The first person shooter is one of those things that’ll forever go down in history as a genre that really polarized video games and how people viewed them. Up until that point, it was simply a waste of time, combined with the occasional pearl clutching in terms of violence a la Mortal Kombat. But the real embracement of Doom, along with its predecessors (Blake Gold, anyone?) really brought people to a fervent pitch in terms of rebuke, opinions and hard, fast beliefs about school shootings. Once Doom took hold and the genre became a more popular and utilized idea, it spread like wildfire, and, with it, different takes on the idea. Sure, you could continue to be dark and brooding with sci-fi affects, like Quake and Unreal, or you could take it to even more bizarre realms, like Heretic, Rise of the Triad and Blood. But comedy – unrepentant, juvenile, tasteless comedy – brought the games to even greater audiences. Shadow Warrior, Duke Nukem and Redneck Rampage showed that you could mix jokes with your gore and really raise some eyebrows. Postal 2 is probably the definitive gem of it all, but that’s a topic for another time. The point is that these shooting games didn’t need to take themselves too seriously, because they were just games, and fans knew that. Serious Sam knew that. And, Crema, the developers behind Immortal Redneck, definitely know that.
Immortal Redneck is a goddamn thrill ride whose story is a mere framing device for everything that happens next. Basically, you’re this hillbilly who inexplicably was on vacation in Egypt. Think about all the implications that sentence just made, and figure out how the hell they’re supposed to work. Anyways, he crashes his ATV, Egyptian mystics find his body and now he’s a mummy who can’t die. And he wants to know who did this to him, why, and if he can still get moonshine in Africa. Turns out our hero has also attracted the attention of some of the Egyptian Deities, who decide to grant their blessings to him if he’s tenacious enough. And, when you’re immortal and solve everything with a shotgun, you may just be the right man for the job.
Combining game types can be rewarding but also incredibly dangerous if done incorrectly. You spread yourself too thin, promise too much and deliver too little, and generally turn off both sides of the table. Immortal Redneck combines a first person shooter with roguelite elements and pulls it off fantastically. The objective is to get to the top of the pyramid, where a giant boss is waiting for you and you need to deal with it. Each floor is procedurally generated, the stairs to the next level carefully hidden, and the stakes get higher as the floor plan grows smaller. Because, you know, pyramids are smaller towards the top. You have limited ammunition and even more limited life to get as high as you can, and then you’re gonna die. You absolutely will die the first time you play. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine someone who gets a lucky enough roll that they’re going to ace this game, cold turkey, from the word spawn. When you die, you wake up in your sarcophagus, outside the pyramid, but have all the gold you found. And that gold is the secret towards moving forward.
First and foremost, Immortal Redneck performs marvelously on the Nintendo Switch, something everyone has been wondering and hoping for with bated breath. There were numerous patches needed to help bring certain other shooters up to snuff upon release, but Immortal Redneck is, at the time of this writing, as smooth as someone could hope for, even in handheld mode. The install footprint is incredibly meager all things considered (around 2GB) and runs equally well off the SD or the internal memory. There’s no tearing that I noticed, no slowdown, and definitely no dip in quality from the PC version. The worst that I can say is that the colors of the overworld look a bit hyper saturated, but that might also be a result of my television being several years old, moved around a lot and kept in a storage locker for the better part of three years when I was overseas. Live and learn. But, as far as the functionality of the game outright, it’s damn near perfect.
Now, gameplay itself. Immortal Redneck is far, far removed from the more tactical and stressful shooters that have dominated the landscape in the past and feels more aligned with the berserker style that I grew up with. Each room, though technically randomized, is definitely pulled from a limited pool of room designs, and you’ll start to recognize patterns and remember layouts after a few runs. Enemies are varied with AI approaches, but they all boil down to “kill the redneck.” Since ammunition is limited, you’ll find there are few times where firing wildly and hoping for the best does anything good: you still need to at least try to line up your shot. But drops are plentiful, and you’ll often get health and bullet refills around the time when you need them. Sometimes they’re late. Like, way too late, and you’re dead or the bullets mean nothing because you threw your gun at the last monster in a last-ditch effort to stay alive. But the gold and cash is plentiful, which brings us to the skill tree and how that works towards bringing replayability to this game.
The skill tree is a semi-literal tree that slowly branches out and unlocks more advantages the more money you dump into it. You can buff your stats, make drops stronger, and even get some of those God favors that I mentioned in the prologue. The favors are really interesting, because they effectively change the way the Redneck plays as well as unlocking new weapons. Not every formation is a winner: some are inherently gimped by having stronger base stats but worse weapons, or more weapons but a limited jump ability. For me, the best thing was simply to get these god modes unlocked so that their weapons would drop throughout the pyramid. Additionally, you want to unlock the merchant as quickly as you can. It’s a daunting 1500 gold, and that’s no small feat, especially because you sacrifice all leftover gold on hand when you re-enter the pyramid. The permadeath style combined with the gold sacrifice makes for some interesting purchase strategies, not to mention incredible frustration when you die eight gold short of your next intended goal.
The best and worst part about the whole game are the scrolls. Unmarked scrolls will occasionally appear in treasure chests or drop from enemies, and they can do almost anything. Make you stronger, give you special sight, rob you of on hand gold, and worse. I got a scroll that made it so I couldn’t stop moving, and this was right before going into a room littered with spikes. To no one’s surprise, I died soon afterwards. Another scroll granted unlimited ammo to the on hand weapon but prohibited you from having any other weapon in your inventory. I really wish I had been holding something other than dynamite at the time, but at least the rest of the level was incredibly explosive. These scrolls are the true rogues in the entire roguelite setup, and they will absolutely rearrange any hope or clear path you had. In short, don’t avoid them, but be incredibly wary and consider all possibilities before you pick it up.
Immortal Redneck’s biggest testimony comes from the fact that I suffer extreme motion sickness from FPS games. It started when I got into my late 20s and has only gotten worse. The better the graphics, the harder it becomes for me. I really did my best with Infernium but ultimately could only play the game in five-minute spurts with about an hour of downtime in between. Immortal Redneck caused me to become borderline catatonic for ten minutes after a lengthy gameplay because I adamantly, stubbornly refused to acknowledge the signs that I was about to be very sick. Because I couldn’t stop playing, I wouldn’t stop. When you hit a good streak and end up with an AK-47, a grenade launcher and the Phoenix, and you’re already up to level three and the stairs are just right in front of you, nausea doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. You want to get to the top. You want to face the insanely OP boss with the massive weak point. And you want to unlock the other pyramids that are even more bizarre and difficult in their layouts because this game is FUN.
Immortal Redneck cares about things like hitboxes, life meters and bullets, but they don’t care about headshots, fall damage or any other silly thing like that. This game, this experience, cares about you having a damn good time and coming back for more. Crema saw the potential for something that keeps you hooked and they polished it to a topaz sheen in the Egyptian sun. Sure, maybe the Redneck uses the same quips a bit, but they’re not too repetitive and they are genuinely funny the first time I heard them. The enemies are organic to the world and the soundtrack is subtle but atmospheric. If you want a shooter that’s going to keep you hooked for weeks, not hours, then this is the right tomb to open.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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