“Vote Bunnylord for Mayor, 2015.”
Developer roll7's claim to fame is OlliOlli, a quality 2D skateboarding series. As fun as those games are, they don't speak to the personality and charm of the studio. Not a Hero, on the other hand, cranks the insanity meter up to 11 and explores the limits of manically insane dialogue. It's got personality in spades, for better or worse. The game exists solely in left field, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, but the ridiculous premise matches the fast-paced, visceral combat and results in a fun, albeit short, ride.
Not a Hero stars Bunnylord, a large purple bunny in a suit who wants to become mayor. The election is just a few weeks away, and Bunnylord needs to strengthen his campaign in an effort to sway voters. His intentions sound pure, but he clearly has a few screws loose. Actually, he has a ton of screws loose. The dialogue Bunnylord spouts off in between missions gets weirder and weirder with each new level. It emphasizes the humor in Not a Hero, a game that never takes itself too seriously. The humor doesn't always work, and the goofy dialogue in particular begins to wear thin after a while. But for a large portion of the game I had a smile on my face as I soaked in the ridiculousness of it all.
When I wasn't smiling, I was gritting my teeth as I slid under enemy bullets and shot dudes in the face with a shotgun. It turns out Bunnylord's political campaign features a lot more violence than most voters expect. Not a Hero operates as a side-scrolling shooter, which translates to plenty of action and blood. It can be flashy at times, but at its core Not a Hero is a simple game. Players can shoot, reload, slide, get into cover, or use a special weapon. It only takes a few moments to grow accustomed to the controls, though sliding and going into cover both require the A button, which results in too many accidental deaths.
Scattered throughout each level are various bullet types, grenades, and other handy weapons. The items in the game compliment its humor, especially when enemies run around while on fire after a grenade explosion. There are also cat bombs, drill bombs that shoot vertically, and various other creative tools to dispatch foes quickly. They all provide fun violent ways to wreak havoc on a single level, though the game takes a significant turn about halfway through the campaign. It felt like there was a severe difficulty spike at some point—typically I could finish levels in one or two tries, but some of the later ones took dozens of attempts. Obviously I don't mind a good challenge, but the sudden shift proves jarring.
The increased difficulty forces more careful decisions during the character selection process, and there are quite a few charismatic individuals at the player's disposal in Not a Hero. They all need to be unlocked with a set approval rating, which can be increased by completing the optional objectives in each level. They range from achieving a high kill streak to rescuing kittens hidden throughout the environment. Each character comes with a specific set of skills. The default one, Steve, has higher accuracy and reloads quickly, but later characters might move quicker or use a gun with a blow-back effect among other things. I stuck to my favorites for most of the game, but the variety is there.
Unfortunately there's not enough meat on the bone when it comes to Not a Hero's content. The election campaign lasts 21 days, which means there are 21 levels. The jump in difficulty requires more attempts on later levels, but even then the game feels slight. To the game's credit, it includes a comprehensive stats page that details attempts, times, and other important tidbits for each level. In that sense, players can repeat levels in an attempt to improve on previous performances. Outside of that, there's not a whole lot to the overall experience.
I still enjoyed my short time with Not a Hero, though. It's a game that dares to be bold, even when it leans on the side of weird a bit too often. Bunnylord is certainly a memorable character, for better or worse. The combination of humor and fast-paced gameplay is where Not a Hero shines, and the game provides plenty of exciting moments with explosions, slides, and good ol' fashioned shooting.