Not a Hero is a 2D side scrolling tactical shooter from Devolver Digital, the publisher of such games as Hotline Miami, Serious Sam, and Broforce. The plot such as it is, regards Mayor electorate Bunny Lord (a purple bunny thing in a business suit) as he attempts to sway voters for the upcoming election in the unnamed city. He decides that the simplest way to do this is to show that he’s tough on crime by murdering its face in. Not personally of course, but through the Bunny Lord fan club, his every growing campaign management team of murderers, hit men, and assorted psychopaths.
Each character has different strengths, weaknesses and abilities changing how you approach each level. You start out with Steve, a common man armed with an accurate pistol. Though you start to receive some truly odd ducks such as Jesus (pronounced “Hey Zeus”) who can shoot while sliding, is pretty fast and is constantly hip thrusting as pink spandex wearing Spaniards do. Or Stanley a man raised by gerbils armed with a machine gun he reloads with ammo kept in his Afro. In total there are 9 different characters to play around with and most of the fun is learning for yourself what they can do.
You’ll do this across a series of levels where you kill a variety of henchmen, drug dealers, investigators, and the occasional SWAT team. Each level has random power ups and special explosives to add replayability as well as additional objectives to complete such as completing the level within a time limit, only being hit 20 times, or finding a lost kitten. These help with your PR points and unlocking new characters quicker. For the most part these aren’t too difficult but some of them seem unnecessarily frustrating. Mainly the time limit ones, especially the game like to give them with another goal where you have to find special items which are in a section of a level you have no reason going to except to get those items which costs you valuable time as you shoot your way to freedom. Though you’ll die a lot, it takes but a few seconds to restart the mindless carnage.
However, what makes these frustrations tolerable is the writing and characters. Bunny Lord himself is a consistently hilarious psychopath who starts every mission with a PowerPoint presentation. Sometimes with a dead fox to celebrate dead fox day, sometimes wearing night vision goggles, or some other random thing as he gleefully details how you’re going to murder crime today. He’s also full of insane non sequiturs such as “I hate vile children. They smell like entitlement”.
But, he seems to genuinely like his employees since after every successful mission he takes you out to lunch and congratulates you on a job well done. While also mentioning unpleasant tidbits like how that warehouse you cleared out was full of impressionable young teens who might have turned away from their life of crime. But than he waves it away saying, “scientifically and statistically a dead body has a zero percent chance of being a repeat offender.“ Said employees have their own random comments and ramblings that makes each one stand out as an individual. Whether it’s hitman Mike’s drunken ramblings or Jesus’s catty comments each character stands out in their own way.
Despite some frustrating objectives, this is a solid pixelated shooter. But what makes it stand out is the hilarious writing, engaging characters, and catchy soundtrack. This helps emphasis the over the top violence as you shoot, stab, zap, burn, and explode your way through a variety of enemies to get Bunny Lord elected mayor. And people say politics are boring.