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Not A Hero Review

Join an assassin turned campaign manager and his manic mayoral candidate as they wade through corridors of pixelated thugs and bloodthirsty ninjas on their journey to the seat of city office.

The road might not always be easy, and the price of failure may be high, but it helps if your candidate is an anthropomorphic purple rabbit from the future. . . doesn’t it?

Not A Hero is a 2D action platformer developed by UK-based studio Roll7 and published by Devolver Digital. Using elements of platforming combined with 2D cover based shooting, you, as the Bunnylord’s campaign manager, will make your way through increasingly difficult stages in an effort to clean up the city and improve Bunnylord’s public approval rating in the 20 days leading up to the election.

Not a Hero 4-min

During these stages you are given three randomised side objectives that boost your approval rating if completed. They can be quite tricky and there are no checkpoints, meaning that once you’ve been stabbed, shot or fallen to your death you must start the level and the objectives over. This is a relatively painless process as the reload time doesn’t take too long, and once you’re familiar with them the stages can be completed quite quickly. Boss characters jump in and out of the story at the end of each block of levels to spice things up and provide a pleasant break from the regular missions.

A number of colourful characters can be unlocked as your approval rating increases to aid you and your prophetic purple friend on the campaign trail. A trucker wielding a shotgun and sporting a fake Scottish accent or a hip-thrusting Latino man in a purple shirt called Jesus are just two of the personalities you will encounter and add to your line up. They often spout amusing one-liners during the game and the pre-mission character select screen makes a rather charming sound as you scroll through your roster. Each of these characters has their own unique weapon and style of play that determines the pace you tackle each mission and how you confront enemies.

Not a Hero 2-min

Bunnylord appears before each stage to brief you on your mission. These briefs provide most of the exposition for the game, and whilst Bunnylord gives entertaining justifications to slide and shoot your way through the city’s criminal underworld, the charm begins to wear a little thin after the first couple of hours of listening to his muffled pontificating.

Combat is fast-paced and enemies come in many forms with lowly grunts that provide some nice cannon fodder and machine gun toting thugs that can pull you out of cover. The ability to jump and slide feels responsive and the ability to tackle enemies enables you to close the distance and perform executions unique to each character that, more often than not, will result in a satisfying spray of gore. Throughout the game, you’ll collect the upgrades that are dropped by downed foes to augment your bullets turning them to laser, incendiary or explosive rounds.

Not a Hero 3-min

Despite your repertoire of weapons and abilities, however, most stages will require multiple runs to complete. Mashing the buttons is not recommended as you will often find yourself reloading out of cover, and as you can’t cancel out of this animation your enemies will take full advantage of the opportunity to pepper you with bullets. After completing the objective your chosen character and Bunnylord will retire to the café next to your campaign headquarters to lick your  wounds and reflect on the success of the mission. This serves as a nice platform to introduce new characters as they’re unlocked with Bunylord conversing with you and them over lunch.

Levels are designed well, if a bit similar, with every pixel seemingly drenched in equal parts neon and pixelated blood. They have an engaging sense of momentum that is aided by a great soundtrack that is fun, entertaining and helps to keep the player absorbed in the world even after multiple deaths. Combined with randomly generated side missions and unlockable characters it instils each stage with a certain level of replay value.

If you enjoy over the top personalities and solid platforming, Not A Hero will have something to offer you. The story, while amusing in itself, is not necessary to enjoy what is at its core an over the top spectacle 2D action platformer.

Not a Hero is available on PC, and coming soon on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. We reviewed the PC version.
Samuel Tobin is an avid gamer that can usually be found either grinding out Auron's Masamune in Final Fantasy 10 in a haze of sweat and silent protestations of "no more" or dashing to the fridge between frantic sleep deprived bouts of Hearthstone.