Not a Hero

Not a Hero

Written by Jeremy Duff on 2/2/2016 for PS4  
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Since 2016 is an election year, it is only fitting that a game with a political tone be released. However, even though the subject of an election is center stage in Not a Hero, I don’t think that this is exactly the type of politics the American people are used to seeing. If they were like this game, then things might be a little more cut and dried than our current political environment.

Not a Hero is all about the election campaign of the great and knowing BunnyLord, a mayoral candidate from the future who claims to hold the key to staving off the pending apocalypse. If you are willing to do what needs to be done to get him elected, he claims he can save the world. As for for what exactly he needs you to do, that involves ending the world of a few other people (but they’re all bad guys, so it’s okay).

BunnyLord enlists the help of a variety of anti-heros in order to clean up the streets and spread his message by any means necessary. You’re going to go on a combination Death Wish/political campaign through the city in order to put an end to crime and "persuade" people to vote for the strange, purple-headed rabbit. The better you do at completing your assigned tasks and missions, the higher BunnyLord’s approval rating goes, taking him closer to the office of mayor.

If I were to compare the game to anything, it would have to be something like a side-scrolling version of Hotline Miami as it uses the same 8-bit visual aesthetic. Also, there is the fact that the goal of the game is delivering swift, murderous justice from one level to the next. However, your arsenal is a bit more limited in this game. Your character has a primary weapon and up-close execution attacks at their disposal. While you’ll collect modifiers for your ammunition to improve its effectiveness, your character’s core weapon never changes. There are some secondary weapons such as grenades or deployable turrets that can be found throughout the stages as well. The lack of variety in your arsenal is intentional, as this isn’t meant to be a tactical ramp through the various stages; you’re supposed to tear through them all, guns blazing.

The other big tool at your disposal is the game’s cover system. By simply pressing a button, your character will run behind the next object that can provide cover for him. It works well most of the time, but if you are halfway between two objects it is very hard to dictate a specific cover. Most times, when you're in a pinch, it seems the game picks the one that you don’t want to use. Once you are in cover, you can wait it out for your opponents to empty their clips and take shots at them while they reload, or dash to the next coverable position. Using cover is key to succeeding in every level, so master it early on.

Aside from the cover, there isn’t much in terms of interactivity with the environments. You can jump out of windows and shoot some flammable objects in the environment, but sadly, mostly everything else is just there for decoration. You won’t be able to pick up enemy guns or fling furniture and objects across the room at anyone to knock them loopy for a moment of vulnerability. It would have been very cool if you were able to, as there are plenty of objects around that are just begging to be used.

As you complete levels and side goals, you earn access to additional characters. Side goals consist of things like finishing a level under a certain amount of time or collecting specified objects during your run. Some are realitvely simple to accomplish; others require a bit of exploration and studying of the level. The characters that you get all play pretty much the same on the surface, but they all have vastly different personalities, and each one has a special trait or ability to make them more effective in given situations. One character may give you the ability to reload while moving. Another may allow you to shoot through closed doors at enemies on the other side. None of these variations really make the overall completion of the game any easier, but I do find them key in picking off some of the side goals.

Once things get moving, the gameplay flows in a fast and frantic manner. You’ll smash out of the windows of one building and crash into those of another, filling thugs and drug dealers will bullets. This provides a nice balance of hectic versus calculated action. It’s really enjoyable to see things come together once you learn the layout and flow of a level. However, it might take you a little bit to get to that point. The levels are designed to promote replayability, although the lack of weapon variety makes things a little repetitive.

Between all of the missions, the game is filled with a dark, witty brand of humor that fits BunnyLord’s personality perfectly. Be warned: it is clear to see the developer’s UK background in the humor. Some of the banter and phrasing may go over a player’s head as a lot of British slang and humor is used. After a while, it does all become a bit too heavy. I started skipping through the dialogue just to get to the action.

As a whole, Not a Hero proves to be developer Roll7's followup to the OlliOlli series. While it is a vast departure from the pixelated skateboarding adventure, it still provides a fast-paced and accessible experience that values fun over everything else. You will get frustrated and die lot, but at the same time, you also find yourself driven to go back and figure out the quickest and most efficient runs through these stages. It almost becomes a bit of a speedrunning-type of experience, and it is incredibly beautiful to see in action when it all comes together, albeit in an incredibly morbid sort of way. Don’t hesitate to take up BunnyLord’s cause on the PS4.

Fast and frantic, Not a Hero provides some serious satisfaction when things are running on all cylinders. There’s nothing lack diving through windows and taking out bad guys, even if it is classic 8-bit sprites. The humor feels a bit forced at times, but the action wins out in providing a ton of fun.

Rating: 8 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).

I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).

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