Review Your Wallet, and Buy It.
By Ben Nunn
I usually get a little cautious about Indie games, even though the waters have been warm for a long time now, I still hesitate to dip the tea bag and take the leap of faith. But it’s indie games like these that make me confident to keep trying them, and try I did. NOT A HERO probably found its legs faster thanks to well-known publisher, Devolver Digital, not to mention that Roll7, the developer, also has the highly regarded side-scrolling action skater title ‘OlliOlli’ under their belt. But what actually caught my attention was the trailer. Roll7 presented the game with humour, and a don’t-give-a-damn attitude, right off the bat, and I like that. So I opened my Velcro-flap wallet, ruffled through the pile of suffocated moths and gathered my year’s savings, to give this game a shot.
NOT A HERO leaves no questions about its purpose. It’s an action-packed, explosion-causing, gun-shooting, neck-snapping, brain-stabbing……. Election campaign. Yep, that’s right, forget House of Cards, that’s for the weak, get up from that couch, and sit down on a chair, and take matters into your own hands. You take control of Steve, a professional assassin turned amateur campaign manager. Steve is charged with cleaning up the city by an anthropomorphic rabbit and mayoral candidate from the future named BunnyLord. If you haven’t seen any trailers or images yet, yes, BunnyLord is in fact, a bunny.
With the plot out of the way, you might be ready to expect some light-hearted, murderous fun, and you’d be right. The goal of each level is to complete the objective, and escape, simple format, but the developers have managed to flesh it out with a set of 3 different challenges to complete each level. You can pass the levels without doing these, but to get 100%, you’re going to want to do them. These challenges consist of things like, performing a certain amount of executions, not getting hit more than 5 times, or even collecting special items. Along with challenges, as you progress, you unlock new characters to join BunnyLord’s retinue of street-justice assassins. Each character has their own advantages and disadvantages, meaning there is a learning curve for each, giving you new ways to play each time. Lucky for this, otherwise there is no replay value, besides stress relief. With a total of 9 unlockable characters, means you can at least play the game 9 times through before you’ve done everything, and it’s not a long game by any means. The game splits up its three chapters into 21 levels, each of which can be completed in around 3 to 10 minutes, depending on your skill. This is something I don’t normally mind with indie games, and at $16.79, I’m not too let down. Each chapter sends you through the ranks of a different gang. From Russian Mobsters, Drug dealers, and Yakuza, you’ll get faced with a small variety of different enemies to kill, following the stock standard of, weak attack with low defence, fast attack with medium defence, and devastating but slow attack with high defence, enemies. However this formula gets played with throughout.
In a game that lets you slide around, jump through multi-story windows, and shank people in the neck like Jason Statham, it just wouldn’t work unless the controls were spot on, and once again Roll7 have pulled through. The controls are sharp, responsive, quick to learn and quick to master. You’ll be stomping pixelated mobster head into the ground with the greatest of ease in no time. For my play through, I used a game controller, and I do recommend a controller if you have one, true crime fighters sit back and relax while they blow legs off drug dealers.
The art style of this game is comparable to a hybrid of Atari 2600 pixel formation and good old 16-bit. But even still, Roll7 didn’t skimp on the gory details. The graphics are done well, and won’t have you squinting to make out objects on screen. The games music is forgettable, it merges into the background but that’s not to say that if it wasn’t there you wouldn’t notice. The music does change throughout, but you won’t notice, its mostly generic 8-bit MIDI hard-core melodies, to help create a feeling of urgency, and to nurture your lust for merciless killings. Voice acting is important in games, when games have voice acting, this one doesn’t. Well, not beyond crude one-liners from the playable characters. As for BunnyLord, if you can remember what it felt like to listen the character from Banjo-Kazooie whose voice you hated the most, go through chapters of dialogue, then that can sum up listening to BunnyLord for one line. I hope you like the sound of rubber on dry glass, because you’ll be in for a treat.
All in all NOT A HERO is a fun, light-hearted action game, which deserves your attention. It has replay value, unlockable characters, level challenges, and of course, lots of violence. It is a short and repetitive game, but it makes up for it by being fast paced and straight-up fun. I’m disappointed however by what I feel is missed potential, this game could easily incorporate co-op, and PvP arena battles and races. I hope Roll7 sees the potential to expand upon this title in the future. But for now, I don’t think the price tag is too bad for what you get, but for those of you still a little unsure, if it ever goes on sale, don’t miss your chance. This game will put a smile on your face, just don’t let someone see you smiling while playing it.
Available now on Steam. Coming soon to PS4 and PSVita.