The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, a wildly popular video game among teens, has been blocked from Apple's App Store for containing objectionable content, such as promoting the killing one's own mother and violence towards children.
The video game, designed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl, is based on a distorted take on the Old Testament story in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his child, Isaac, to test his faith. Other Biblical characters, including Cain, Judas, Esau, Eve, Samson, Mary Magdalene, also make appearances throughout the game.
Reads a description of the game, "After his mother receives a message from God demanding the life of her son as proof of her faith, Isaac flees into the monster-filled basement of their home, where he must fight to survive. Players control Isaac or one of six other unlockable characters through a procedurally generated dungeon in a rogue-like manner, fashioned after those of The Legend of Zelda defeating monsters in real-time combat while collecting items and power-ups to defeat bosses and eventually Isaac's mom."
A report from Kotaku notes that earlier in February, Tyrone Rodriguez, founder of Nicalis that publishes Isaac, shared the news on Twitter along with an image containing Apple's rejection notice that reads: "Your app contains content or features that depict violence towards, or abuse of, children, which is not allowed on the App."
Kotaku also reported that Rodriguez had been tweeting teaser images of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth running on iPad and iPhone a couple of weeks prior to receiving Apple's rejection notice.
Neither Rodriguez nor McMillen has not revealed their plans moving forward, although McMillen has expressed his disappointment about the issue.
"It's very obvious that Apple doesn't think games are art or have any respect for the medium," McMillen told GamesBeat. "It's sad and very ignorant of them to stand by such a stupid and laughable statement. They basically just told every game developer out there that video games are kids toys with no artistic merit."
However, message boards for Isaac reveal that the game's content is far from innocuous: "I have been playing this game for a while and tonight I finally got to fight mom!" reads a message from one contributor. "Once I got to fight her, I used 'the bible' and beat her...after the credits I came to the start screen where it showed me 'Isaac' atop of mom with exed out eyes as if she had died."
In the past, McMillen has also claimed that "[N]othing in the game is really anti-Christian," but rather "a conversation about religion."
However, others reject such assertions, arguing that Isaac is a direct affront to Christians and a blatant skewering of religion.
"[The game] disgusted me with its gross humor and blatant anti-Christian themes," reads a review from the Christ Centered Gamer. "It's a shame that all of this creativity is misguided and pokes fun of the Bible and Christianity. Most, but not all, of the bosses are themed after the seven deadly sins (lust, gluttony, pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed)...The whole premise of Isaac taking revenge is nothing like the Bible's version of God foreshadowing His son's sacrifice for asking Abraham to sacrifice his son to God. Isaac was spared in the Bible version."
Breitbart notes that though Isaac was also originally rejected from the Nintendo 3DS store back in 2012, it was not for violence, instead being blocked for "questionable religious content," and the game is available on all other major digital distributors, including Steam, the Humble Bundle Store, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Xbox One.
Isaac had very high scores from game reviewers: GameRankings ranked it 90.20% for PC and 89.42% for PlayStation4; Metacritic scored it 88/100 for PC and 86/100 for PlayStation4 while Destructoid gave it 10/10.