Roguelites and first-person shooters haven’t really proven to be the greatest mix. Tower of Guns was an early contender, but its giant bullet hell rooms and limited weapon selection never really clicked together. Ziggeraut was the first game to get it right, but its focus on spell slinging left something to be desired in my eyes. Killing Room had a great aesthetic, but good first impressions gave way to little variety and shabby gunplay. Overall, there have been surprisingly few other games to attempt this style, and many assumed that STRAFE would be the first game to pull all the pieces together. However, right at the last minute, here comes CremaGames with Immortal Redneck, their first PC release. After having played it, I can safely say that shooter fans can now partake in the procedural DOOM clone of their dreams.
Immortal Redneck has about as much story as you’d want a game like this to have. A redneck gets into an accident while on vacation and awakens as a mummy in an Egyptian tomb. You play as this zombified yahoo as he loads up his shotgun and heads into the nearest pyramid, hoping to blast his way to some answers. There isn’t much beyond this setup, although the rare quips from your player character when picking up a new gun or fighting a specific foe are welcome and enjoyably silly.
Once you get your freshly wrapped boots on the ground, you’ll feel exactly why Immortal Redneck is worth your time. The game moves at a hundred miles an hour and features a run button on top of that, making your character a nimble force of death that can dodge projectiles and set up sick shots with regularity. You can also jump extremely high, which is useful during the game’s first-person platforming segments. You can’t really be precise when moving between smaller footholds, which causes issues with the way certain rooms were designed. Besides those instances, you can climb and move around each chamber as you see fit.
Each run consists of a randomized map filled with premade chambers. This easily could have been a recipe for disaster, but the developers have crafted a huge number of rooms for each section of the game. These range from platforming puzzle rooms, to combat arenas, to trap rooms that spawn in a huge number of enemies in close quarters. It is unfortunate that a lot of the rooms spawn the same enemies every time you come across them, which makes the game more about memorization than reaction time. Still, the variety is there, and each new run feels fresh for a long while.
This variety is helped further by the game’s class system, which has you unlock new starting loadouts via the gold you collect in each run. There are around ten different sets of weapons and abilities in all, but you can only pick from two when you start a new run. You can find additional weapons and abilities as rare drops during your adventure, but you’ll sometimes have to rely on whatever powers and firearms the good fates decided to grant you. This means that you’ll be learning how to best utilize every weapon and ability in every situation, and that’s a formula for roguelite fun.
The class system might sound a bit familiar if you’ve played Rogue Legacy, and the influence of that game doesn’t end there. You’re collecting gold all throughout your runs, and that gold is used after you die in the hub area. You can head to the skill tree to improve your stats, unlock new abilities, and eventually invest in new starting classes. You can also eventually take your gold to the shop, and this is where you can get a random perk or go back to the dungeon you previously explored. Your gold is forfeit once the shooting starts again, which means that you’re always encouraged to keep upgrading your stats, giving the game a great difficulty curve and encouraging that vital “one more run” feeling.
I’ve talked a lot about the roguelite part of this game, which draws from what came before and makes it work with this new style of play. What really makes Immortal Redneck stand out from the pack is how often it nails the feeling of its FPS combat. This is another game harkening back to the days of speed and dodging projectiles, and it feels excellent. The horde of Egyptian baddies is varied and fun to shoot, especially unique foes like the hopping sarcophagus that spawns miniature mummies or the blue whale goblin that spits green fireballs. I want to specifically call out the animations where enemies erupt from the sand as they’re summoned and fade back into it after they die, as those are mighty impressive effects for a game of this scale.
Where there is an army of darkness, there must also be a boomstick. Immortal Redneck understands this even if its default shotgun is a bit rubbish. The weapons you have to choose from are just as varied as everything else. Want to kill enemies with a box full of bees? Throw playing cards or kunai at foes? Launch ten arrows out of a crossbow at once? How about launching potatoes at their face or summoning a round of homing flames via the power of the phoenix? All of those exotic methods of death are here and complement an arsenal of deadly firearms. Some of the weapons (like the shotgun) seem underpowered, and some (like the sniper rifle) seem out of place, but you’ll eventually find uses for most of them.
I was disappointed at how the weapons feel, especially since many of them have muted controller vibration. Every shot sounds understated and the kickback on most guns is minimal at best. This problem multiplies when you’re low on health, which annoyingly causes all your sounds to be muffled as if a cannon was fired right beside you. The gameplay doesn’t suffer too bad from all this, but it’s still a big problem for a shooter that gets so much else right.
Graphically, some of the design can be a bit blocky, but I loved the atmosphere in each of the game’s pyramids. Every room has different lighting, and the glow that comes off of pits of lava and toxic sludge can surprise you as you’re rushing around the map. In addition, there are great decorations all over the place, mostly involving skulls and skeletons telling stories about past redneck warriors in your mind. Enemies are well-realized, toeing the same line between threatening and cartoonish as the demons from DOOM.
Starting with Immortal Redneck, 2017 looks to be the year that developers finally crack the code on the procedural FPS, and I couldn’t be happier. The subgenre has so much potential for fans of old school shooters, and the fun that this game provides is just the tip of the iceberg. However, I can’t look too far ahead, as Immortal Redneck impresses constantly and keeps you busy with its amped up combat. It learned its tricks from the greats, pushing you forward to collect ammo and gold by killing foes and then letting you progress after every run. It isn’t perfect, but it’s still intoxicatingly fun and well worth a look.
Immortal Redneck was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developers.
Correction: We originally stated the game had no controller vibration for weapons, this was in error due to a bug ran into with Steam Big Picture mode overwriting the game's native controller controls. It has been updated in the body to reflect the experience had with the weapons.
Learning from games both old and new, Immortal Redneck is a gameplay focused old school shooter at heart. Once you get up to speed, you'll have a tough time putting this excellent game down.(Review Policy)
- Projectile Dodging Gameplay
- Rewarding Progression
- Plenty of Variety
- Guns Lacking Kick
- Annoying Platforming
- Copy And Paste Chambers