Review: Immortal Redneck

There must be something in the ruins of ancient Egypt that inspire legions of monsters to rampage through the dusty halls and hidden passageways of its tombs. Drop a pyramid in the desert and you’ve got an instant infestation that only a hyperactive killing-machine of a protagonist armed with the most destructive arsenal ever unleashed can hope to eradicate. If one pyramid is trouble then three is just plain ridiculous, and Immortal Redneck is nothing if not excessive.

The nameless redneck was tearing across the desert in his buggy, ditched it in a ravine, and when he woke up he found himself wrapped in bandages and rarin’ to start shooting. Two of the pyramids were locked off but the middle one was just sitting there, ready to explore, so armed to the teeth and ready to put the arsenal to the test, the redneck got moving. And then he died. As it turns out, though, the redneck of Immortal Redneck seems to have some kind of immortality. Each death sees him pushing open the sarcophagus in the middle of the valley, good as new and eager to try again. The randomized rooms of the pyramid are restocked with monsters, guns and powerup scrolls. With the gold from the previous run spent on a few permanent stat upgrades it’s bound to end in victory this time, right?

Immortal Redneck is a roguelike FPS of pure action gaming. The redneck runs through the pyramid with three weapons to switch between, trying to survive each increasingly dangerous floor as it gets both a little bit smaller and more concentratedly deadly as he makes his way to the top. The expansive lower floors are relatively easy, but as he climbs to the apex of the pyramid and the boss that awaits there’s only so much space for all those monsters to fit. Thankfully he’s also getting more deadly as he goes, thanks to ability-enhancing scrolls and new weapons found along the way. While he can only rarely carry more than three weapons at a time, it doesn’t take more than a couple of runs to start getting a sense of which weapons you’ll want to keep if you find them and which to avoid.

The starting loadout is determined by the the god you choose at the beginning of each life, and that also determines both a secondary magic ability and a passive skill. Sekhmet, goddess of healing, starts off with an ankh, double pistol and a flock of homing firebirds called the Phoenix. Her magic changes any items in view to to delicious, life-restoring meat when activated, and her passive increases your max health by a point (or two, when upgraded) for every new room. The stealthy Amunet, on the other hand, comes with a powerful and incredibly accurate throwing knife, a machine gun and a bomb. The active skill turns you invisible while making a log duplicate that enemies will attack, and her passive lets you run backwards instead of the usual walk. There are nine avatars to align with, but you can only choose from between two random selections at the start of each run. It doesn’t take too long to have a favorite patron deity but you’ll need to get skilled with several of them for those times when you can’t get the one you’re hoping for.

All the skills are useful, though, and it doesn’t take long to start finding different guns to edit the loadout into shape. Each room of the pyramid is chosen randomly from a pre-built selection, stocked with monsters and the occasional treasure chest. Creatures come in a good selection of types, from Anubis-archers to hopping sarcophaguses that send out short little mummies. The purple skulls are ornate while the yellow lizard-critters cartoonish, but they somehow all work together in the world of Immortal Redneck to create a functioning and deadly menagerie that can attack in decent-sized groups. Not Serious Sam-sized hordes, of course, but the rooms can still get fairly cramped before you start thinning the herd.

It initially doesn’t take much for the herd to thin you out instead, but between spending the money enemies drop on permanent stat upgrades and getting a nice mix of modifier scrolls it doesn’t take too long to start making real progress. Enemies can drop several different items – cash, health, ammo, weapons and scrolls.  The last two are fairly rare, and scrolls come with the added difficulty of never knowing what’s inside until you grab it.  Once collected it’s yours for the rest of the run, and for the most part they’re incredibly helpful. Expand the weapon inventory to four or add an extra jump are pretty normal powerups, but you’re far more likely to find something a bit weirder instead. For example, you might do more damage when standing still, or see all enemies as a red outline when hidden by walls or just have a small chance to turn a defeated enemy into a chicken. The chickens are cute little things, and it’s actually kind of fun to leave a room with a few clucking away to themselves. It doesn’t quite make up for getting a bad scroll, such as being only able to carry one weapon with improved attack power or removing the health bar from the screen, but it’s close.

While Immortal Redneck is primarily a fast-paced FPS, there’s another aspect of the gameplay that doesn’t usually fare quite so well in the first-person perspective and that’s platforming. The redneck starts off fast and has great airtime, and it doesn’t take more than a few games before you buy a double-jump. Each room is built with a good amount of verticality and there are plenty of floating platforms to take advantage of as well, and the surprising thing is how well these work. It doesn’t take much practice with the redneck’s movement before you’re able to land a long jump on a small platform, and if you fall odds are good he’ll grab on and pull himself up anyway. It’s a control solution that allows for plenty of air-time, and it quickly becomes part of the shooting action as well. It’s just as viable a strategy to jump to avoid a projectile as it is to dodge left or right, and you can even clear some of the shorter melee-focused enemies when they’ve got you backed into a corner. Coupled with the fast movement speed it makes for a very nimble shooter where speed and agility become your primary defense.

Closing Comments:

Immortal Redneck is an absolutely fantastic FPS-roguelike. There’s a lot of care in its room design, the enemies all have their own distinct style making it easy to identify the most threatening one in any situation, the action is fast and powerful and the whole game looks fantastic. The difficulty is tuned high but there’s plenty of room for growth, both from learning the enemies’ patterns and from buying upgrades for permanent character progression. Choosing a patron deity at the start of the run makes each round play a little differently than the previous one, and when coupled with the powerups found along the way you’ll have a unique character by the time you either get killed off or somehow survive the traps and creatures of the pyramid. It’s a long way to the top and each floor is more concentrated than the last, but there’s plenty of great shooting on the way to the boss fight at the apex. Then there are still two more pyramids to fight through, because if there’s one thing an immortal redneck loves, it’s when the shooting gets completely out of hand.