Immortal Redneck (PC) Review

By Ian Goldberg 19.07.2017

Review for Immortal Redneck on PC

It’s fair to say there’s something immediately compelling about death. It’s been a bit of a sticking point since the first proto-gerbil keeled over and poor Neolithic Billy realised, “Oh no, that’s gonna happen to me one day… innit?” However! Thanks to the advent of videogames, one can enjoy death’s dress rehearsal to their heart’s content—and there’s few genres more proficient at delivering this exercise than roguelikes. Permanent death, brutal difficulty and procedural generation—these elements form the bedrock of an unforgiving, but ultimately rewarding experience. There’s wonder to be found in exploring the unknown, in the significance of every sliver of HP and the mastery that comes from a landfill’s worth of player corpses. Immortal Redneck creates a satisfying enough gameplay loop, but falls short in creating a memorable experience that stands out from the glut of roguelike releases.

Immortal Redneck frontloads very little onto the player. The premise? You are a redneck. That’s about it; the character, motivation and backstory all tied in a neat little bow. Oh, and also you’re dead. As is the way of these things, though, some passing Egyptian deities dust you off and you’re treated to a friendly embalming—granting the player an eternal lease on life. In exchange, they now must reach the apex of three pyramids and dispense with their mummified inhabitants (usually with topical applications of hot lead).

After a breezy cutscene and tutorial one-two, the player is loosed headlong into the first pyramid. Notably Immortal Redneck’s structure is a departure from the usual roguelike fare. The lowest and easiest floor is by far the largest, and each preceding floor narrows but grows more difficult. Fittingly enough this is how pyramids geometrically work, but it does introduce a curious pacing issue, but more on that later.

Screenshot for Immortal Redneck on PC

The floor plan of each pyramid is randomly generated. Upon entering a room, the doors lock and a specific encounter is triggered. Sometimes these are platforming challenges, or timed circuits but the meat of Immortal Redneck’s gameplay is in the combat. It draws a lot of from old-school run and gun gameplay, think Serious Sam by way of roguelike. The player character is wickedly fast and the enclosed arena spaces encourage constant movement. The player leaps across terrain, avoiding projectiles all while shepherding enemies with torrential bullet fire. This is where Immortal Redneck feels like its firing with all cylinders. However, the game often feels tenuously split between its commitment to running/gunning and roguelike mechanics.

This is very acutely felt in Immortal Redneck’s RPG inspired progression tree, whereby the player gains continuous progress in-between runs. This scaling of stats, however, means that all of the available weapons start off feeling stunted and ineffectual. The movement speed, enemy design and the twin barrels of shotgun are all telling very different stories than the tragedy of a bunch of mummies wiping clumps of concussed skull off their hammers. The sad reality is, enemies can deal out far more punishment than the player character can return in kind. This makes the joy of combat and exploration difficult to justify in the face of losing more precious chunks of health.

Fundamentally, this an early game problem, however. At the end of every run, gold earned in the pyramid be pumped into various permanent stats and bonuses, incrementally shifting the balance of the game towards the player. It’s a shame then, even once one applies a generous helping of stats, the guns end up feeling so overwhelmingly mediocre. The AK’s sputter with all the thunderous impact of a pinwheel caught in a light breeze. Shotguns politely, passionlessly disgorge buckshot by way of a perfunctory orgasm. Sound design, the sluggish reload times, the feel of a weapon… RPG stat boosting does little to fix that.

Screenshot for Immortal Redneck on PC

There are exceptions of course. There’s a certain deliciously Matrix feeling about flying through the air while firing guns akimbo at a Jackal-headed archer. The sniper rifle stands out as an exemplar among its decidedly more milquetoast companions. By utilizing range, the weapon affords an element of calm, calculated hunting to combat. Although, it did draw attention to one of the game’s more baffling choices. In curious defiance of both first-person shooter trends and the very notion of fun itself; Immortal Redneck doesn’t bother granting bonus damage for headshots. It’s even senselessly justified on a loading screen. “Don’t bother aiming for the head,” the game assures us. “Mummies don’t have any brains!” Sure… but they don’t tend to move around much either. We’re already on board with cackling eyeball monsters shooting lasers and blue lizard wizards muttering incantations while rocking Egyptian headdresses—it seems an odd place to draw the line, no?

This showcases one of Immortal Redneck’s more irritating habits, the deliberate wedging of obtuse mechanics into the otherwise satisfying ecosystem of gameplay, like kudzu in a carefully cultivated garden. This extends all the way from its combat, to all facets of gameplay, especially the loot system.

Immortal Redneck supplements helpful scrolls that give run-specific buffs to the character. This is used as a reward for exploration and difficult combat encounters. These scrolls apply a plethora of helpful bonuses from plain stat boosts, to cash rewards and even immunity from environmental hazards. Getting a scroll should be an exciting event, except it’s tainted by small percentage of scrolls that apply random debuffs. This can range from annoyances like erasing the minimap, (which, in a 3D procedurally generated level, is always insufferable) to the devastating effects like doing away with the targeting reticule. Contemporary roguelikes have utilized loot systems far more effectively, either by implementing means for a perceptive player to avoid bad items IE Binding of Isaac or by balancing positive and negative attributes to them, like Immortal Redneck’s very own vampire scroll—which gives health for killing enemies at the cost of losing health drops.

Screenshot for Immortal Redneck on PC

The weightiest of Immortal Redneck’s design issues comes down to how it paces its roguelike elements. As mentioned earlier, the game’s progression is pyramid shaped, with the bottommost, floor being its largest but far and away its easiest challenge. Unfortunately, this means that the player will be redoing the game’s entry level content for longer than virtually anything else. Now, here’s where one might expect Immortal Redneck to throw aside the curtain, coyly revealing to the savvier amongst us a shortcut to higher floors: but no such luck. The truly crippling realisation is that the first floor is essentially identical to the following six. The exact same enemies, room layouts and items appear consistently throughout all floors, completely deflating the thrill of entering a new zone.

As a result, the whole pyramid bleeds into itself and content becomes saturated, spread thinly over the rearranging, but ultimately repetitive environments. There are three pyramids, and each with new content nestled inside; however, the game takes the “finish your greens before your dessert stance” and a player will have to clear an entire pyramid (no mean feat) before they see something new.

It’s a shame, because Immortal Redneck has colourful environments, and aesthetically interesting enemies, and an accomplished sense of style; and all this is undermined by an insistence on holding novelty to hostage. Novelty can be what a roguelike lives or dies on, and Immortal Redneck doesn’t exactly have a lot of depth going on underneath the hood. Dodged one screaming purple skull, and you’ve dodged them all.

Screenshot for Immortal Redneck on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Overall, the design gymnastics Immortal Redneck puts itself through to blend free-form run and gun gameplay with unforgiving roguelike mechanics can be readily apparent sometimes. More often than not, though, it manages to stand up on its core combat loop. It's fun, it's fast - and that's kind of the only string to Immortal Redneck's banjo, for better or worse.

Developer

Crema

Publisher

Crema

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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