An age or so ago there was a time when one would wander into a game store and judge a prospective purchase by the quality of the cover art on its packaging. Did it look cool? Were there allusions towards untold violence? A real book by its cover scenario. Smash cut to today and with the world of indie games existing mostly in the digital space it all comes down to the title, some screens, a trailer, and perhaps a description or a tagline. Which is a round about way of saying that naming something Immortal Redneck is bound to grab my attention.
Not in a meaningful way, but in just how silly it sounds. Surely, something called Immortal Redneck wouldn’t really be worth taking seriously. Well, in a surprising case of “this, I gotta see” Immortal Redneck turned out to be quite the charmer. An engrossing rogue-lite along the lines of Rogue Legacy, mixed with the old school action of an Unreal Tournament or Serious Sam.
Now, one could argue that Immortal Redneck does nothing new. But, to quote this one dude I met one day who was wearing a black skivvy, John Lennon style circular glasses, and smoking a cigarette – “Like, man. Nothing is original, we’re all particles in a swirl of repetition.” Fun guy. Anyway, the premise for Immortal Redneck is this – a, err, denizen of the southern parts of the United States decides to go on a vacation and see the world. Egypt to be exact. Where he gets a vehicle of some sort and goes hunting. In the desert. There he stumbles on or comes across ancient forces, gets cursed, and becomes a mummy forced to engage with the supernatural forces of the netherworld. For some reason.
There are pyramids too.
So far, so silly. Really though it’s the sort of premise that is flimsy and charming enough to reinforce the setting, aesthetic, and underlying mechanics. Ancient Egypt by the way of a bright and colourful rogue-lite.
Playing Immortal Redneck is all about completing runs and character progression. With three pyramids to conquer, every time you enter one you’re presented with a seemingly random layout. Lower floors are bigger, as is in accordance with the general shape of a pyramid, with the overall goal being to reach the apex and defeat the boss. Each room you enter you’ll need to clear before moving on, where the fast-paced FPS mechanics and combat within takes on an old-school flair. Along the way you’ll face the deadly monsters and creatures that stalk the halls, collect gold, new weapons, and scrolls that will either provide a buff or de-buff specific to the current run you’re on.
If you die, no problem. You’ll respawn outside with access to a skill tree where you can buy upgrades or even new characters. Which is where the main comparisons to Rogue Legacy come into play. In the sense that Immortal Redneck borrows liberally from that game – right down to the overall pacing of progression. Increased health or defence, or crit chance and crit damage. New upgrades get progressively more expensive the more you buy, as will new characters and stuff like the benefits from health pick-ups.
Like with Rogue Legacy it’s the sort of setup that is built around repetition, and as you come to terms with enemy attack patterns, movement, and overall combat flow your character’s stats will progress alongside your own skill. It’s a deeply nuanced system, where new characters modelled after Egyptian gods will feature different base-stats, weapons, and special abilities in a style not dissimilar to a hero shooter. If you decide to go the route of a highly defensive character with minimal damage output, then upgrades to damage might be more worthwhile than buffing health. The inverse is also true.
Beyond the setup, Immortal Redneck is, well, fun to play. Levels and rooms are well designed with plenty of variation, verticality, and strategy. Jumping can happen at any moment, whilst falling or running past a ledge to reach a new platform. A small touch that showcases the care and attention placed on combat flow, simplicity, and an overall lack of frustration. Action is fluid and smooth, with simple yet endearing visuals that are more cartoon than say, Assassin’s Creed Origins. To name the only other Egypt-set game that comes to mind.
The scroll system, of which there are seemingly countless, adds variety to the repetition. Throughout the course of a run you could have several buffs ranging from damage boosts to enemies that explode on death to even additional jumps and insane speed bonuses. On the flip side a scroll pick-up could add a negative effect like the removal of the crosshair or stripping away all weapons bar one. Coupled with the random floor layouts it means no two runs ever feel the same. And once you get strong enough, with the right medallion you can even begin a new run half-way through to cut out the lower floor grind.
It’s not perfect though, as even though there are several weapons to unlock and find along the way, a lot of them feel undercooked. Plus, some of the boss mechanics lean a little too heavily on the side of increasingly more difficult patterns to learn. That being said, it’s still worth checking out. Immortal Redneck is the sort of game that seemingly comes out of nowhere, where initial curiosity leads to hours of fun. For fans of old school shooters and the rouge-lite setup of games like Rogue Legacy then it’s well worth equipping Grandpa’s Blunderbuss and venturing into a pyramid filled with adorable but dangerous snakes and flying skulls.