An anthropomorphic rabbit uses violence to lobby for its election. What’s not to like?
A lot can change in 12 months, and last year when we went hands on with Roll7’s latest game Not A Hero it presented itself as an unrelenting shooter. Playing it at this year’s Rezzed, Roll7 has polished its perfect package, turning it into one of the best games I’ve played in years.
For those who haven’t read my preview from last year, Not a Hero’s story revolves around helping an anthropomorphic bunny from the future, known as Bunnylord, win an election and become Mayor of England. Stepping into the boots of non-heroes, you need to clear out scum from the cities and take out the opposition with brutal efficiency.
Now, to the real meat of this preview, Not A Hero is brutal. And when I say brutal, what I really mean is unbelievably brutal. Guts and limbs fly through the air when grenades explode, or you pick up a super-powerful ammo upgrade. Enemies skid, face first, along the floor leaving a smear of bright red blood in their wake.
Executions on downed foes paint the walls with blood, skin and brains, and the impact of each shot really connects with every pull of the trigger. The last pixel-art game we can think of that delivered this much violence on such a scale was Hotline Miami, and we all know how well that little indie title did.
Not a Hero used to be unimaginably punishing, but Roll7 has softened the curve without compromising on its vision. Now things start out slow, with the basics of cover shooting, sliding and executions handled early on. But as you progress, more enemies are added in and randomly-generated time-based objectives up the tension, pushing you forward through levels and creating a weird sense of rhythm to the violence.
Despite all the grim on-screen action, Not a Hero isn’t all doom and gloom action, in fact it’s incredibly light-hearted. At the beginning of every mission is a randomly-generated briefing session with Bunnylord. Sometimes he’ll be wearing a funny hat, other times he may have brought along a granny or a box of cute kittens, you just never know. It’s a wonderful way to break up the ultraviolence and show just how insane Bunnylord really is.
Similar scenes take place at the end of missions too. After you’ve completed your objectives and sped off in Bunnylord’s questionable campaign van, a debrief at the nearby greasy spoon gives you a glimpse into your relationship with the politician. And, what’s more, it also leads to some excellent randomised sentences like “That. Was. Bloody… Stupendous.” Surely that’s reason enough to love Not a Hero?