Roll7 take a break from their skateboards and OlliOlli to create a stylised, hyper violent platformer themed around getting a huge, time-travelling purple bunny elected as Mayor. With a twisted sense of humour and a penchant for the outrageous, how does it stack up against other titles with a similar premise?
Game: Not a Hero
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Reviewed on: PC (Review Code Provided)
The name “Bunnylord” doesn’t necessarily strike fear into the heart, does it? Well, in the world of Not a Hero, Bunnylord is hoping to become the mayor of London. The only thing is, Bunnylord’s methods in the way of winning over voters is somewhat unconventional. And by “somewhat unconventional”, I mean “extremely violent in taking out sections of the criminal underworld”. Bunnylord doesn’t carry out the majority of these hyper violent acts though. Instead, he hires people to join “Bunnylord’s Fun Club” alongside Steve, your starting character, to fill out a roster of 9 playable characters, each with unique traits (more accurate shooting, faster movement, different weapons etc). These range from the aforementioned cockney thugSteve, past the smooth talking Clive, to Jesus. No, “not the one from the bible, but a hyper sexualised Spaniard in pink spandex”
In terms of gameplay, Not a Hero is, for want of a better term, what you’d get if Hotline Miami was filmed from the side, but with a heavier emphasis on finding cover. It’s an obvious comparison to make due to the art style and extreme nature of the violence contained within, but it’s not a bad thing by any stretch. The major difference, beside the side scrolling, is that you start with a weapon and you stick with it throughout. There are power-ups that help to pimp out your firepower and get you through each tower block themed level.
Overall, the shooting and movement mechanics feel solid, and it’s a good job, as the game will, much like its Miami-based pseudo-counterpart, kick the crap out of you if you make a mistake. Unlike Hotline, however, there is regenerating health and it’s a bit more lenient in the amount of bullets you can take. It allows for a nice change of pace every now and then as you recover and plan your next move up a flight of stairs to another room full of armed-to-the-teeth pixelated thugs. There were a few frustrating moments with the controls that I felt were unfair (eg shooting to the right suddenly switching to the left and getting killed) but for the most part, if you die it’s your fault.
To keep things fresh, the 21 levels are split across three distinct areas. The first feels quite industrial, the second is primarily based around a British Tower Block, and the third has a definite Chinatown feel to it. Each area introduces new enemy types and different environmental aspects, as well as providing you with plenty of cannon fodder. At the end of each area, Bunnylord will join you and attempt to assert his floppy-eared dominance over the area’s criminal overlord. As well as your primary objective, there are 3 secondary ones to go after, some of which will be randomised (Mainly the collection based ones, which will mix up the items you need to pick up). If you hit all three optional objectives, you will gain a higher rank for Bunnylord to achieve amongst the electorate, ranging from Mayor to Global Megalord. The more of these you achieve, the quicker you unlock the members of Bunnylord’s Fun Club.
Each level is punctuated with a subtitled cutscene with Bunnylord outlining his plans for the next mission, or spinning the carnage you’ve just unleashed into something positive for the election campaign. The humour that exists in these cutscenes is British through and through, with genuine laugh out loud moments interspersed with subtle yet brilliant points, including a few entries on the mission briefing slides that had me grinning.
The best way to describe Not a Hero is basically “Hotline Miami meets The Raid”. A colourful, brutal and hilarious take on the 2(and a quarter)D shooter, it’s a great 4 to 5 hour long experience that will leave you amused, enthralled, and wondering why every election can’t be as fun and engaging as the quest to get Bunnylord elected. Y’know, until you remember all the murdering.