Not a Hero is a fun, fast paced third-person shooter featuring bright pixel art and an engrossing soundtrack. The player stars as hired help for mayoral candidate BunnyLord, who strives to gain favor with voters by reducing crime; your role in the campaign is to shoot anyone who gets in the way of that goal becoming a reality.
From the introduction “shootorial,” you’re thrust right into the action, running through multiple areas of town, diving from cover to cover, and decimating crime lords and their lackeys. The gore in the game is almost adorable, with pixel blood sprays heralding the satisfying end of your opponents. While the game feels good handheld, it really shines with the Pro Controller.
Play How You Want
There are 21 days until the election when you start Not a Hero, and you have 21 missions to make sure BunnyLord gets elected (plus some bonus content!). In each level you have a main objective, in addition to three challenges you can take on, which range from completing a certain number of executions to saving a panda hostage. Some objectives are straightforward, but some will take creativity to make happen. The more objectives you complete, the more the voters love BunnyLord (and therefore increase his approval rating), so it is in the player’s best interest to do the best they can here.
As the player progresses through the levels of Not a Hero, they unlock new characters as BunnyLord’s approval rating climbs. You start as Steve, BunnyLord’s best friend, and unlock 9 characters total. This is one of the most engaging parts of the game; each character has their own special abilities, some passive and some active, meaning that the player can choose the style that best suits them. Are you drawn to shotgun toting power characters? Fast characters that can breeze past enemies? Whatever your style, Not a Hero has got it. Adding to the options are randomly dropped power ups for your weapon, and secondary weapons like the “cat bomb” that can help you get through a tough spot. However, you’ll find that even if you’re strongest with a particular character, not every character suits every level. You’ll end up rotating through a number of the characters throughout the game, depending on the situation you’re facing.
Great Level Construction
There are three main portions of the game, designated as different neighborhoods. The enemies would have benefited from character design that fell into a few less tropes, as they are a little flat against the inventiveness of the rest of the game, but there’s good variety in the enemies you’ll be facing from a gameplay perspective. The levels all follow a similar format, and while they are overall linear there are often fun ways to sneak around and achieve objectives. There are also plenty of different mission elements, like planting bombs, or escorting an aggressive elderly woman to her apartment, that lend a great deal of variety to the game. Every level really does feel a little bit different.
One of the greatest parts of Not a Hero is the cover feature. Tapping B will send the player diving for cover.. When they dive, the character snaps into cover and the model changes to a darkened version, to show that they are in a safe space. This allows the player to focus on the actual gameplay instead of struggling to line up exactly where to head. With the fast and furious shootouts on almost every floor of each level, you don’t want to be struggling with the controls.
The most important part of the gameplay strategy, though, is managing ammunition. It took me a little while to get used to no automatic reloading, but it soon becomes clear that paying attention to your ammo is the only way to stay alive. There are plenty of opponents, in later levels especially, that you won’t be able to stay away from long enough for your character to reload if you don’t play it smart.
The speed of the game means there isn’t a lot of room for missteps. Unfortunately, there were some inconsistencies with when your character would get into cover and when they’d slide past, or when they could perform an execution, which would generally result in the character’s death. These didn’t happen too frequently, but it was frustrating when it came up. The only other concern I had was from a quality of life point of view; I’d really like to be able to advance the dialogue or speed up the text speed. It took some time to get through cutscenes, but you definitely don’t want to skip ahead or you’ll miss some delightful content from BunnyLord.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Not A Hero was provided by Tinsley PR.