Wednesday, May 9

Review: Immortal Redneck [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The roguelike has absolutely taken the indie scene by storm over the years. Less a genre and more of what I’d call a gameplay catalyst, the theoretically endless variety of what is possible with well-made roguelikes is very appealing as it opens the door to games you never truly finish as they’re different every time. Typically, roguelikes have been associated with some sort of action RPG of sorts or twin-stick shooter, but to this point I’ve not seen someone tackle what I’d consider the very ripe first-person shooter genre with it. That all changes with the release of Immortal Redneck, and for it being the first attempt I’ve seen it gets quite a lot right.


In terms of overall style of play I’d say that the FPS Immortal Redneck reminds me of most would be Serious Sam. While not the most visually lush title on the block it’s fluid, feels pretty good once you get the hang of it, and makes for some fun once you begin throwing down. Most of the enemies are some variant of what you’d expect with the Egyptian theming but many of them are also a bit on the silly side. That’s no matter, your character’s dialogue that sits on top of the experience is heavily tongue-in-cheek and goofy, so overall at least everything is roughly consistent. The collection of weaponry can be almost as odd as your enemies with weapons ranging from standard to referential (who knew Gordon Freeman lost a crowbar in ancient Egypt?) to downright silly. In your runs you’ll also often encounter scrolls which have a wide variety of effects, some positive and others not so good. In general, you’ll need to balance your desire to explore and find every value added benefit you can, just realize that the more rooms you explore the more likely you’ll run into something decidedly more lethal. Since the bosses you’ll eventually encounter truly mean business you’ll need to consider trying to find everything you can if you hope to defeat them.


While it can be rough going at first (a consistent roguelike trait) the good news is that with some moderate successes in between runs you’ll be able to begin upgrading your character. With a skill upgrade tree reminiscent of the classic Rogue Legacy, at a basic level you’re able to begin giving your base build more health, increased damage, etc. But, if you’ve managed to collect quite a bit of gold you’ll then be able to invest in new alternative builds that change your active and passive abilities, as well as alter your starting loadout. This really allows you to tune the game to match your play style, though putting together the coins to unlock some of these can take some work or at least luck. Keep in mind that whatever you aren’t able to spend in the shop you’ll immediately lose at the start of your next run so be sure to be mindful of what you have and what things cost since you may be able to get more bang for your buck on more than one upgrade instead of buying only one and then wasting more gold. While the further you get into upgrades the higher your base amount of gold earned per run needs to rise, in theory these should generally track well with each other, maximizing your opportunities to get a bit more formidable if you’re finding you need that extra “Oomph” in your game.


Probably the biggest issue in the game, aside from it simply being difficult, revolves around the controls. While they’re pretty fair, and among FPSs I’ve played with a controller the aiming isn’t too shabby, the two biggest problems I have are somewhat interrelated in that they combine to be a pain at times. First is the fact that the movement, overall, is a bit on the floaty side. You can compensate for this to a degree but there’s a certain level of drunkenness to things. Where this comes to a head ties to the second problem and that is the fact that there are periodically platforming aspects for you to deal with. In order to try to help you out the game has an edge grab, but that never feels 100% consistent. The worst, though, is when you’re trying to hop onto a series of smaller platforms with some mild spacing between them. Here the floaty stopping exacerbates the fact that first-person jumping puzzles, as a rule, pretty well suck when they involve precision. Throw in enemies firing on you to distract you further and it can be a bit of a mess. Thankfully they at least had the sense to turn off fall damage so you’ll only be wasting your time and potentially patience on this, not also actively killing yourself.


As a whole package Immortal Redneck is a bold first step and demonstrates that the FPS genre, too, can definitely benefit from the addition of roguelike elements. As you unlock your skill tree you won’t feel quite as helpless and will hopefully stumble into a starting configuration that helps you kick some ass in earnest. When you’re just in the zone and shooting things up for the most part everything feels good, it’s really only when you have to try to complete some jumping puzzles that things start to unravel. The good thing is that in any given run you may not notice the problem almost at all since everything is generated procedurally, just when you need to do some jumping and have enemies coming at you at the same time that it can feel a bit unfair. I look forward to more attempts on this formula as it shows a great deal of potential for further fun.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • In general the procedural level generation works well
  • The ability to tweak stats and unlock new builds helps to keep you coming back for more
  • A wide array of weapons ranging from obvious all the way to somewhat silly, and don’t forget to try out melee weapons as well!

Cons:
  • Somewhat floaty movement
  • First-person jumping puzzles absolutely blow, especially when being fired at and with floaty controls
  • Depending on you skill level you may reach a plateau where you can’t quite earn enough coins on a run to keep upgrading