When it comes to games about anthropomorphic rabbits vying for political office while riding a wave of violence against the city’s underbelly, there hasn’t been many titles to appear in the last few years. Luckily, Not a Hero has shown up to break the dry spell and give players a chance to play as a host of ruthless mercenaries supporting the diabolically deranged humanoid rabbit Bunnylord in his bid for mayor of a made-up city in England.
If you so far have no clue what I’m talking about, we’re on the same page, but let me elaborate a bit. Mechanically, Not a Hero is a run-and-gun game with minor stealth and cover elements. You maneuver by moving left or right through the various rooms of a corporate office or warehouse and change levels by entering stairwell doorways or sometimes by breaking through windows out onto the ledge of the building next door. Now, let’s go deeper.
Depending on what character you choose the gameplay varies slightly, but it most entirely runs along the lines of: shooting enemies when they pop out from cover, hiding behind cover yourself, sliding into people to knock them down in order to perform an easy execution, getting powerups to give your gun extra behavior, finding secondary weapons in the form of grenades or other explosives, completing the stage’s main objectives which are almost always a scavenger hunt of sorts, and completing the stage’s optional objectives which are usually a bit more interesting (and difficult).
Steve is the starting character and also the most well-rounded, but if you choose other characters you might see abilities such as: shotgun blasts that knock back enemies, the ability to run while shooting, and shooting open doors. But this will be at the cost of drawbacks such as reduced clip size or slower reloads. Overall the gameplay is quite simple, but that doesn’t mean the game is easy. In the early stages you can just shoot wildly and slide tackle everything that moves and get away with it, but after about mission 13 or so the difficulty starts to ramp up substantially, and you’re going to find yourself swarmed with enemies at times. Even though this will force you to play the game more carefully, it doesn’t actually make the game any more fun, and the repetition of the whole thing will start to set in.
Let’s talk aesthetics here. Not a Hero is 2D and pixely, but the character design shows a kind of style and flair that is very satisfying. I would say that there are times that the stage design can get a bit bland and recycled-looking, but overall the game looks great. And the electronic beats that continuously pour from your speakers will keep you grooving in your chair.
What about the story and dialogue? Dark and hilarious, mostly. The most talkative character in the game is by far Bunnylord, and he speaks in a sort of Madlibs-ian way of extremely colorful adjectives and seemingly random nouns. And that turns out to be because much of his dialogue actually is randomly generated. This means that the description for the same mission will change on repeat tries, from perhaps blowing up an adequately illegal cake werehouse, to blowing up a mind-blowingly illegal windchime factory. And just like Mad Libs, there are times when the lines fall flat or become a bit too similar, but for the most part it’s freaking hilarious and Bunnylord is pretty much the best character I’ve seen anywhere in a long time.
Not a Hero offers some solid action to the run-and-gun genre, and makes it even more appealing with the surreal and wacky premise of Bunnylord and his ill-begotten rise to the throne (of mayor). But even with the option of choosing different characters, the game doesn’t change enough as you progress through the game to feel like much is added, and thus can get repetitive. And searching out the “real” way to beat a level (with all objectives completed) can feel more like a chore than anything. But overall, Not a Hero is a good dose of brutal entertainment. Buy the game here on Steam, and here’s the launch trailer:
- Great style
- Hilarious random-gen dialogue
- Non-stop action
- Gets repetitive
- Objectives can be a chore