“Vote for Bunnylord:” Not A Hero Review
Not A Hero is a 16-bit sidescrolling shooter that initially appears to be a throwback to the games of yesteryear. That is not entirely inaccurate, however, as there are a couple of modern sensibilities that set Not A Hero apart: regenerating health and a cover system. These two elements add interesting layers to an already frantic shooter
experience and Not A Hero stands out because of them.
The story in Not A Hero is bizarre if underplayed. Essentially, a purple anthropomorphic rabbit named Bunnylord shows up and informs the player that unless he is elected mayor at the end of the month, the world will end. Bunnylord’s campaign strategy is to crack down on crime; specifically, to hire an assortment of colorful assassins to gun down every gangster in sight. Obviously, the story isn’t attempting much in the way of actual drama, but there are some funny one-liners throughout, even if the game’s approach to humor usually boils down to “it doesn’t make sense, so it must be hilarious.” The ragtag group of playable assassins you can unlock all have colorful personalities and vulgar dialogue, although surprisingly, Bunnylord himself is the only character in the game without a proper voice actor.
Each character has his or her own unique weapon and abilities. I preferred Samantha, who totes an SMG and can reload while moving, but other characters sports pistols, shotguns, and more, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Not A Hero can be quite difficult from time to time, but often, the solution to a tricky level is simply finding the character best suited to tackle it. The game isn’t terribly long- you can blow through the entire thing in a few hours, depending on your skill level (more on that in a minute), but there are three challenges for each mission, some of which will require multiple playthroughs to obtain. If you’re a completionist, Not A Hero can be significantly longer.
No matter which character you choose to play as Not A Hero is a ton of fun. It controls like a dream, and while the concept of using cover in a 2D plane initially struck me as odd, it actually works quite well. The fact that your character’s health regenerates is also to the games benefit, as it encourages a faster, more entertaining playstyle. This momentum is addictive, and when you get into a good rhythm, it’s easy to lose time playing the game. When the rhythm breaks, however, the game comes to a screeching halt.
Much like other 16-bit shooters, Not A Hero can get very challenging. The difficulty doesn’t so much gradually escalate so much as it spikes every time you enter a new area in the game, of which there are three. The first area is almost too easy, with only the optional challenges adding any kind of obstacle to overcome. The second area is tougher, with more powerful enemies and harder challenges, but the difficulty feels reasonable, so long as you’re concentrating. The final area can be outright ridiculous, however. Sword-wielding enemies kill you in one hit, limited field of vision often forces you to jump into rooms full of enemies blind, and machine gun toting enemies crowd doors to get in cheap shots the second you emerge. The difficulty takes a turn from tough to frustrating in the third act, and the game does little to prepare you for the thorough curb-stomping that’s about to ensue.
Still, questionable difficulty spikes aside, Not A Hero is an immensely enjoyable 16-bit action game. The jokes at least elicit a smile, if not outright laughter, the gameplay is intense, and the challenges for each level offer enough incentive to return for a better run. You can probably take one look at Not A Hero and make an educated guess on whether it’s your cup of tea or not, but if you’re remotely interested, it’s definitely worth a shot.