When my friends from the gaming community began telling me how excited they were for a game by the name of Immortal Redneck I promptly raised my eyebrows and scowled accordingly. As a lifelong resident of the Appalachian Mountains I have come to develop quite a distaste for the term “redneck”, and that disdain for the term led to me coming up with some pretty lofty assumptions about the game before I even laid eyes upon a gameplay trailer. Despite my apprehensiveness about a game that I was sure was going to dedicate itself to mocking my very personhood, I gave Immortal Redneck a go. Spoiler alert: I’m glad I did.
There’s some pretty standard stereotypes that are bundled with the term “Redneck”. Primarily that they are unapologetically loud Americans that love guns and steak and speak with a strong, twangy drawl. Immortal Redneck does not hold back on these stereotypes when it comes to their protagonist, unfortunately. After crashing in the sandy dunes of Egypt, our titular hero – The Redneck – finds himself awakening inside of a sarcophagus. Properly mummified and wrapped in bandages, the Redneck must take on each of the three pyramids before him. Each pyramid’s layout is procedurally generated, with the lower floors being quite expansive with only a few enemies per room while the upper levels become more compact. The player and thus the Redneck must navigate the labyrinth that is each pyramid, mowing down more than thirty five different enemy variants as they ascend to the apex. Halfway up the pyramid players will run into their first mini boss, with a second boss lurking at the very top. Should the Redneck fail before reaching the apex of the pyramid, he will begin anew by waking up in the sarcophagus again.
Taking down the hordes of enemies inside the pyramid rewards the player with random drops. Enemies can drop gold, steaks that boost health, the occasional weapon, or special scrolls that grant the player a menagerie of abilities. Not all scrolls are positive, so player beware. For every scroll that grants a heal or grants the Redneck a double jump there is another that can curse him by decreasing damage or inflicting injury for jumping. As Immortal Redneck is essentially a roguelite, death inside the pyramid is permanent. Any progress toward the apex, weapons, or special scrolls that are acquired are all lost upon death. Players do get to keep the gold that is acquired and take it with them to the hub world, however. Here they can approach a skill tree and purchase additional health or bonus upgrades. Even better, there is the ability to purchase the favor of the gods. These god characters serve as extra classes, and each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as default loadout. There are nine gods available over all, offering a healthy variety of possibilities, and increasing the chance to find a loadout that best suits the players individual gameplay preferences. After spending their gold at the skill tree, and later the available marketplace, players can then tackle the pyramid again – for a price. Any remaining gold the player may have following their spending spree must be sacrificed to the gods before entering the pyramid again. Spend wisely, or you may find yourself frustrated at how much gold you’ve wasted between runs.
For all intents and purposes, each run into the pyramid feels like a new opportunity. This is the run, I would tell myself as I approached the entrance. If the scrolls fall just right, if the gods keep me in their favor, just maybe I can make it to the top this time. Because of its roguelite roots, Immortal Redneck’s pyramids are different every time you enter them, which can prevent the player from memorizing any one particular floor layout (though there is an item in the shop that can force the game to keep the previous layout on your next run. If you can afford it.). Early in the game, every run has the potential to help you improve. Skills and additional gods are available at a relatively low price tag, so you don’t have to make it far to feel like you’ve helped improve yourself for the next attempt. This comes to a grinding halt, however, later in the game when skills and upgrade prices take a sharp turn toward the ‘high end’ side. Should a run end before you’ve collected enough gold to afford an upgrade then frustration can seep in as you approach the pyramid and watch all your hard earned coins go to waste because they just weren’t enough.
Despite its reliance on typical redneck stereotypes and tropes for comedic effect, Immortal Redneck really is a solid gaming experience. The melodic, Egyptian inspired soundtrack is heavily juxtaposed with a twangy rock and roll vibe that blends together surprisingly well and helps set the tone. The Redneck’s voice acting is well done in most regards, although the countrified drawl does sound a little forced at times. As both a roguelite and shooter the gameplay is solid and effective. I did find myself longing fo the ability to aim down sights, though. I rarely felt as if a run ended for any reason other than because I made mistakes. Any qualms I felt about my dissatisfaction at the use of the term and characterization of the “redneck” were easily overshadowed by the genuine enjoyment in the gameplay itself.