Taking a break from skateboarding madness, OlliOlli series creators Roll7 have unleashed something new on the gaming world. With a premise which includes time-travel, British politics and an anthropomorphic purple rabbit, welcome to the world of Not a Hero.
The cover-based indie shooter takes place during a mayoral election where BunnyLord, the aforementioned rabbit, has travelled back in time from 2048 to save the world from total destruction and alien invasion. In a bid to become mayor he hires Steve, a professional assassin turned amateur campaign manager, to clean up the city by any means necessary.
With the help of similarly dubious “heroes”, Steve must utilise their unique skill sets and complete his mission, ensure BunnyLord is elected mayor and save the future of the world, so no pressure on Steve then.
Not a Hero‘s story is, quite frankly, insane, but in the best way possible. The narrative is intelligent, witty, incredibly funny and at no stage during your campaign run does it get boring. It tells the tale of a bunny man from the future on a quest to take Boris Johnson’s job in order to save the human race, what is not to love about that?
This bizarre tale plays out in-game through “BunnyLord’s Briefing Room” meetings prior to each level, followed by a post-carnage one to one in the local cafe when the mission is complete. It’s told extremely well with a dialog that you’ll find it hard pressed to make it through without the occasional laugh out loud moment.
The gameplay itself is extremely enjoyable, from the very beginning of the game when Steve is a lone warrior with his handgun, through to the conclusion of the story where nine different heroes are at your disposal, the game never drops in quality. Much like Roll7’s OlliOlli, the control layout is perfect, the mechanics are simple to master and so the game quickly becomes more about tactics and less about what buttons to press.
This intuitive control setup lets you quickly jump into the game and utilize everything on offer. The mixture of rampage and cover-based shootouts mean that sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to go crazy while other times you’ll need a little tact. You have at your disposal a primary weapon, a collectible secondary weapon – grenades, turrets, that sort of thing – the ability to slide and knock enemies over as well as dodge and cover, all of which makes the gameplay exceptionally versatile.
One of the greatest design decisions in Not a Hero is the mass quantities of ammo, you do not need to go seeking a resupply mid-carnage, just simply reload. At the end of the day, this game isn’t going for total realism in any way and so taking away the distraction of finding ammo is a superb move which leaves you more time to mutilate your enemies.
Another interesting element is the dynamic mission risks, unexpected mid-level events that can beef up the difficulty considerably just when you think you’ve completed your mission with ease. These may be in the form of S.W.A.T. teams, trigger happy seniors, helicopter gunships, the occasional panda, or even a suicidal samurais. This accompanied by the fact that each level plays out slightly different depending on the character you play as means that yet again Roll7 have mastered the art of replayability.
The cast of characters themselves, while all controlled the same way, each have their own unique personalities, weapons and weaknesses. Cletus, for example, is a shotgun-toting hillbilly type who pretends to be Scottish. He will require a lot more reloads then Steve and given the time it takes to reload a weapon, this can be a significant problem when you’ve got a S.W.A.T. team closing in. That said he does have the ability to shoot open doors, which will definitely work in your favour.
Samantha, on the other hand, is a Welsh warrior, fast and agile, she is able to shoot while running and execute bad guys in a flash. As you progress through the game, the personalities and diverse skill sets increase significantly. Once you’ve unlocked them all, you’ll be able to smash bad guys to shreds with the hammer of Ronald, or slice your way through the crowd with Kimmy.
It’s not just the way the cast plays that is unique though, the voice-over work is hilarious, if a little bit adult-only. Our main hero Steve, for example, sounds like he belongs in a Guy Richie movie while Samantha wouldn’t look out of place in a twisted version of Gavin and Stacey. No word of a lie, this is some of the best voice-over work for an indie game I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing despite the limited vocabulary.
Much like the OlliOlli series, Not a Hero is visually pleasing with a great deal work put into turning what could easily have been a bland simplistic environment into a colourful vibrant one. Roll7 have gone above and beyond in making this game look good. The animation in each of the characters fighting styles, the unique look of every character, good or bad, even the smooth flow of the gameplay, it’s all done to the highest standard.
In addition to the voice-over work which I’ve already praised, the soundtrack is brilliant. From the casual elevator music on the character select screen to the in-level fast pumping, ready for action music, it’s fit for purpose, adds to the overall experience and just works perfectly. Roll7 do of course have a reputation for awesome soundtracks as anyone that has played one of the OlliOlli games will agree.
Overall, I honestly can’t find a significant flaw with Not a Hero, it is a superb game. While the graphics may initially seem primitive, Roll7 have used their brilliant design skills to make every pixel count on screen. The cast of character is as diverse as it is extensive and the dynamic mission surprises mean that you’re never likely to get the same experience twice.
The story is a laugh to say the least and the gameplay is flawless, an all round great game. Long live the BunnyLord.
Not a Hero is available now for PC via the Steam store.