Vote or Die! The best shoot-the-bad-guy-in-the-face simulator I’ve ever played
Upon my first impressions of Not a Hero, UK based developer Roll 7’s new cover-based shooter, it looks like the bloodiest Atari game you’ve never seen. The music and graphics are very retro, but there is a lot more depth to Not a Hero than the aesthetic. The presentation is quite charming and the premise is insane.
You begin the game as Steve, a murder-for-hire bloke picked up by Bunnylord, an anthropomorphic rabbit looking to get elected into office. His campaign strategy? Shoot all the bad guys in the face. Some levels have you shooting bad guys in the face, others have you shooting different guys in the face, but it’s not as run-and-gun as it sounds. The gameplay revolves around a two dimensional screen with many objects you can slide in and out of for cover. If you’re close enough to an enemy you can even perform executions. There’s a very specific third person shooter title you may be thinking of, and it certainly wasn’t what I expected upon entering the game. It took a few seconds to get used to the slide into cover mechanic, but it is essential to lock down or you’ll be choking on bullets faster than you can say bang.
Every level in the game has a main goal and three optional goals that boost Bunnylord’s approval rating. The higher the rating the more characters you unlock. Each character has its own set of unique abilities, be it reloading while moving, different speeds and weapons, pelvic thrusts and more. Not a Hero pokes the perfectionist nerve in me and it made an already difficult game quite a bit more challenging. Sure, you can finish the main objective and move forward but until those extras are met. I have a lot of mixed feelings on the goals. On one hand, they make each level a totally different experience as to how you’ll move forward. If they didn’t exist the game may start to feel stale as you play for a few hours. The trouble with some of the goals is they don’t feel as much of a challenge as they feel like a limit. Sometimes I want to run full speed into a room and blast away or meticulously explore the scenery for secrets but there’s often a time limit or even a bullet count you’re trying to stay under. There was nothing more relieving than coming across a level that allows you to slowly work your way through it, which is strange for a game about shooting bad guys in the face. Some of these goals were charming, however. In one level I was on the silliest excuse for an escort quest getting Bunnylord’s Aunt to her tenth floor apartment. As expected the building was full of bad guys who needed their faces shot. The twist was that the old lady didn’t take damage and was also really amazing with a gun despite how slow she moved and her constant mumbling the entire level.
I started to realize upon playing Not a Hero the game is almost more a puzzle than an action game. There are many different ways to solve the puzzle, such as shooting bad guys in the face, but how you do that and in what order is something you’ll start to realize. Every level took me many times to play and despite knowing exactly what you’re supposed to do, you still need to be skilled enough to execute the plan. Outside of the graphics and sound the unforgiving difficulty was the most retro part of the game. In one level I had to rescue hostages. If you come through the front door they get shot immediately so you have to find a way around in order to complete it. I had to cross between two buildings back and forth in order to find the other entrances to the rooms. There is no jumping, either, so in order to cross you have to find a room with a higher platform than a nearby window and slid your way across and bust through the glass.
There are nice little touches to the aesthetics as well such as the voice acting and interchangeable objects on certain goals. The voice acting is well done and different for every character, all of them having little attitudes and silly quips based on what’s happening. Bunnylord sounds like an adult from a Peanuts cartoon but his subtitles are usually just as dark and silly as the concept of the game. Once I left a level and came back to it later I realized the collect-a-thing goals would change having funny results. In one level the original intention was to collect some robots but for some reason when I went back in the goal was to collect all the cakes.
Not a Hero is a very good game. I’m still pulling my hair out to finish all the goals but it’s something I’m willing to smash a few controllers to finish. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a retro action shooter featuring modern cover mechanics I’d say you’re looking for something very specific. Not a Hero is a funny and gory blast. Vote Bunnylord all the way. Not a Hero manages to elect 4 shots to the face out of 5.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Devolver Digital; Developer: Roll 7; Players: 1; Price: $12.99;Released: May 14, 2015