Roll7 are probably best known for their side-scrolling skate’em up OlliOlli, but despite having similar visuals Not a Hero is a complete departure from Roll7’s sporting past, so does it tear up this new genre or does it die as soon as it comes out of cover?
Sometimes I like to leave things up to surprises and Roll7’s Not a Hero is one of those things.. Sure, I’ve written about the game and promoted its various press releases and the overall concept of the game, but magically I’ve managed to avoid all aspects of the game’s gameplay. I knew it was a cover-based shooter but I had no idea what a cover-based shooter was and how it’ll be portrayed in the game’s side-scrolling pixelated aspects.
Fortunately, at least for me, I was met with an absolutely brilliant game which blends the fast-based action found in OlliOlli (but with guns) as well as an absolutely hilarious narrative which alone makes you want to continue playing over and over again. So, the game focuses on Bunnylord’s attempt at becoming what I believed to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Instead it seems he wants to take over the world, and that’s okay by me.
The game introduces you to Steve, a cockney fella who’s Bunnylord’s best friend and chief campaign leader. You, playing as Steve, are required to help Bunnylord achieve his goals by any means possible. You’re a part of Bunnylord’s Fun Club, an exclusive club, which in the beginning you’re the only member of. Later on in the game though you’re introduced to more characters depending on your Approval Rating and each character has their own abilities. Each character also has their own unique accent and sayings that’ll more often than not have you crying with laughter such as Cletus with his cliche Scottsman accent who belts out corkers like “Reload ya fanny pack,” among others.
For me this was one of the best parts of the game and actually encouraged me to continue to play, even when things got tough, because I wanted to know what accent the next character will have. I’ve also quickly noticed that the various accent’s from the UK are just hilarious. No wonder we never get taken seriously.
As for character abilities, there’s more to each one than just their accent. Steve is a pretty straight forward run and gunner, Cletus is a much quicker chap with a shotgun with the ability to blast down doors, unfortunately he’s fairly low on ammo. Samantha, the “valley girl” can shoot while running and she has a faily powerful gun by her side, but once again she’s a little short on ammo. Jesus, by far my favourite character has the ability to shoot while sliding, has an automatic weapon and can do insane moving executions allowing you to slide and slay through a horde of enemies if you’re quick enough.
Speaking of when things get tough, Not a Hero is another one of those games that you’ll end up torturing yourself with. Not only is completing the more advanced levels close to impossible for someone as crappy at games as I, but each level has its own unique objectives that give you a better rating at the end of each level, such as “Mayor of England,” “Prime Minister,” and “King of Britain”. This once again offers a level of replayability even if you are a bit shit at the game. It’s also safe to say that I have no idea what the fourth accolade is, because frankly I’m so bad at this game, it hurts.
The game’s story is fairly easy to follow, but at the same time it’s also fairly easy to ignore if you’d rather just go from level to level blasting the hell out of the enemy. Personally I’m a member in the latter camp, but for those in the former, there is a story there to keep you hooked, though it’s about as daft as the game itself, so don’t expect the game to win a Man Booker Prize any time soon. That’s not to say the writing is bad, on the contrary, it’s just really, really clever and a little bit silly.
The level design is also pretty impressive too as Roll 7 has taken a pretty standard format and has turned it into something more than just a straight shooter. Sure, the earlier levels you can pretty much sail through following the linear path of each level, but as the game progresses you’re met with more complex levels that aren’t as straight forward as you expected. For example, later on in the game you’re met with the introduction of hostages. Unlike before, you can’t just go blasting your way through and hoping it’ll all be okay. You have to figure out a way of surprising the enemy so you can kill them before they kill the hostage.
Now, with the game’s pixely aesthetics, you’d think Roll7 would go overboard with the “gore” in order to make things more interesting, like Hotline Miami, for example. But the game is somewhat tasteful when it comes to the blood spatter it offers. It’s not insanely soaked with blood, but there’s just the right amount of red pixels splashing everywhere when someone takes a shotgun to the head. Speaking of slightly controversial content however, sometimes Not a Hero can be borderline racist but in the most tongue-in-cheek way. Such as the first week being based in Vodkaville filled with sweary russians, and the final level being based in a fairly oriental district full of.. well to be honest, they all look like PSY of Gangnam Style fame..
The game is split into three stages each with seven levels, this represents the three weeks you have to campaign for Bunnylord as well as each stage being a day of the week. Each day of the week also varies in difficulty depending how far along in the week you are. This is where I mostly noticed a little bit of OlliOlli influence coming in, as OlliOlli is split into stages with different levels which usually begin fairly easily, and gets more difficult as you progress. Fortunately with the aid of power-ups and secondary weapons such as grenades, pipe bombs, and kittens you can usually tackle the harder levels after a few tries, though be careful as the powerups don’t necessarily appear where you’d expect them to be.
Something I’ve noticed with Roll7 is that they have fantastic taste when it comes to music and the composers they choose. I loved the soundtrack in OlliOlli and OlliOlli 2, and I love the soundtrack in Not a Hero, even the lift-music-jingle that plays during the briefing and character selection. Top notch.
Overall, Not a Hero takes all of the fantastic things from games like Hotline Miami, Broforce, and Super Time Force and throws in a bit of humour to boot. Add that to the gratuitous swearing insanely overpowered weapon pickups and enemies, and the game’s main protagonist Bunnylord, you’ve got yourself a fantastic little title that’ll keep that cheeky little smile glowing for a good while to come. You’ve done it again Roll7. Well done guys.
Oh, and if reading reviews aren’t your thing our very own Josh is playing through the game on our YouTube channel stage by stage! You can check out the first and second stage below with more videos coming in the next few days!
This review was based on the PC version of Not a Hero provided to us by Roll7.
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