There is a temple. Cave. Dungeon. You know. Whatever.

At its depths, a hidden treasure of immeasurable value. Isaac, the great newt wizard, wishes to purloin this treasure. But between Isaac and their prize lie all manner of ancient traps, or at least as many as I could cobble together in 48 hours.

Can Isaac make it through these dangerous chambers? I sure hope so! I playtested at least, like, once.

Isaac's Descent is a puzzle-platformer for the PICO-8 that I made for Ludum Dare 36, and my first published game that I made entirely by myself. I copied the engine from Under Construction, and everything else was made in 48 hours. Given that, and that I'd never made music before, it came out pretty dang well.

It does suffer a little bit from the PICO-8's very limited set of buttons. Sorry! (If you're not familiar, the PICO-8 is an imaginary 8-bit-ish console, and it only exposes pretend X and O buttons and a d-pad — games can't read directly from the keyboard. Also, X and O are actually the X and Z keys, but they can also be other keys, so I can't just say X and Z.)

Despite my best efforts, it's possible to get stuck in one or two places. Press Enter to bring up the menu, where you can reset the room. Also, up and down cycle through the inventory — there's a little UI hint that tells you this, but it doesn't always show up

A couple puzzles are a bit clever, but not too difficult (with perhaps one exception), so the game is only five or ten minutes long.

I plan to port the game to LÖVE and expand it into something a little meatier, so stay tuned for that.

Code licensed as MIT; assets licensed as CC-BY-SA.


Release date Aug 29, 2016
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars
(10 total ratings)
Made withPICO-8
Tags8-Bit, floraverse, Ludum Dare, Ludum Dare 36, PICO-8, Puzzle-Platformer
Code licenseMIT License
Asset licenseCreative Commons Attribution_ShareAlike v4.0 International
Average sessionA few minutes
LinksSource code, Ludum Dare


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I finished the game! It was fun trying to puzzle around the levers and lasers and such. I kept getting my controls mixed up but that's just 'cus I haven't played enough Pico games to get used to it, and the levels were small enough that even if I had to reset, it wasn't a big deal because I wouldn't be set back that much and I knew I'd be able to retrace my steps.

Also, the little characters are very cute, and the music doesn't drive you up the wall by the end of the game, the way lots of looping tracks do (and that's including the extra time that I was stuck on the first level! lol)


haha, congrats!  thank you, and i'm glad you liked it  :)

I don't get it. Am I suppose to use the vine to get onto the platform at the very beginning? I'm stuck and don't understand how to use it. Should I have more inventory, or is that only later? Up and down don't do anything.

you get more inventory later

X should be jump?

I can jump, but the bridge doesn't let me through. I figured I'd need to use the vine somehow for that... I found if I use the vine at the top of my jump under the bridge, the panel directly overhead kind of blinks off for an instant? But I haven't been able to use that to get onto the bridge. I might be going about it wrong but I've tried using the vine all over the room to no avail.

there is one other thing beneath the bridge you can use

The lever? I can't interact with it after I pull it the first time though? Sorry :s

(the spikes)

hellppp i dont know to get past the 3rd level ahhhh

whoops ok im dumb i found it disregard my stupidity


Really well designed levels! 

However, it was really frustrating when I would screw up jumps and things (forcing me to keep retrying puzzles I knew what I had to do to solve) when my muscle memory kept trying to use the up arrow instead of X to jump. This is an easy fix: change 'jump' to up arrow and 'switch item' to X. Alternatively, offer a way to input controls (if that's possible with PICO, I'm not sure). 

It's a testament to the great puzzle design that I didn't give up immediately when I ran into these issues, though. Overall, really great game, and I'd love to see more!

This is a bit tricky since I've also seen people explicitly ask for ↑ to not be jump in PICO-8 games — it makes jumping while moving difficult on a controller with a d-pad  :)  Still trying to come up with a way to make everyone happy on that front.  Thank you though, I'm glad you liked it!


this is great! good puzzles, interesting powers and just well designed levels. 

would go hunting for sabre again!

Thank you!  I'm hoping to expand this into a more serious game someday  :)