Not a Hero is a unique pixelated shooter created by UK based indie developer Roll 7. You may recognize their work if you’ve played the popular skateboarding charmer Olli Olli. Originally released on Windows platforms back in May 2015, Not a Hero made its way to consoles this year. I was excited to get my hands on this game, because at first glance it reminded me of Hotline Miami, which I absolutely loved, so I had high hopes for this game. After playing I quickly realized that Not a Hero is not Hotline Miami, but that turned out to be a good thing.
Note: For the purpose of this review we are putting the PS4 version through our special brand of judgement.
Not a Hero’s story is not one that is meant to be taken seriously, at all. You work for a maniacal psychopath from the future named Bunny Lord, who is running for mayor. Yes, he is really a bunny who is purple and dressed in a suit. Bunny has a noble cause behind his pursuit: he aims to save the world from an upcoming alien invasion, by becoming mayor. He is one of the most comical and crooked characters I have ever had the pleasure of working with in a video game. Bunny has a team of hit men and women that work with him to further his agenda and eliminate anyone that stands in the way of his mission. You will quickly find that being viewed in a positive light by the public is Bunny’s first priority. From taking out drug lords execution style to escorting little old ladies that somehow know how to use sub machine guns get safely to their apartments, Bunny aims to prove his worth. Again, the story is not meant to be taken seriously and is littered with demented humor that will keep you entertained.
Not a Hero is a 2D side scrolling cover based shooter that can also be described as a violent bone crushing pixelated joy ride. You do not play as Bunny Lord, but you do get to choose from his assortment of hitmen and women that are absolutely outrageous. These characters have their own personalities and say the weirdest and sometimes most offensive things known to man. Also, each character has a varied assortment of skills at their disposal along with some weaknesses. Take for example Cletus, who carries a shotgun, can blow doors open, slide tackle enemies, but has slow reload speed. Don’t like Cletus? Then try Jesus on for size, who can shoot and slide, has a high rate of fire, and constantly performs a hip thrust motion. The game will start you off with one character and you will need to complete missions and side tasks within the mission in order to earn all of the characters. Once you have your character selected it’s time to kill some baddies and make Bunny Lord look good.
Bunny will have you on a mission to complete some devious deeds such as, executing informants and destroying weed plant production. Every single mission has you in a building going from one floor to another to complete your main objective, along with some silly side challenges. Some of these are actually very difficult, especially the ones with a time limit. This offers a nice challenge that slightly increases the replayability if you are a completionist. However, it quickly becomes a rinse, lather, repeat motion as the main missions and side quests are all basically the same with slight differences here and there. Cover will be your friend as this game is not as easy as it looks. You will need to slide in and out of cover as enemies will do the same. It is not a shooting gallery; enemies will move in on you very quickly if you stay in one place for too long, especially when they hear that you are out of ammo. Simple as it may seem, I never got tired of the core game play mechanics as I found it worked for this title and kept me interested all the way through. Not a Hero also performed smoothly for the most part, with slight frame rate dips here and there, but nothing that hindered gameplay occurred during my play through.
When thinking of the visuals in Not a Hero two words come to mind: pixelated glory. The art style is obviously paying homage to the old school 8 bit games that some of us older folks grew up on. This gamer was perfectly okay with playing in an 8 bit world, let me tell you. The color tone within the city of each level followed the same scheme for the most part, painting everything with dark green, dark purple (to match Bunny Lord’s color I assume), and light blue. Violence is as violence does, and even though it is pixelated the blood splatters in what appears to be full HD representing the violent tone of the game very well.
If you like drum thumping 80’s style music, you’ll love the soundtrack in this one. Even though I had some frustrating times trying to complete challenges or just getting killed, the funktafied beats kept me motivated. Some of the sound effects could use a little work in my opinion, in particularly with the gun fire which sounded a bit muffled. This could be what Roll 7 was going for since it is an 8 bit game. They may have wanted to fully go with sound effects to match the 8 bit them, but I still was not feeling it. However, the sounds that came from the take downs, executions, and melee attacks were on point, especially the sound of flesh being dispersed when you executed an enemy with a knife. I told you this game was violent, and for the most part it has the sound effects to match.
The number one reason why we play games is to have an enjoyable experience and Not a Hero provides just that. Overall, the gameplay kept me engaged and offered a formidable challenge even though the main missions did begin to get a bit repetitive. Being a fan of side scrolling pixelated games, I appreciated Not a Hero for its simplicity and commitment to offer a basic, and. often times. hilarious experience. For the price tag of $12.99 U.S. it is worth a buy in my humble, yet often correct, opinion.
Reviewer finished and/or played the game to such an extent to give an informed opinion on the game and its content.