will see players fighting through procedurally generated dungeons to overcome the monstrosities that live within.
Players adopt the role of an unnamed prisoner who must attempt to escape the dank and grotty chamber they awaken in.
Not for the faint of heart, Dead Cells is a challenging game that will test coordination as much as your loadout. Thankfully the moment to moment gameplay is moreish and will keep players engaged for hundreds, if not thousands of escape attempts.
6. Enter The Gungeon (2016)
Look at that happy little box art. What a cute and smiley game this must be…
Looks can be deceiving and the physical release of Enter the Gungeon may have fooled people into believing this game was going to be full of cute critters.
Instead, Dodge Roll’s 2016 romp is a bullet hell roguelike that combines the dungeon crawling of The Binding of Isaac with extreme firepower.
Somebody protect Keith Richards as these aren’t your conventional weapons. Enter the Gungeon’s arsenal includes everything from your run-of-the-mill pistols and shotguns to insane death dealers like a gun that fires tornadoes! Keith will never see that one coming!
Enter the Gungeon adapts the tried and tested Isaac formula by introducing several characters to meet and interact with.
Players looking for a roguelike with a little more bang for their buck won’t do much better than this 2016 blast-a-thon.
7. Rogue Legacy 2 (2020)
The original Rogue Legacy proposed a question that challenged the very essence of the roguelike genre. What if you didn’t resurrect when you died?
For one thing, most roguelikes would be very, very short, especially the way I play them. We’ve all died on a tutorial level before right?
Instead of encouraging perfect, one-life runs, the developers behind Rogue Legacy and its sequel instead made subsequent attempts playable by your not-deceased descendants.
Each knightly descendant can tackle the procedurally generated dungeons with their own personal traits and quirks. Every character still high kicks their way around the arenas but new classes spice up each run.
Knights with traits such as colourblindness will see their run exclusively in black and white, while adventurers afflicted with vampirism will gain buffs and nerfs related to health.
Rogue Legacy 2 improves on its predecessor in every way and offers a fun and gorgeous roguelike for people that may find Isaacs adventure a but too harrowing.
8. The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019)
This remake of the 1993 Game Boy game brought Link’s island excursion to a whole new generation of players.
The main game itself doesn’t align with The Binding of Isaac or other roguelikes, but there’s a new addition in 2019’s Link’s Awakening that does.
The original game’s Camera Shop was replaced by Dampé’s Shack in the remake. Dampé’s humble abode allowed players to forge their own Chamber Dungeons using Chamber Stones you’ve collected.
Players looking for a good ol’ Zelda dungeon crawling experience now have access to unlimited chambers to explore and raid.
Additional challenges such as a time attack mode can spice things up further with frantic dashes to complete each dungeon introducing a new level of complexity.
An unofficial HD remake of the original game has just been given the kibosh from Nintendo, so we recommend players looking for more adventures on Koholit Island stop by Dampé’s Shack instead.
9. Crypt Of The NecroDancer (2015)
Did you ever feel like The Binding of Isaac was missing something? It has compelling gameplay loops, simple yet fascinating traversal and bags of weapons. What else could a gamer want?
That’s right! DISCO!!
Crypt of the NecroDancer takes everything that works from Isaacs basement brawling and remixes it with funky beats and toe-tapping rhythms.
Players must find their groove and bop their way through this monster infested crypt by moving and performing actions in time with the music.
We often think about finding our flow in games. That state of mind where we can almost see the code and our actions align beautifully with what’s happening on screen.
Crypt of the NecroDancer is the epitome of flow in gaming and when you achieve it the experience is phenomenal.
Other roguelikes may have deeper stories, fancier graphics or more ferocious enemies but Crypt of the NecroDancers’ unique take on the genre is something to be seen, and heard, to be believed.
10. Hades (2020)
The final title in our list of games like The Binding of Isaac is one of my all time favourites. Hades tells the tale of Zagreus, the son of the God of the Dead as he attempts to free himself from the Underworld and the gaze of his overbearing father.
Hades features a gameplay loop similar to The Binding of Isaac with players exploring dungeons, gathering resources and making incremental improvements and progress with each run.
Failure never feels like the crushing set back it can be in other roguelikes, as dying will result in resurrection within the Underworld and a chance to mingle with Hades incredible cast of characters.
Helping you along you path to freedom are the Gods of Olympus, who all offer their services Zagreus in the form of powerful boons that grant new abilities and powerful buffs.
Combining boons effectively will turn Zagreus into an unstoppable force, whose attacks are as sharp as his wit and whose dexterity is as formidable as his attitude.
Hades is a masterpiece of game design with hundreds of hours of content to enjoy that never feels bloated or damning.
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Theo first fell in love with gaming when he sped through Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog back in 1991. Theo has previously provided reviews, news coverage and articles for The Games Cabin and enjoyed producing comedic Let’s Plays on his own personal YouTube channels.
A huge Kingdom Hearts and Metal Gear fan, Theo enjoys deep gameplay mechanics and complex storylines. A completionist by nature, Theo has earned over 140 platinum trophies including top digital trinkets for Stardew Valley, The Witness, Bloodborne and a plethora of GTA games.
Outside of gaming, Theo can often be found riding his motorbike, headbanging at gigs or out in the countryside exploring nature and marvelling at the ‘realistic graphics’.