Roll7’s latest title doesn’t delay in getting straight to the point, so neither does this review. Not a Hero is a humorous romp through a smart premise made utterly engrossing by its superbly conceived and executed gameplay.
At its core, Not A Hero is a side-scrolling cover-based shooter with a satirical slant – and it’s utterly brilliant. Refined to the point where playing it becomes effortless, Roll7 have crafted a game that manages to draw you in for another play over and over again. When you then throw in a delicious, trendy pixelated art style, a delightfully catchy soundtrack, sublime voice work, and a fantastic script, and you’ve got one hell of a game.
Just a quartet of buttons – in addition to the directions – are all that are required to accomplish Not A Hero’s move set: shoot, reload, take cover/slide and special attack. The former is self-explanatory, whilst the latter just utilises one of the many explosive or otherwise deadly pickups you can find throughout each mission. It’s the combination of the game’s cover system and reload that really shine through though. With a limited number of bullets reloading at the right time is vital (as it’s entirely manual) which is somewhat of a problem when in the middle of a gunfight; especially as your foes are more likely to charge you, knock you down and kill you if you’re reloading.
Of course, your enemies have to suffer the same fate of reloading their own weapons as well, but that allows for some delightful tactical play. You can slide tackle to knock your enemies down before executing them in a brutal one-hit-kill fashion, but even if you just close the distance to them, critical headshots can be achieved on nearby assailants. They have the same cover advantages that you have as well – giving everyone a level playing field – so waiting to shoot at the right moment, deciding when to move, and when to knock enemies down are key to victory.
Often games similar with mechanics to Not A Hero rely solely on the brilliance (if applicable) of their gameplay that the narrative takes a noticeable back seat. This is where Not A Hero so clearly excels – combining a snappy shooter with an engaging plot.
You begin as professional assassin turned amateur campaign manager Steve who is tasked with cleansing the city of whatever nefarious characters stand in your way in an attempt to see time-travelling anthropomorphic rabbit and mayoral candidate BunnyLord claim his seat at the political table.
With 21 days until the election you must ensure that BunnyLord is top of the voters choice by eliminating crime, rescuing giant bees, ensuring Aunt Ruby makes it home safely, and a variety of other tasks that always include killing everyone on route. Along the way, you’ll gain other “heroes” to your campaign, each with their own abilities and, most fantastically, styles.
Individual voice acting for each character grants a pleasing variety to not only the personality to what would otherwise be bland and empty vessels but allows for different play styles as well: Jesus runs really fast, Stanely shoots quickly, meanwhile Clive has a baller British accent.
There’s a forgiving difficulty curve that presents a valid challenge towards the end, plus an obsession to perfect each level by completing the three additional tasks set grants some extra life past completing the core missions. Using the varying abilities of each “hero” is key to achieving these tasks: some require speed, some exploration and others a force.
Not A Hero’s one of those games where there doesn’t seem to be a lot to it (there’s little beyond six or seven hours of content unfortunately), but there’s a wonderful amount of depth (and luckily all of that content is superb). The retro art style is superbly animated and incredibly detailed, the melodic tunes are not only catchy but also get you pumped for the action ahead. Gameplay is enjoyable and satisfying, whilst the humour laced story is captivating. Roll7 have produced a thoroughly impressive shooter that has all the trademarks of a cult classic.