The easiest way to judge a rogue-like or rogue-lite game is whether it remains fun each time you return to it. While I enjoy these genres, it’s no secret that the randomly generated level and item mechanics are often just a veil to increase replay value and quell repetition. A game like Quest of Dungeons managed to completely consume me until completion, while something like Tower of Guns never really captivated for more than an hour. These variances are the reason I never have high expectations for rogue-lites, and the reason why Immortal Redneck may be my biggest surprise game of 2018.
You play as a tourist who wakes up mummified in ancient Egypt after an accident. Your location is inescapable due to heavy sandstorms, which forces you to explore one of three large pyramids. When you start off, only one period is accessible. You begin on the first floor and must search rooms to find the staircase that leads to the next floor. You might find the staircase in the first minute or it may be one of the last rooms you stumble upon. The layout of each floor is random every time, once you enter a room the doors lock until you defeat all enemies inside. Each pyramid contains multiple floors that increase in difficulty (and reward) as you ascend along with 2 challenging boss fights. Fight your way through and search for the answers regarding your condition and whereabouts.
Immortal Redneck is a first-person shooter with a strong emphasis on running and jumping. It controls naturally to anyone familiar with the genre and thankfully it’s generous with jumping distances and your ability to climb onto ledges and platforms. This makes for incredibly fast run and gun gameplay that does not limit you to the ground. The weapons you start with depend on the character “favors” that you choose, which are unlocked from the skill tree as you progress. The way it works is simple: most enemies will drop either ammo, gold or meat, which is used as health. You collect as much gold as you can before you die, which might not take long when you start off. Upon death, you must spend your coins at the skill tree or merchant shop because you lose them when beginning a new run.
The skill tree is a literal tree that you can use to unlock new character favors, upgrade your abilities and learn new skills. You can opt to increase your attack power, defense, critical hit chance along with special abilities for each character. Interestingly, once you purchase a skill, the price of every other skill increases slightly. This makes choices very important, as eventually you will be forced to make difficult purchases to avoid wasting gold. As you purchase skills, more choices become available and everything gets more expensive. It’s all relative since your added strength leads to greater success in the pyramids and thus, more coins. The skill tree is implemented very well, and I spent many hours grinding coins to have all the character favors.
Depending on your preferred style of play, you will likely stick to a couple favors (characters) throughout your entire run. Each one has different stats, some more attack focused and others more defense focused, a special ability and begin their runs with specific weapons. Some abilities will give temporary invincibility, while my personal favorite is a hookshot that allows you to reach high platforms quickly. There is a cooldown period for these special abilities, so use them wisely. There are over 50 different weapons ranging from typical to just plain weird. You got a variety of pistols, rifles and explosives; but eventually you’ll discover something like a Polaroid camera the freezes enemies or a fireworks machine gun called The Fourth of July. Different weapons will appear in chests scattered across the pyramids, and you can always swap out one weapon for another. Which leads me to scrolls, a key factor in distinguishing how your run ultimately ends up.
While mostly good, scroll modifiers are occasionally dropped by enemies and found inside of chests. There are over 100 of them that range from increased damage when standing still, an illuminati friend who fights alongside you and even a turd that literally does nothing. You don’t know what the scroll is until you collect it, leading to a real sense of risk versus reward. Some of the bad scrolls will take away all your weapons but one or sacrifice 75% of your health for a gold bonus, among others. They are literal game changers and even after spending close to 20 hours playing, I still have not seen all of them.
Since the entire setting is Egypt themed, it’s only natural that the enemies are as well. You will see a nice variety of enemies ranging from small jumping frogs, a sarcophagus that expels tiny mummies and plenty more that I can’t quite name but clearly fit the theme. I was very happy to see a new set of enemies and rooms in the second pyramid; since spending 15 hours in pyramid one was getting old. When you reach a boss for the first time, you will likely die trying to figure out their attack patterns. This gives you a chance to cash in your gold for upgrades and start the entire process again. At the halfway point of the first pyramid you can unlock a medallion at the merchant that will start your run after the first boss. You can also choose to replay the pyramid with the same layout but no gold. These options are nice to have and will likely come into play when the skill tree is fully unlocked, and gold is no longer as important. Immortal Redneck does have an endgame and there are even achievements tied to beating the game with specific medallions (plague, cursed).
While the graphics engine isn’t likely to blow anyone away, Immortal Redneck has an appealing art style that runs smoothly. This is important when you have a bunch of enemies, explosions, pickups and movement on the screen at once. Each room varies with its layout and geometry, some with lava or foliage giving it a distinct color. What I found most impressive was that after spending hours in the same pyramid, I would still come across new rooms. The sound gets the job done, with satisfying weapon noises and one-liners from our protagonist. There are loading times at the beginning of the run and between each floor, but they were brief on my original Xbox One. It goes without saying that there is a lot of replay value in Immortal Redneck. With so many upgrades, characters to buy and three challenging pyramids, it will likely pay for itself (per hours played) before you ever reach the credits.
Immortal Redneck also has built in Mixer streaming support, which allows for audience participation. Instead of finding scrolls, the player is automatically given one every 3 minutes approximately. The Mixer chatroom audience can vote for one of three scrolls and whichever has the most votes is given to the player. This can be great when the chat is on your side, but terrible if they try to troll you with bad scrolls. While I may not use this feature much, I know there are plenty of streamers who love to involve their viewers in the game.
I was surprised how much enjoyment I got doing basically the same thing repeatedly. I entered the pyramid, slayed dozens of enemies, stole their gold, died, upgraded and did it all over again. I love how each run never felt like a failure, despite ending with death. Upgrading my character meant that the next run was that much easier, barring any terrible scrolls. If I had to change one thing about the game, I wish I didn’t have to lose all my leftover coins. I would love a way to bank them, even if a fraction of the total had to be sacrificed. I can see myself returning to Immortal Redneck for a long time, whether to farm coins or attempt to beat the entire game in one sitting. As a shooter, a platformer and rogue-lite, Immortal Redneck might be your next gaming addiction.