Review: Not a Hero (PS4)

not-a-hero-review-banner

Title: Not a Hero
Format: PlayStation Network Download (855.5 MB)
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Roll7
Original MSRP: $12.99 (US), €12.99 (EU), £9.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
Not a Hero is also available on PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I know most people will take a quick look at the retro graphics and absurd premise and write this game off as an insane little indie game made in a drug-fuelled dreamlike state by one or two crazy developers. Admittedly, some of that may be true but I urge you to at least check out the trailer and if you have a few minutes, this review.

 

Gameplay:
I’m not quite sure how to summarise this game, but I’ll do my best. It’s a side-scrolling run-and-gun action game where you have to kill pretty much everyone, collect an assortment of bizarre items and jump through plate-glass windows. You can take cover, reload, slide, break necks, and much more all the while your character is saying witty remarks and even though he’s only about 20 pixels, looking cool while he does it.

Yet there is a complexity and rhythm to the action. You begin to unearth it during your run-and-gun beginnings and it adds a velvety layer of polish that makes you feel as if you’re in an ultra violent action film complete with startled doves to run through. I’m getting way ahead of myself here, where was I…

NOT A HERO_20160123113612 NOT A HERO_20160123111428

Your overall goal is to help your boss, the Bunnylord, to become mayor or even King of Britain – depending on the goals you achieve. A few story scenes filled with some excellent and randomized text before and after each level often created such absurd lines, I could not help but laugh aloud.

You start with moderately easy and linear levels but it soon becomes a warren of rooms and apartment blocks to traverse. It will not take ages to finish each one but mastering them and finding all the secrets is obsessively fun. Random weapon power-ups and special items make the action feel frantic and at times, crazy.

… they are fun and add to the replay value …
You are not a hero, as the name suggests, and you end up doing some awful and gruesome things. Each character is distinctive and unique in their appearance, abilities and remarks. Some characters are well suited to particular levels and it pays to experiment with each one. My favorite quickly became Dave with his short-range but powerful shotgun and a quick and nasty melee attack.

You have goals to achieve in each level such as rescuing hostages, finding collectibles, and even escorting a little old lady back to her top floor flat. A few have time limits that require you to learn and master the levels. You do not have to do these to complete the game but they are fun and add to the replay value.

NOT A HERO_20160120043136 NOT A HERO_20160120042452

Each hostage is guarded by a shotgun-toting gangster who will relieve their crying captive of their head if you are spotted, so coming at them from behind and quickly dispatching the evil swine is usually the best way. In fact, the same strategy works well for most of the encounters and you’ll find yourself waiting behind a closed door until they turn around before bursting into the room.

Sadly, there isn’t a Platinum trophy for this great game but it will still take a long time to get 100% of those virtual trinkets. I was also sad to hear that the Vita version had been cancelled because it would have been perfect on the little handheld beauty.

… I almost forgot about the pixelated fidelity …
Visuals:
There is an absurd amount of violence considering the extremely simplistic look. Limbs and blood splatter everywhere as a blast from a shotgun mows down a group of crazed London gangsters. It is truly an awesome sight when you barge through a door and knock an unsuspecting enemy to the ground then, depending on your character, perform a painfully brutal finishing move.

So much has been done with so little in terms of graphics and it’s super smooth to boot. The squalor and inhabitants that litter the levels help to purvey a very run-down aesthetic and style. At times I was so involved with the action and humor that I almost forgot about the pixelated fidelity.

NOT A HERO_20160120120424 NOT A HERO_20160120195345

Audio:
I adored the many characters comical remarks and quotes as I blasted through the levels. Almost every ounce of speech has profanities in keeping with the rest of the game. Nothing too obscene but definitely not for a young audience. The gangsters hurl abuse at you and sometimes plead for their life saying things like, “Don’t kill me bruv.”

The game is filled with awesome music and sound effects, from the clatter and chatter, to a little London cafe as Bunnylord and your character discuss the earlier events of the day. A splash of chiptunes and distinctive urban music plays as you run through the squalid high-rise apartment blocks killing bad guys with a boom, squelch, zap, and many other onomatopoeic words.

… one of the most hilarious and addictive things …
Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
If the brilliantly witty trailer hasn’t won you over, and this review didn’t change your mind either then I fear you will never discover the brutal and addictive brilliance that is Not a Hero. Once you find and unlock several of the characters and begin to master the simple and effective slide and cover mechanics, you will find it hard to stop playing.

Not a Hero, at first glance looks like a simple and slightly odd game, but I can assure you, this is better than some big budget titles on the market today. Shrug off that I-don’t-play-indie-games attitude and experience one of the most hilarious and addictive things ever to grace the PlayStation 4.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook