It’s easy to see the little ways in which Magic: The Gathering influenced The Binding of Isaac. The game contains several references to the CCG, and some of Isaac’s techniques are directly inspired by cards. However, MTG may have helped shape Isaac on a deeper level.
While answering fan questions on his Tumblr, McMillen admitted that any similarities between Magic and Isaac are completely intentional.
“I learned a lot from Magic and used it a ton in Isaac,” he said.”[It’s] hard to explain how exactly it applies, [but] I do tend to design in a similar way.”
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth will include plenty of new content, and it’ll be interesting to see if any more Magic references make it into the mix. We’ve had plenty of fun with Magic at GeekParty in the past. I’d love to see a few Magic inspired monsters, and more card inspired abilities would be fantastic.
Mostly though, I’m excited to replay Isaac with the knowledge that MTG helped shape the game.