Look, it is no secret at this point that I am a pretty big fan of killing things - in video games, of course. In fact, I’ve sort of carved out a niche as being someone who is slightly too enthusiastic about the stabbing, shooting and punching that 99% of our chosen hobby bases its gameplay around. Look at the last few reviews and articles I have written for other outlets - Hotline Miami, Doom, Mortal Kombat, that Zombie Nazi sniping game - if its got guns and gore, I’m probably the man for the job. Seriously, you all want to hope that my day job doesn’t completely send me over the edge. If I do a ‘Falling Down’, they’re going to take one look at my game collection and body of work and I’m going to ruin things for ALL OF YOU.
Not A Hero is a game about killing a load of people so the quite brilliant Bunnylord will be successful in his campaign to become mayor. You play as a bunch of daft, individual characters who have their own unique abilities, killing your way through rooms full of enemies and trying to complete that levels specific objective. Most levels you’re dropped off on the roof of a building and, once the objective has been completed, require you to get to the bottom of it to escape in the Bunnymobile. You can shoot, dive into cover and perform a sliding attack which trips weaker enemies, allowing you to get an execution kill. It is, at its core, pretty straightforward, but a lot of fun.
As I mentioned at the start, I do really like killing things but this also means I’m fairly well versed in the whole killing of things thing. I’m a bit of an expert in virtual murder, so I’ve got a pretty good handle on when the game I’m playing full of all the killing is a bit rubbish. Not A Hero has remarkably good killing, so it has passed the first test. To paraphrase one Dave Mustaine, crazy right wing conspiracy theory man and member of Megadeth, ‘Killing is its business, and its business is good.’ It is instantly fun on the most basic level - dodging into cover to avoid bullets, shooting guys with different, sometimes utterly ridiculous weapons - and if this was all Not A Hero consisted of, it would be a fair success.
The real meat of the game comes from the three randomised bonus objectives each stage has. For example, say you’ve got a stage where you’re tasked with finding six items scattered around the place and escaping in the Bunnymobile. A bit of practice, picking the character you’re best with, you’ll nail it eventually. No problem. Now, try that level again, but you’ve got to complete it in under two minutes, fire no more that 150 shots and find some child with a balloon that has been hidden somewhere. You have to plan a route, take risky shortcuts like diving out of a window and in through another a few floors down. You have to be economical with health or bullets. You have to be quick and keep your eye out for opportunities to perform specific goals. Some characters are going to be better than others for certain tasks - when asked to complete a level under a tight time limit, do you go with Cletus, the redneck Scotsman who can clear a room quickly with his shotgun or do you go with the red dress wearing Welsh woman Samantha, who can reload while moving, saving precious seconds? Once you’ve unlocked them all, you’ll find yourself picking the best one for the jobs you need to accomplish, aiming for the best possible score.
Nailing these objectives and achieving the ‘Global Megalord’ ranking is where Not A Hero really excels. Simply finishing a level *is* fun, but isn’t really enough. It is a bit too easy, too basic. Dropping these random goals in add a sense of urgency to each level. They add difficulty and moments of risk/reward and they add an opportunity for you to change things up by picking the character you think has the best chance at scoring the highest score. This was something sorely missing from Hotline Miami 2, when they removed the ability to choose from all the different masks and subsequently removed one of the best aspects of score-chasing - the way you can completely change your ‘run’ with that one different ability and your own skill using it.
So, to summarise, Not A Hero is a fun game about killing, with fun ways to do the killing and with lots of depth to the killing, all wrapped up in a witty, entertaining package that pokes fun at all the killing. Another belter of a score attack game from the team behind Olli Olli, Roll7, who are quickly becoming one of the UK's best indies.