Immortal Redneck – Review
Xbox One, PS4, PC
There have been a few attempts at an FPS Rogue-like over the years but they have all fallen a little short in key areas. The reward ratio for each run was off, the core gameplay loop not varied enough or the aesthetic was dull. For whatever the reason the balance that is essential to a good rogue-like was messed up in one way or another and therefore the games never got the chance to sink their hooks into people. That is until Immortal Redneck because, in my mind at least, it nails just about everything it sets out to do.
There is a story, not that it matters really but for those that care it goes like this. A gentleman straight off the set of “My Name is Earl” was holidaying in Egypt when he crashes his buggy and dies. For some reason, the ancient gods of Egypt resurrect him to become their tool and fight… strange goats and lizards. Honestly, who cares? The story means exactly nothing and is only there to give a reason as to why the protagonist shouts redneck one-liners and wears flannel. In fact, these one-liners are pretty much the game’s biggest problem. Most are not funny, with only the occasional quote providing a giggle. Added to that annoyance is the fact that they are repeated often. Obviously, humour is very much a personal taste thing, by in my mind it misses the mark more often than not.
Thankfully it is very easy to overlook this small issue because everything else in Immortal Redneck is great. The rogue-like gameplay loop will be familiar to anyone that has played Rogue Legacy and its ilk. The game starts with players choosing an Egyptian god as their totem (each of which has different special powers and bonuses) then entering into the Pyramid. Once inside there is a healthy dose of old-school FPS action on offer, with the moment to moment gameplay feeling very similar to titles like Unreal and Quake. Each level of the pyramid needs to be explored and an exit to a higher level found, with a boss battle every three or so levels. When players enter a room, all exits shut until it has been cleared of bad guys, so there is no room for rushing. As players progress, they collect coins, which are used when the player dies to purchase health/ammo upgrades, new powers and extra gods. The player then hands over any spare gold, picks a totem god and dives back into the pyramid.
This gameplay loop would get boring quickly if it wasn’t for some very smart design decisions made by the developer. The first of those is the random nature of the Pyramid. Every single run through is different, thanks to the randomly generated levels. These levels are put together in a building blocks style fashion where the same set of rooms are placed in a different formation each time the game is played. Thankfully there are a huge variety of these room types and even after 15 hours of play time, I am still discovering new ones. The rooms are spiced up even further by different enemy variations that keep players on their toes. The second great feature is the powerup system or scrolls as the game calls them. These scrolls are found throughout the game, in chests or dropped by enemies, and they are a lottery pick of good, bad and somewhere in between powers. For example, you may pick up a scroll that gives you an extra weapon slot, or one that takes half your health away but gives your weapons a damage boost, or even one that only allows you to only carry half the amount of ammo. There are seemingly hundreds of different scrolls and players never know what they are going to get until they pick it up. These scrolls add a huge amount of variance to the game, forcing players to overcome strange obstacles or use powerful boosts in their quest to complete the three full pyramids on offer. It keeps the gameplay fresh and entertaining, encouraging the “one more run” syndrome at every turn.
What also impresses is the enemy and weapon design. The baddies include such weird things as Sarcophagi that spit out baby mummies, giant frogs, floating purple skulls and bow-wielding wolf priests to name a few. They all have different attacks and patterns to learn and while they don’t exactly have the world’s greatest AI, things never get boring because of the way the game mixes different enemy types together. There is something very satisfying about clearing out a room full of 8 different enemy types that all attack and move in unique ways. Weapons are also well put together. There is a huge amount of different weapons on offer including traditional things like AK 47’s, Pistols and Shotguns to more crazy tools of destruction like flaming Phoenixes, energy mines and fireworks launching miniguns. Some weapons are great all-rounders, like the Helsing Pistol, some are good for specific enemies like the dynamite and some weapons like the crowbar are just terrible and seem to be only in the game to troll the player. In all this massive collection of death-dealing implements are exciting to use and add further diversity to the game’s systems.
With Immortal Redneck, developers Crema have cracked the code to create the ideal FPS rogue-like. The core gunplay is fast and entertaining, the reward loop perfectly balanced and the variety in level, weapon and enemy design is impressive. The game creates a desire for players to come back for run through after run through, each time giving them something new and encouraging them as they get further and further into the game. The only downside to the game is the repetitive and frankly not very funny one-liners and that is something that can be easily ignored in light of how much the game gets right. Immortal Redneck is a huge surprise and one that can easily eat all of your spare time if you let it. Once you let it into your heart, it won’t let go without a fight. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.