Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform Reviewed: PC
Release date: 14/05/2015
If, like me, you saw the screenshots for Not a Hero and thought, ‘yea, it’s another pixel art shooter, I’ve seen this before’, you can be easily forgiven if you wanted to give this title a miss. Pixel art is cheap and because of this the games industry is flooded with titles which use this graphical style. So what was it which caught my attention? Why choose to play this over the slew of other titles which all bare the same guise?
Well, when I see the Devolver Digital name attached to a project I immediately sit up and take notice. There is an air of quality which surrounds most of the games they choose to publish, an honest and genuine wish to entertain and I find it very difficult to resist their charms. So, with that being said, I wanted to know a little more.
The storyline is utterly ridiculous in the best possible way. Bunnylord is a time travelling rabbit type creature who has travelled from the future in a hope to prevent an apocalypse. If he is to succeed, then he must be elected Mayor and the election is only a month away. To guarantee his success he employs a gang of psychopathic misfit mercenaries and this is where we come in.
Playing as one of these anti-heroes it’s our job to clean up the city streets and by any means necessary (which will involve lots of blood, bullets and foul language). Each level consists of one main objective and a couple of bonus challenges, such as completing an objective within a certain time limit or by finding particular hidden items. Some of these can be genuinely difficult, but they are worth persevering with, each completed objective increases Bunnylord’s approval rating which unlocks new characters, there are nine in total, each with their own distinct personality and abilities.
You start the game with Steve, a pistol touting cockney. Steve is brash and cocky, has decent aim and his gun holds reasonable amount of ammo, a decent all-rounder. It won’t be long before you will unlock Cletus, a whisky swilling Scotsman, armed with a devastating shotgun, he will need to reload often, but with considered use he can make easy work of clearing a room. Each of the nine characters are a fabulous stereotype and all ooze personality, helped in no small part by the excellent voice acting. The insults fly nearly as often as the bullets, each time bringing a smile to my face. It maybe vulgar, but it is funny.
Not a Hero starts off relatively relaxed, but the difficulty soon ramps up and our band of psychotic mercenaries are going to need more than their trusty side arm if they hope to earn a paycheque. Thankfully each level is garnished with random ammo improvements, such as exploding rounds or flammable bullets, these are finite items, only to be used sparingly, but can often make the difference between life and death. There are also various types of grenades which can collected, my favourite of which is the cat bomb. Send this ball of cuteness towards a group of enemies and they we will be transfixed, they will forget all about you, lost in the eyes of this adorable kitty as our feline friend detonates an eviscerates the lot of them.
As it seems with most 2D pixel shooters, you are not very strong and can be easily dispatched if you are not careful. It is great fun to race about slaying everything that gets in your way, but you won’t last long if you do. Sometimes a silent approach is needed, get close enough to the enemy and his head can be removed with one simple shot, if you are spotted though it’s best to jump into cover and time your shots accordingly. Or you can run towards them, slide, knocking them off their feet and close in for a quick and bloody melee kill. On the whole this works well, but when the action gets a little too intense it can be a little awkward. The slide and cover mechanic are mapped to the same button so it is easy to get into a bit of mess. This doesn’t happen too often though and with a little practise and by learning the layout of each level, it can be avoided almost entirely.
So, would I recommend Not a Hero? Absolutely. If you can imagine the charm and look of say, Broforce mixed with the violence and insanity of Hotline Miami and throw a hide and seek cover system into the mix you are on your way to understanding what this game is like to play. Yes, the plot is ridiculous and the violence and vulgar language is a little over the top, but that’s the reason why I love it. It does get quite difficult and there is very little replay value and I don’t care, when a game is as fun as this it really doesn’t matter. If you are easily offended by stereotypes or the excessive use of profanity, then maybe Not a Hero isn’t for you, the rest of us however, vote Bunnylord.
- Wonderfully ridiculous
- Fast action
- Gorgeous and gory
- Fantastic soundtrack and voice acting
- Humour may not be to everyone’s taste
- Controls can be a little awkward
Score – 8/10
Reviewer – Ian P.