Review – Immortal Redneck
Entertainment is, has been, and always will be about having fun. Even though there is plenty of room for creativity, film has a framework of rules that it has to operate under in order to return the studio’s investment. Often times writers and directors will adjust their story in accordance with the studio’s wishes, altering their vision to meet audience and studio expectations. On the other hand, we have the video game industry. From its very origin, gaming was weird. Joust? There’s no explanation, just a knight on an ostrich fighting off knights riding vultures. It works because it’s absurd and that’s what audiences have come to expect from video games. Immortal Redneck? There’s no explanation, just a mummified cartoon hick blasting away other undead beasts under the favor of the gods. Likewise, it’s absurd and works, because what else would you expect from a game titled Immortal Redneck?
Developed by CremaGames, Immortal Redneck is a procedurally generated first-person shooter that gives players control of a mummified, backwoods, American hillbilly as they explore labyrinths contained within three different pyramids. Players awaken and step out of a sarcophagus to find themselves alone in the middle of the dessert, surrounded by nothing but Egyptian pyramids. Armed with a shotgun, your trusty plaid, and nothing but time on your hands, what is one to do with eternal life, if not ransack historical monuments?
In order to enter the pyramids, players must pay a toll and forfeit any gold that they are carrying in order to enter through the temple gates. Once inside, players are provided with a mini map that will reveal the area’s layout one room at a time as they are explored. With each room reveal, the mini map will show icons that indicate the location of treasures, special skill scrolls, and the staircase that will lead players up to the pyramid’s next floor. With each new floor that players traverse, enemies will get health and damage boosts, drastically increasing the difficulty with each new floor. The amount of gold that players receive will also increase with each new floor ascended during a run, granting a greater long term advantage, but serving little immediate purpose.
Upon death, players will return to their sarcophagus where they will be able to purchase and upgrade new skills from the (literal) skill tree. It’s here that you can spend accumulated gold to add nominal stat boosts to attack damage, health, and defense. But far more importantly, climbing up the skill tree will unlock the favor of multiple different gods that the player can serve under, acting as character loadouts. At the beginning of each run, players will select which loadout they would like to use before they embark on their next tomb raid. Depending on the selected loadout, characters are gifted with heavy status buffs, debuffs, and a unique active power. For example, Apis, the god of strength, will grant players higher base attack and defense, as well as temporary invincibility.
However, in the names of balance, there are costs to these benefits, such as slower speeds and decreased gold earnings. Most disappointingly, I found that the starting loadout was the most well-balanced and the most enjoyable. While other character classes introduce more variety to the game, their class weaknesses far outweigh the excitement of variety and discovery. Especially when it comes to the rogue-like genre, half the fun is uncovering new and more valuable gear and abilities, but Immortal Redneck becomes repetitive and familiar all too quickly.
Cartoonish in nature, Immortal Redneck can be difficult to get accustomed to. Despite their ghoulish intentions, most enemies are cuter than they are intimidating. Yet, in contrast our unnamed, undead, and unfiltered Appalachian friend will drop an F-bomb each time a cuddly snake attacks him. It’s an odd juxtaposition that rarely works, only made stranger by how infrequently your character says anything at all. Yet, in further contrast, Immortal Redneck‘s greatest success lies within its personality.
Easily described as an “Egyptian Tower of Guns“, it would take little effort to write off Immortal Redneck as a copy and paste clone of its predecessors. But the aforementioned charm in enemy design, as well as weapon personality, is hard to overlook. Each weapon has a unique reload animation that leaves players feeling like the developer invested time in making each one feel fun. I know what you’re thinking, “That’s not why anyone plays games!”, and you would be right. But allow me to provide a rebuttal: Undead Larry the Cable Guy will spin the standard six-chamber revolver around his finger like a Western outlaw. Few things are as satisfying as pulling off a clean headshot on an Anubis archer, only to blow smoke from the barrel of your gun, do some fancy tricks, and walk away victorious. It’s a small detail for sure, but it’s the little things that really count in this otherwise familiar game.
As it stands now, the console version of Immortal Redneck, could use some optimization. Even though its visuals could easily blend in with the Xbox 360 catalog, the Xbox One will still experience the occasional frame rate stutters, despite the low graphic demands. While it goes without saying that a PC game will almost always exceed the visual capacity of consoles, the Steam version of the game has textures that are clean enough to leave one wondering whether or not the console versions were a rushed afterthought. And the audio isn’t much of a picnic either. Vocals come in crystal clear, but gunfire effects from a number of weapons, the uzi for example, sound like they’ve been submerged underwater. The shotgun rings loudly with the expected thundering boom, but other effects are squandered by over compression and are grossly underwhelming.
Immortal Redneck is quite the mixed bag of tricks. At times, I found it to be a charmingly fun shooter, while others felt like an utter grindfest, with each new skill providing little relief or variance. I found it difficult to keep returning to Immortal Redneck for this review, but each time that I mustered up the strength to load it up, it turned into a play session hours long. As players progress through the skill tree, they’ll see that they slowly progress just a little bit farther into the pyramid each time, resulting in sessions that can easily last forty minutes. But in all this time, I rarely found myself enjoying the experience. Most of my time was spend completing a lengthy runthrough, leveling up a few skills, starting a new run to test out the new stats, and repeat. My continued play was driven more by curiosity than enjoyment.
There is plenty to enjoy about Immortal Redneck, but none of it is for me. Thankfully, the most prominent technical issues should be easily correctable through future patches and updates. Immortal Redneck comes at the steep price point of $19.99, which I find difficult to defend. Unless you’re riveted by these kinds of games, my recommendation is to wait a bit as a title like this is sure to hit Games with Gold and Playstation Plus within the year.
An unusually cute and charming design for a shooter that was poorly executed.
The ebb and flow of the game feels unbalanced, ranging from crossfire chaos to trudging through empty rooms.
Inconsistent quality of SFX was quite surprising and disappointing in a final product.
Fun Factor: 7.0
Upper levels with more enemies can be a lot of fun, but can’t be accessed without putting in a hefty grind.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Immortal Redneck is available now on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One and will be available later this year on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Immortal Redneck was provided by the publisher.