Release Date: Out Now (PC, Mac, Linux) 27/02/2018 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One) q1 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Linux
Imagine getting abducted by Aliens, but rather than jetting through space with your captors, you’re instead mummified and left in a dangerous Egyptian setting. I mean, sure, it’s probably the better of the two scenarios (I don’t really fancy the anal probing that much), but it’s not the typical outcome of an Alien abduction.
That’s the situation that the titular hero of Immortal Redneck finds himself in though. Fortunately, he just so happens to be a well-armed redneck who’s ready for some action, so no monsters are going to faze him as he looks to blast his way through a selection of ancient pyramids. Sounds like a great set-up for a rogue-like first-person shooter to me…
So Immortal Redneck is all about running-and-gunning in first-person action, with a strong emphasis placed on going all-guns blazing and jumping around the joint rather than tactically seeking cover or taking your time – as long as you’ve got some fast reactions and a bloody good aim, you’ll be fine. It certainly embraces the old-school style of first-person shooting with its mixture of platforming and gunning down enemies (some of the levels are huge and full of plenty of tricky jumps and platforms to climb), but it all comes together nicely to make Immortal Redneck a really fun game to play.
Of course, given the game’s rogue-like setup, it’s never as simple as just shooting through endless foes and making your way to the peak of each pyramid. Every time you die, you’ll be sent right back out of the pyramid and forced to start again. It’s permadeath at its finest, and it’s going to take a fair bit of commitment to survive the Egyptian beasts and become powerful enough to finally vanquish them all.
Fortunately, you’re able to improve the Redneck’s abilities after each run – by killing monsters, you earn gold that can be spent to purchase new skills each time you die. These skills carry between each playthrough of the game, so there’s certainly a sense of progression to Immortal Redneck that isn’t solely based around how far through a pyramid you manage to get.
The only downside to this levelling up system is that you can’t carry gold over – you spend gold to unlock skills, but any you don’t spend gets taken away from you when you start a new run. It’s a bit frustrating, especially since some of the better skills require quite a hefty sum of gold to unlock.
The God selection adds an extra twist to gameplay too. There are nine different Gods in the game which offer the Redneck a different assortment of abilities and starting weapons: there’s the likes of Sekhmet who offers healing abilities, Amunet who can turn the Redneck invisible to stealthily take out foes, Apis who grants you the ability to temporarily become invincible, or Seth who offers a selection of weapons that are influenced by Tesla’s electricity. There’s a rich variety of differences between them all, and you’ll really have to play around them a bit to see what works best for you.
Not that it always makes a big difference, though. Whilst you get to choose which God you use in-game, it’s only between a randomised selection of two each run. This forces you to adjust to different playstyles, which is both a good and bad thing; when I initially started playing the game it was great to try them all and figure out how each one works, but after a few hours play it was often frustrating to find that I couldn’t just use my favourite whenever I wanted to. At least it adds some variety to each run though and ensures they never feel the same.
The fact that Immortal Redneck’s levels are procedurally generated helps add to the variety too, with the layout of each pyramid and the rooms themselves changing every time you play the game. It’s a common theme with a rogue-like game, and it’s something that’s cleverly implemented here. It actually compliments the gameplay: you’re tasked with clearing out each room of enemies as opposed to simply exploring them, so rather than getting bored of similar looking hallways and rooms, you instead get little playpens of utter chaos. As you progress through the pyramid, the rooms get smaller in size and offer more difficult enemies, so the carnage only amps up the more you play.
Simply taking out tons of enemies can often feel like a chore when in larger areas, but Immortal Redneck introduces a few neat mechanics that not only make it easier to put together a strategy but also ensure you’re never stuck looking around aimlessly for any enemies you might have missed. For example, if you don’t contact any enemies for a short while an x-ray vision-like ability kicks in that allows you to see the outline of any remaining foes through walls. It might seem cheap, but it’s actually incredibly useful when you’re taking down the elusive last few enemies in a big room. There’s also the fact that the targeting reticule changes colour based upon an enemy’s health, allowing you to see how close to death they are. This might seem like a small detail, but when you’re in a room full to the brim with a variety of enemies and have got to pick your shots carefully, knowing which ones will fall the soonest can make a big difference as far as your survival is concerned.
When you take down enemies they drop a variety of things like ammo or gold, but the most useful are the weapons and scrolls. There are over fifty weapons in all, ranging from the likes of pistols and machine guns to full-blown flamethrowers and rocket launchers. You’re definitely going to end up well-equipped in the game, and whilst you typically choose the starting load-out that best suits you, you shouldn’t expect to keep them for too long.
The scrolls add a much more interesting twist to gameplay, given that they can both positively and negatively affect the Redneck. You won’t know what effect they have until you pick them up either, so there’s a real risk-versus-reward feeling to their implementation.
On the positive side of improvements, there are simple things such as the ability to earn more ammo or gold, the ability to improve your fire-rate, or just gaining a big boost to your overall health. There are also more interesting improvements too, like enemies receiving damage when they hurt you, the ability to earn health when you kill an enemy, and even one that grants a small chance that enemies turn into chickens when you shoot them. It mixes up genuine improvements with silly little features, but they’re all handy to have.
On the flip-side, some of the negative effects include forcing you to only use one weapon, taking away fifty percent of your health, hiding your crosshair, changing the game’s font to hieroglyphs, or the aptly named ‘shit’ scroll which gives you nothing. Again, it mixes up genuine determents with silly little features, but you can guarantee they’ll all give you a bad time.
Whether it’s thanks to some deadly scrolls, the ever-changing rooms, or just the bombardment of enemies that come your way, you’ll definitely have a tricky time with Immortal Redneck. It’s designed to test the player and push them (and make them restart time and time again), but at least it’s never frustrating nor does it ever feel unfair. There’s a genuine sense of progression that comes with seeing yourself get further through a pyramid, whilst learning how enemies work and what weapons suit your playstyle just adds to the experience. It’s an addictive game, and no matter how often you die, you’ll constantly see yourself getting that step closer to your goal and want to keep playing.
Immortal Redneck sports a very pretty Egyptian aesthetic that’s full of colour and personality (and actually reminded me of the classic shooter series Timesplitters, which is always a good thing). Enemies look great and are really well-designed too, with a wide range of cutesy-looking menaces and full-blown Egyptian beasts hounding you throughout – the variety of enemies is certainly impressive, as is the case with the boss fights you encounter too. Given the derelict vibe that would typically come with the setting, Immortal Redneck never ceased to impress me with its vibrant look and emphasis on not taking itself too seriously.