Juul’s third chapter of Half-Real goes into detail about rules of a game. He also mentions two subtypes, emergence and progression games. After his comparison of Pong and The Hobbit – I figured I would do the same with two more recent game systems. The two games are Binding of Isaac and Alan Wake.
Binding of Isaac is an independent video game. You control Isaac, a young boy, who is essentially being chased by his mentally disturbed mother. You fight her midway through, and then beat the game by destroying her heart on the last level. Throughout the game, there are treasure rooms. Each room holds an item that helps you progress further in the game, but some are better than others. If you don’t get a good combination of items, you can pretty much call it quits. This is especially true since every time you beat the game, it becomes more difficult. Binding of Isaac is an emergent game. The system leaves you with very simple rules. Kill monsters, get items if you can, and don’t die! The sheer lack of rules leaves the player in a pickle. Well, this game sure isn’t going to get easier, so how do you deal with it? Well, by creating strategies of course! With each item, a new strategy is born. That new item or combination of items that you got could prove a better way to survive. You’ll remember that next time you play. Once you get to a certain point in the game, hell, you can even quit before you get to Mom because you know the items you have aren’t sufficient to kill her. So you start over again and hope for better items. The variations are pretty much endless. With hundreds of items to find and combine to beat Mom, it’s quite an amazing game to say the least (and pretty angering at times).