While implementing rogue-like (or light) elements into most genres has been a cinch, some have long resisted any effort to connect the two. First Person Shooters are at the top of that particular list, rarely managing to strike the exact balance needed between engaging risk, firepower and unpredictability, despite a few good efforts like Tower of Guns. However, Crema seem to have finally nailed it with Immortal Redneck, which mixes sheer insanity with rampant firepower to create something truly exciting.
The very name should suggest the sort of experience you’re going to get. You play as a redneck who is accidentally zombified by ancient arcane means, and spends his time fighting ancient Egyptian mystic forces. It’s an excuse plot to be sure, but it proves to be an utterly hilarious one at every turn. The game repeatedly pokes fun at its very concept, but by doing so it can get away with far more creative ideas than many other experiences. Rather than the expected mix of sword wielding zombie or the odd floating sorcerer, you can find sarcophagi unleashing mini-mummies as suicide troops, ancient Egyptian lasers and gigantic toothy attack toads. Even the more standard foes have a creative flare to them, and this proves to be a massive breath of fresh air, favouring a more Serious Sam approach over just plain serious combat.
Even the environments repeatedly prove to be a cut above the norm, taking into account your enhanced agility. Rather than being completely locked to the ground, upgrades allow you to wall-run, and hurtle across the map Doom style, strafing foes or leaping into the fray at a moment’s notice. The sheer speed of this astounding after so many Call of Duty inspired slow-paced outings, and despite any initial concerns, your rapid pace never makes the game easy in any way. In fact, Crema use it mostly as an excuse to pile on far more foes than any game would think sane for any single battle.
Of course, a wide variety of undead magical figures can only take you so far, and you need plenty of firepower to keep you hooked. Thankfully, Immortal Redneck supplies you with far, far more than just your starting shotgun, building up to an arsenal which is as creative and diverse as any Turok sequel. Magic items and totems? There’s an ankh which shoots angular projectiles and a sword which launches energy blasts with every swing. Conventional firepower? There are several guns which are big enough to simply blow enemies in half. Insane science fiction devices? You can pick up what’s effectively a proton pack on steroids partway through the game.
The “light” element here stems largely from the upgrade system. You will die time and time again to the random traps, enemies and changing layout, but there’s always a chance for more upgrades. For everything you lose, there’s some item in the store which you can pick up, permanently buffing your character. It’s a nice ledge on the sheer difficulty curve of being repeatedly slaughtered, giving you the sense that you are earning something despite dying so very many times as you progress forwards.
With all this said, Immortal Redneck does stumble into the same old problem most rogue-lights have difficulty avoiding. You will notice after some time that certain rooms are little more than copy/paste jobs of one another, and because of this a few of the more infuriating elements tend to lose their appeal after just a few hours. Given the game’s creative concepts and colourful build, it’s disappointing to think “Oh, it’s this again” upon stumbling into the wrong room. This is especially true of any environment which requires you to leap between platforms over bottomless pits, which can be this game’s single biggest killer.
The actual problems behind the game are mere flaws which hold it back from perfection, and even with them this remains an excellent FPS experience. This is easily one of the most creatively insane shooters the gaming industry has seen in years. After all, where else are you going to play as an electric flamethrower wielding zombified hick fighting mummies? Watch the trailer, take a look at the enemies, and if you’re the slightest bit interested, grab a copy immediately.
IMMORTAL REDNECK / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: CREMA / PLATFORMS: MICROSOFT WINDOWS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW