The Binding of Isaac: Repentance Tainted Characters Guide

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Dustin Hansen
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It can be extremely difficult to keep up with new additions to The Binding of Isaac when updates are added, and this is especially true for big DLCs like Repentance. We're currently working our way through the most recent (and supposedly final) addition for The Binding of Isaac, and one item that might need some explaining is the inclusion of corrupted characters.

Every playable character in The Binding of Isaac: Repentance has a "contaminated" version. Even though they look like reskins of Cain, Isaac, Lilith and the others, most of them start with new items and abilities, effectively doubling how you can start a new run once they're unlocked. . Here's how to unlock each tainted character and what makes them special.



How to Unlock Corrupted Characters

Unlocking corrupted characters is simple to explain, as the process is the same for everyone. However, it takes time if you want to catch them all, and you need to string together a good run in order to reach the point where you can access them. Here's how.

defeat the mother

You will need to defeat Mother at least once. This is a new boss added to the Repentance DLC, and you'll find her at the end of the Corpse II biome.

Find dad's note

You will need to find Dad's note on another errand. It is a special item that you will be able to grab in the Depths II biome. To find it, you'll need to defeat the boss and then teleport out of the room. Look for a slightly different skull somewhere in the level and bombard it in order to find a Fool card if you don't have teleport.



Return to the starting room after defeating the boss and you'll find a door that can be opened with The Polaroid, The Negative, or the Faded Polaroid. You will find dad's note in this room and you will begin your ascent.

reach home

Go through Ascension and you will reach a new area called Home. It's not random like the other areas in The Binding of Isaac, so go through the few rooms and you'll come to Mom's Room. Open the chest here to find the Red Key item and unlock it for future runs. You can now use this item to unlock Corrupted characters.

Use the red key

Enter the hall outside Mom's room and use the red key. This will open a hidden room with the contaminated version of the character you play inside. Touch this character to unlock them for future runs.

Find the cracked key

Unfortunately, you won't be able to continue finding the red key in Mom's Room in later runs. You will either need to carry it to the area or find the Cracked Key item, which is a consumable that has the same effect as the red key.

A good tip for finding the Cracked Key is to drop any jewel in a boss room after defeating your enemy. When you go through Ascension after finding Dad's Note, you'll take a trip to each boss room you've previously visited, but any Jewels you left behind will be turned into a Cracked Key.

It's definitely a process but, like many things in The Binding of Isaac, you'll find a rhythm when you start to work your way through it. Take each character through the ascension to the welcome area and use the red/cracked key in the room before Mom's room to get all tainted characters.



Corrupt character traits

Most tainted characters have similar traits to their regular counterparts, but they usually all have an extremely powerful ability that's balanced against a significant downside.

They all have varying levels of starting stats and such, but here are the main things that separate each tainted character from their regular versions.

  • Contaminated Isaac: Each item pedestal alternates between two options, but you can only hold eight passive items at a time.
  • Contaminated Magdalene: Has a powerful melee attack that triggers when an enemy hits her and leaves a trail behind that damages enemies, but her health slowly reduces to two red hearts.
  • Contaminated Cain: Starts with the Crafting Bag item, which stores pickups and turns them into a passive item when used. However, Tainted Cain can only obtain items through this method.
  • Contaminated Judas: starts with the active element of the forces of evil instead of the book of Belial. This active item gives him an invulnerable charge attack.
  • Tainted ???: Starts with the Hold active item and almost every pickup is replaced with Tainted variants. Hold lets Tainted??? to store his leftmost poop (it can hold up to nine) for later use.
  • Contaminated Eve: Starts with the Sumptorium active item instead of Eve's normal items. When active, she drains Eve's health to summon Blood Clot pets while she fires tears.
  • Tainted Samson: Has a Berserk effect similar to regular Samson, but limits it to a powerful melee weapon and also has a timer that recharges when killing enemies.



  • Contaminated Azazel: Has a full-screen beam attack that deals low damage, as well as a high knockback, close-range attack that leaves enemies vulnerable to its beam. Contaminated Azazel cannot fly.
  • Tainted Lazarus: Swaps between his living and dead form after each play. Each form has different stats and abilities, making them a difficult character to master.
  • Tainted Eden: Starts with random stats and items, and they all reroll whenever Tainted Eden takes damage.
  • Tainted Lost: Starts with the Holy Card consumable, which will protect you from a single source of damage. The drop rate of Holy Cards is much higher when playing as Tainted Lost.
  • Tainted Lilith: Starts with the C-section passive, which replaces Tainted Lilith's tear attack with a baby attached by an umbilical cord (!!!!). The baby deals damage and can also fire tears at enemies.
  • Tainted Keeper: Every item is acquired by coins, and Tainted Keeper also uses coins for health. Defeating enemies drops temporary coins that quickly disappear if not picked up.
  • Contaminated Apollyon: Starts with the Abyss item, which sucks up all items in the room and spawns a familiar attack fly for each item you can shoot at enemies.
  • Tainted Forgotten: Has a familiar skeleton that you can throw at your enemies, dealing heavy damage. Unable to get red hearts.
  • Contaminated Bethany: Starts with the active item Lemegeton, which grants a random passive item. Contaminated Bethany cannot gain Red Heart health, instead using Red Hearts to fuel her active item usage if not fully charged.
  • Contaminated Jacob: Starts with the Anima Sola element, which limits the actions of the nearest enemy for five seconds. You will need it, because Tainted Jacob will start being chased 30 seconds in each floor by Darth Esau. If Darth Esau catches Contaminated Jacob, he transforms into a character similar to The Lost, and one more hit will kill him. If you go to the next floor as a ghostly character, contaminated Jacob will be brought back to his "alive" state.

All of these corrupted characters add unique twists to the game, and some of them will drastically change how you need to play The Binding of Isaac to succeed. Good luck surviving the basement and check out our game page for more on The Binding of Isaac: Repentance!

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