Tips and tricks for surviving Isaac

#1 Edited by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

Okay, I just finished my 5th playthrough of the game so I decided to come up with a list of tricks that a lot of people probably wouldn't notice on their first time through that have really helped me along the way.
 
Also, it's worth noting that a full playthough from start to finish averages out to about an hour and the game really really really doesn't like it when you tab out of it  from it for some reason, so if you plan on beating the game you are going to have to plan on having time to do it in one shot. 
 
Edit: Apparently after you beat the game a sixth time to difficulty increases.
 
Fuck.
 
Blue Rocks - If you see a blue rock amongst a bunch of regular ones and have spare bombs you need to blow it up, it will ALWAYS have something inside it. Usually it is faith (the blue hearts) but I've also found keys, bombs, and silver chests in these rocks. It is almost always worth blowing them up.
 
Crossing gaps - You may have noticed from time to time that there is an item sitting across a hole in the floor. There are several ways to get to this. The easiest way is to create a pass by blowing a rock up with a bomb. If you place a bomb behind a rock it will blow over the hole in the opposite direction from where the bomb is placed and allow you to walk over. There is also an item from the store, it looks like a ladder but I don't remember the proper name, that allows you to cross a 1 square gap at any time.
 
If a hole is more than one square the only way to cross over it is either by finding the Demon Wings or the Hanged Man tarot card which will allow you to fly over the gap. You can also pull the item towards you, assuming it is not a chest, if you have the Magnet item.
 
Pills - Pill effects are randomized each time you play, that is to say that while the orange pill may have given you better tears last game, it may cause you to shit bombs the next time you play. While the effects are always random, once you discover a pills effect that pill will have the same effect for the duration of the playthrough.
 
Secondary Weapons - Secondary weapons recharge by clearing rooms, but not all secondary weapons recharge at the same rate. For instance the Tammy's Head will recharge every time you clear a room, but the Yum Heart requires six cleared rooms for a full recharge.
 
You can purchase a Battery from the store that will allow you to recharge items by doing damage, however recharging in this way does not differentiate between items. It will charge each one block at a time no matter what the item is, however this is in addition to the charge you get from clearing rooms so it is almost always a good buy.
 
Bombing Doors - If you need to escape a room or just don't want to clear it, regular doors can be forced open by bombing them. This applies to troll bombs and fly bombs as well.

Store Sales - If an item in the Store has its price in a red font, that means it is on sale. Items on sale are always reduced 50% with the price then rounded up to the nearest penny. If you find an upgrade on sale for $7, usually $15,  it is almost always recommended you buy it.
 
An upgrade called Steam Sale can be found or bought in the store that will permanently make every single item in every single store on sale. Buy this item.

Secret Rooms - Secret rooms are almost always in between three or more rooms, so if you have extra bombs it's worth trying out a square on the map if three rooms surround it. You've probably already noticed this too, but the secret room entrance is always located in the middle of the wall.
 
Even if you know where the room is by using a Compass, Spelunkey, or the x-ray glasses it is worth mapping out the rest of the dungeon before going into it. If the secret room connects to a shop, treasure room, or arena you will be able to enter them from the secret room without having to fufill the requirements, sparing you a key or allowing you to enter an arena without full health.
 
You can also try entering an arena, stealing the treasure, and then exiting through the secret room to avoid having to finish off the enemies that spawn.
 
Stores vs Treasure Rooms - If you only have one key and a surplus of money (25-30+ coins), I've found that it is usually worth going to the store rather than the treasure room if you already have a secondary weapon you really like. The store is usually guaranteed to have a passive upgrade where as the treasure room is more likely to have a secondary weapon. You may also be able to buy another key if nothing else so it's usually worth the trip.
 
Arcades - This is usually how I clear the aracade: I start off by blowing up the skull game because it is pretty much useless unless you really need hearts or keys. I'll then put all my coins, or however many I'm willing to spend, into the slot machine until I'm empty. If it spit out extra hearts that go over my max, I'll deposit hearts into the blood machine until I can get back to max and then blow it up. I then empty my new coins into the slot machine and then blow it up.
 
The idea here is to get the maximum amount of spins out of the slot machine because it is really the only one worthwhile if you have a surplus of keys and bombs, which is really you should have if you are wasting money in the arcade. The slot machine will often toss out pills or even better loot on rare occasion, so it is best to spend your money there if you want to really pump up your character.
 
Beggar Kid - If you see one of these you should always try to get at least the first item out of him, if you have a lot of coins you should give him money until he disappears. I've gotten everything from tarot cards, to HP upgrades, to secondary weapons out of him before he disappeared. These guys are a fucking life line, especially in The Womb, so you should always look out for them.
 

Taking on The Womb

 
The Womb is the set of levels unlocked after defeating Mom for the first time and it is much much harder than any other section of the game. There are no special rooms, hearts are very scarce, and rooms have regular monster replaced with bosses.
 
I once found a room with two Monstros and a fucking upgraded Chubs, this is some serious shit.
 
Once you defeat Mom you are locked in, you must advance into The Womb and you cannot go back to any previous rooms, therefore it is important to completely clear the floor before taking her one.
 
The most important thing to remember is that there are no shops, or at the very least they are extremely rare because I've yet to see one, so you should spend all, or at least most, of your money before taking on Mom. Slot machines and Beggars and pretty common in the Womb, but even so you may want to empty your pockets before proceeding.
 
There are also no treasure rooms in The Womb, there are chests from time to time but if there are any left on Depths II you may want to empty them out before proceeding.
 
If there is one item you want to save for The Womb it is bombs. Items, Slot Machines, and Beggars are almost never easily accessible, often requiring you to cross rocks, spikes, or unlock blocks to get to them. There is also no Blue Block equivalent in The Womb, although some blocks are still capable of producing rare items if you blow them up. There are however still secret rooms, although they are much rarer, so if you have an item like Spelunkey you should definitely consider saving them. 
 
If you can find a Full Health pill or an offensive tarot card like The Devil or Death you'll want to carry it on you into The Womb and save it for the final boss.
 
Beating the Last Boss - The last boss is basically a huge stationary target that descends from the middle of the screen, allowing you to damage it for a brief second before spawning two monsters. When you first enter the room there will be two eyes sitting on opposite ends of the room, takes these out first before focusing on the boss. Once they are down and you've done some damage it will then enter into its pattern of descending for a few seconds before spawning baddies and retreating up into the ceiling. Once you've got it down to about a quarter of its health it will stay down permantely and start throwing bombs everywhere in addition to spawning monsters. At this point you should be focusing fire on the boss exclusively unless the monsters become a real threat. It's worth noting that the bombs the boss throws damage enemies as well, so it's better to lead them into the explosions if you need to take them out quickly.
 
 I find that beating this boss is much easier than Mom if you know how to deal with the individual enemies, but if you aren't constantly on your toes it will punish you heavily for it.
 
That's all I could think of for now, feel free to add your own tips if I forgot anything.
#2 Edited by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

I'll add some:

The Devil Room - This is a room that appears after you defeat some bosses - I find it's best not to spend hearts on anything here, since health is ultra important in a game with permadeath. Most of the items you get there aren't particularly great. I've found myself only buying the shovel and laser eyes.

Faith - Personally, I try to avoid buying these, they tend to be a waste of money since they're gone forever once used up and heart refills aren't too hard to find. It's probably best to only buy these right before a boss where it's critical to have as much health as you can.

Crashing While Alt-Tabbing - It's usually safe to be alt-tabbed for about a minute before the game crashes, so if you want to go out of the game then come back you have about a minute to do so.

Poo and Fire - About ~5% of the time there will be items hidden in poo or fire, you can shoot them to see if they contain anything. It seems to usually be hearts or coins.

Controls - I find mouse and keyboard to work better than their default layout; this way you only need to press one button to shoot and not four. I can see how this might not suit a lot of people, but it's possible to control the game this way if you want.

Frame Rate Issues - Try turning the graphic quality to low if you're having problems with the frame rate (chances you are). Even on low, it's not perfect, but it's definitely better.

#3 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

Pro Tip: Apparently the health bar goes past what looks like the max.
 
So you can have as much health as you can find.

#4 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

Oh, reminds me:

Arena Doors - The arena doors only open when you have either full health or at least 6 red hearts and have defeated all the enemies in the room.

#5 Posted by StarvingGamer (7907 posts) -

I will likely never play this game but I enjoyed reading this :D

#6 Posted by Deathpooky (1367 posts) -

My favorite:

The Bible is an instakill on both of the Mom bosses, appropriately enough.

#7 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

Pro Tip: You have to beat the game 9 times to unlock the real final boss.
 
You have to beat the game 10 times to unlock the fifth secret character.

#8 Posted by yoshimitz707 (2450 posts) -

Thanks for the tips. Some useful info in here.

#9 Posted by ADAMWD (561 posts) -

Does anyone know how to unlock Judas?

#10 Posted by thebunnyhunter (1347 posts) -

Thanks for the tips, still havent beaten mom yet and i think these tips will be of some help.

#11 Posted by Rockanomics (1150 posts) -

Well I just found out that selling your only two hearts to the devil when your Cain will totally kill you, even if you have shield hearts, fun fact.

#12 Edited by EToaster (128 posts) -

If you want to kill Mom's Heart easily, just run up to it and set a bomb. It'll explode, do a ton of damage to her, probably kill the enemies she just spawned, and then you can run up and set another one just in time to kill the next wave of enemies.

Edit: Also, never buy the stupid cat. It gives you 9 lives, but takes you down to 1 heart no matter how many you have. Even if you pick up some extra health items after getting it, they'll be gone when you respawn.

#13 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
@ADAMWD: If i'm correct, you have to beat The Womb.
#14 Posted by Djstyles92 (952 posts) -

This game is hella hard. Even if you have good powers

#15 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

Framerate - If you're still having frame rate issues, set the resolution lower as well as lower the quality, I'm having no issues at 640 x 480. I know it seems obvious, but it's counter-intuitive that a game like this would have such egregious frame rate issues.

Secret Rooms - I'm starting to get the feeling that the secret room will always be in a space with the equal highest amount of adjoining rooms.

#16 Edited by Bocam (3667 posts) -

@BeachThunder Never mind figured it out

#17 Posted by ADAMWD (561 posts) -

Man, I just died near completion of The Womb II. I was playing with Maggie and had almost all of my stats maxed out, had gotten the Skeleton Key, and had the Bible on hand to easily defeat the final boss. Instead of trying to clear out every room, I should have just made a beeline for the boss room.

#18 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

More tips:

Grinding - If you have the vampire bat, you can grind for hearts on the enemies that collapse into mush and then respawn.

Brain Zombies - the enemies with their brains exposed can also be shot from the side, so you don't, in fact, just have to get up behind them.

Slot Machines - I have to admit I'm always weary of slot machines, but it's silly to avoid them in the game. If you have a bunch of coins you may as well feed them into the machine, it seems like a 50% chance that you'll get something. Also, sometimes it gives out huge payouts (I've gotten ~15 cents from it).

Also, a wild patch appears:

  • -Fixed wall clipping bug
  • -Upgraded game save so it wont be deleted by clean up tools
  • -Added options to the start screen
  • -Added control options within the options menu
  • -Added lefty support
  • -Added azerty keyboard options
  • -Fixed minor music issues
  • -Added more alt bosses.
#19 Posted by ADAMWD (561 posts) -

I don't know if anyone else has gotten this, but in one of my recent playthroughs, I got a dollar bill from a slot machine, which gave me 99 coins.

#20 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

@ADAMWD said:

I don't know if anyone else has gotten this, but in one of my recent playthroughs, I got a dollar bill from a slot machine, which gave me 99 coins.

Yep, got that once - it was glorious :D I think I found mine in a chest though.

#21 Posted by TheGanjaKing (61 posts) -

I love this game. Though I'm still unclear about how to spot secret rooms... can anybody elaborate? It would be much appreciated. Also, I was wondering how everyone felt about clearing an entire dungeon level before moving on to the boss, or do y'all try to take on the boss when you've got good health?

#22 Posted by Aronman789 (2676 posts) -

Is it me or are Peeps's eyes invincible? Because that's just shitty.

#23 Posted by EToaster (128 posts) -

@SeeSaw: All you can really do if you don't have an item that reveals them is to complete the map, and then look for empty spots that are surrounded by 3 or 4 rooms. Go to one of the surrounding rooms, and bomb that wall in the center. One of those spots will be the secret. There's 1 secret per floor, and you can get in from any direction.

#24 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1726 posts) -

Pro Tip: Don't clear your cache using Chrome. You'll wipe your save game, even though that problem was supposed to have been fixed. Don't know about other browsers. You're fine if you use something like CCleaner though.

#25 Edited by Truitt (91 posts) -

Man, did I get luck on my last two runs. I managed to beat the short game and the long game back-to-back. I thought my first run was impressive, with Vampirism and Maggie's start item keeping me at constant full health along with three "balls of steel" pills and a dollar that ended up not even being used.

But then I started my next game with Cain to instantly get penetrating shot with max damage and range without even trying. Let's add a 1-up to that, even though I almost beat the new end-boss without dying. On my second try, I basically just stood in place and shot straight ahead.

Then I looked at the achievements. Holy hell.

God, I didn't even mention in my second run through that I got a skeleton key, then got "keys are bombs" for 99 bombs, and another dollar. I had a surplus of everything.

#26 Posted by Spence_5060 (319 posts) -

thanks for all this a lot of it was actually very helpful. If you have not already done this you should probably submit this into a strategy guide for the game on the site.

#27 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

;__; I just can't finish the Womb. It's such a huge spike in difficulty. I'm always doing fine up until the womb and even with a great build I still get my ass kicked :(

#28 Edited by EToaster (128 posts) -

@BeachThunder: If you can tell where it is, just make a beeline for the boss room. The only other special room in The Womb is the secret room, and there's very little of value equivalent to the health you'll lose trying to kill all the monsters.

#29 Posted by bybeach (4701 posts) -

I suck at these games and I want to play it sooo bad.

#30 Posted by ADAMWD (561 posts) -

If you ever get the chance to buy the upside down cross from The Devil, do it. Getting that item made it a breeze fighting any non-boss enemy.

#31 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -
@ADAMWD said:

If you ever get the chance to buy the upside down cross from The Devil, do it. Getting that item made it a breeze fighting any non-boss enemy.

Also, I would recommend getting the shovel, even if you have to sell your soul for it. Getting it means you can easily skip the Mom battle.
#32 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -
@BeachThunder said:
@ADAMWD said:

If you ever get the chance to buy the upside down cross from The Devil, do it. Getting that item made it a breeze fighting any non-boss enemy.

Also, I would recommend getting the shovel, even if you have to sell your soul for it. Getting it means you can easily skip the Mom battle.
I don't think getting the shovel is ever a good idea simply because by skipping the boss you are also skipping upgrades, anything that leaves you weaker for the final boss is usually a bad idea.
#33 Posted by Kurtdyoung (1297 posts) -

One thing I found really useful, since I think they are the most common boss..

Larry Jr. - Both worms can be killed with one well placed bomb.

might be common knowledge but it helps get through that battle much faster. also

Chocolate Milk - Is really up to you if you think it's useful or not. It allows you to have charged shots, but I always hold down the arrow keys to always be shooting. With this, you need to tap the button each time for each shot, but the charged shots do do extra damage.

The Moon Tarrot Card - Will always take you to the hidden room on that map.

#34 Posted by SMTDante89 (2541 posts) -

If you have the Teleport secondary power, sometimes it will take you to a special room with a guy that says "I Am Error" which usually has a few things you can use.

#35 Posted by HotSauceMagik (264 posts) -

I typically pass on chocolate milk. Even if you charge up a shot fully, I still think you can do more damage with a constant stream. Especially if you miss the charged shot. Also tapping the button takes way more mental processing power than just holding it down.

#36 Posted by VonSohn (27 posts) -

@HotSauceMagik: I don't know if it's so bad that you should pass on it. It definitely has its uses. For example, if you're playing carefully, it's useful when fighting the skull turrets. You can take them out with one charged shot when they pop up, and easily avoid taking any damage.

Also, I've noticed that while you hold down the attack button to charge, any "allies" you have (I won't say more, so as no to spoil) will maintain their usual stream of bullets. It's not the best upgrade or anything, but charged shots fuck up the early bosses.

General tips.

LordXavierBritish covered most everything. Good post!

Limit your intake of speed boost items: After a certain point, I find that speed isn't an advantage. You want to be able to outrun everything without sacrificing precision. Memorise which items boost speed (belt, the syringes, mini mushroom, wooden spoon), and be wary of the speed boost pills.

Run through The Womb: This has been mentioned, but this is easily the best advice I was given. There are no treasure rooms or shops, only arcades and challenge rooms (which features bosses as each wave and doesn't always reward you adequately). Hope for a treasure map and/or a compass, and book it.

Cain's Lucky Foot: This is mostly speculation based on anecdotal evidence, but I've found that Cain is more likely to win at slots and the beggar's cup game. Others have said that it causes better items to be spawned, and that treasure chests, pills and secret rooms are more rewarding, etc, etc. Just use him.

Backtrack: This might be obvious, but before you go to the next level, you can go pick up any unused tarot cards or hearts. I save good cards for boss fights, and take them with me for the next level. Oh, and you can't do this from The Depths 2 without the use of an item (teleport, The Fool, The Moon).

Accrue a following: By this, I mostly mean flies. They block damage, and with three (the max) you are virtually immune to ranged attacks. They also damage nearby enemies, if you accidentally graze them. Cube of Meat works in a similar fashion. They are an uncommon reward from slots and pills, as well as being special items.

Always buy The Bible: Always buy The Bible.

My stats because why not, right?

#37 Posted by HotSauceMagik (264 posts) -

@Kashkin said:

Also, I've noticed that while you hold down the attack button to charge, any "allies" you have (I won't say more, so as no to spoil) will maintain their usual stream of bullets. It's not the best upgrade or anything, but charged shots fuck up the early bosses.

Ya know, I didn't think of that. May have to change it up now. Good call.

#38 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7240 posts) -

I feel like a cheater using the purple rock and the normal rock to get to out of reach items. How did you guys figure them out? I feel like not using them because I found out about them in this thread. :(

#39 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7240 posts) -
@NekuSakuraba
I feel like a cheater using the purple rock and the normal rock to get to out of reach items. How did you guys figure them out? I feel like not using them because I found out about them in this thread. :(
Blue rocks, not purple. :P
#40 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

@Kashkin said:

Limit your intake of speed boost items: After a certain point, I find that speed isn't an advantage. You want to be able to outrun everything without sacrificing precision. Memorise which items boost speed (belt, the syringes, mini mushroom, wooden spoon), and be wary of the speed boost pills.

This is a good tip; don't necessarily assume that a power up is always going to be helpful :o

Sigh, also, I'm going to try to beat this game some more. Damn you people with 10 endings :P

#41 Edited by Marmalade (192 posts) -

@Rockanomics: Well I just found out that selling your only two hearts to the devil when your Cain will totally kill you, even if you have shield hearts, fun fact.

I totally did this as Judas. I gave up my single heart and got a dead cat (9 lives) to see if it would kill me. It did, but the cat respawned me with my single heart, so I rushed back in and traded this new heart for one of those companion things. Again, I died but the cat respawned me and I got some nice devil items pretty much for free! :D

#42 Edited by NekuSakuraba (7240 posts) -

Man, I'm gonna need this thread. Any tips on defeating Mom the first time?

#43 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -
  • Don't pick up faith that's just lying around until you really need it (ie. boss fights, arenas).
  • It's usually best to avoid arenas if they just contain an ordinary chest, chances are it's just more trouble than it's worth.
  • If you see a special item that you want in a shop and can pay for it then don't hesitate to pick it up. Special items in shops can disappear if you leave and then return again.
  • "Bombs are key" seem to reverse if you get more than one. ie. if you pick up one then all your bombs turn to keys, if you pick up another then all your keys turn to bombs.
  • Rescuing children from devil rooms can be a good idea, having extra characters following you around can really help.
#44 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7240 posts) -

@BeachThunder said:

  • Don't pick up faith that's just lying around until you really need it (ie. boss fights, arenas).
  • It's usually best to avoid arenas if they just contain an ordinary chest, chances are it's just more trouble than it's worth.
  • If you see a special item that you want in a shop and can pay for it then don't hesitate to pick it up. Special items in shops can disappear if you leave and then return again.
  • "Bombs are key" seem to reverse if you get more than one. ie. if you pick up one then all your bombs turn to keys, if you pick up another then all your keys turn to bombs.
  • Rescuing children from devil rooms can be a good idea, having extra characters following you around can really help.

Rescuing children from devil rooms? do you mean buying them with hearts or...

#45 Posted by BeachThunder (11637 posts) -

@NekuSakuraba said:

@BeachThunder said:

  • Don't pick up faith that's just lying around until you really need it (ie. boss fights, arenas).
  • It's usually best to avoid arenas if they just contain an ordinary chest, chances are it's just more trouble than it's worth.
  • If you see a special item that you want in a shop and can pay for it then don't hesitate to pick it up. Special items in shops can disappear if you leave and then return again.
  • "Bombs are key" seem to reverse if you get more than one. ie. if you pick up one then all your bombs turn to keys, if you pick up another then all your keys turn to bombs.
  • Rescuing children from devil rooms can be a good idea, having extra characters following you around can really help.

Rescuing children from devil rooms? do you mean buying them with hearts or...

Yeah...buying them with hearts.

#46 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7240 posts) -

Any tips on beating the game with Judas?

#47 Posted by ThePainTrain (8 posts) -

@LordXavierBritish: Hey what up, new to this site. So i had this game for a while and i would like to add to it. Soon as i saw the upgrade i got it. ill try to not ruin it but im sure most know what im getting at.

So no order because my brain is fried from playing today for hours. I died from fighting stain himself. Sorry if you didn't know but Yeah hes difficult as fuck!! not spoiler he can be hard to see.

Allways think differently using everything you got; EX by getting ipicat you can find secrets rooms by exploding anything because its unlimited, but upgrades to it wont work. Say you got speed upgrade that dosen't work so far ive seen because its very slow and difficult to use. plus hurts your self too.

Not being on the ground or levitating is very usfull because litterally anyone who walks on land which is most enamies walk on land. So fly on holes and rocks because most can't hurt you by the space. Bullets can't go through it.

Those skellitons or zombie ones that can't be killed by the front can also be hurt by the sides of their heads. Make them follow you and quickly hit them from the side but be carefull because sometimes they trace you.

Allways take the devil's trade. usually there good like the one where it actually makes you black and shoot a red beam. its a charge shot so be very carful! i died because it was to slow to handle but the fact that i can shoot anyone from the oppisite side of the map is handy.

The stores are handy to abuse like low on cash? blow up the heart machine. Youll usually get some coins then use it on the slots. If you come across the crystle slots. Use every cent and make it blow up because not only youll get cryslte ball but you can get the moon card. Which can lead you to secret rooms on the level and Satins level )OoO(

I don't know enough of this game to get it. likie what is up with the doors with spikes for an enterence or the room with one spike panel that ramdomly gives you a gift if you walk over it.

I want to kill stain and find the angel. idk how but can someone tell me if they know soon? spank you

#48 Edited by HerbieBug (4193 posts) -

Spacebar skips the intro movie.  D:
 
I just downloaded this.  Geez 1/2 Team Meat, maybe let a mouse click or the esc key do that too??? Eh?  I had to google how to skip your intro!  D:!
 
But aside from that, I can't believe I waited so long to get around to this.  I love it!  Can't wait to see what the Meat guys put out next. 

#49 Posted by YoungFrey (1321 posts) -

Your shots' are affected by your movement. So they go farther if shot in the direction you are moving. This is most useful if you are shooting an enemy you don't want to get close to. Also you can use it to angle shots past barriers to some degree.

#50 Posted by HerbieBug (4193 posts) -

The DLC makes the game more difficult. Keep this in mind when you make your purchase. You might not want to get the game and DLC at the same time. :/

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