Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Not a Hero

Rating: 7.8
Happy Price: 4.99


A 2d shooter that focuses on quick reactions and a quick trigger finger, this is an unforgivably challenging game. Cover can only be initiated via a slide near an object that is eligible for cover, limiting this game to a few simple mechanics of sliding, cover, and shooting. Occasionally late game there is some planning and strategy involved.

Core Mechanics

I like to think of it as a side scrolling version of Hotline Miami, both games are gory, violent, and unforgiving. The player is basically slide tackling enemies to initiate a quick kill, or utilizing cover when outgunned. However there are many melee oriented enemies that will rush cover and will kill the player in one hit. Unlike Hotline Miami, in this sense I felt very under powered and often times it felt impossible to get out of a sticky situation. Melee enemies don't die with one or two bullets unless it's a shotgun, but shotguns have low ammo capacity. So three melee enemies and you're done in that case. The frustration mounts very quickly over time and there are no checkpoints. One mistake, or a shortcoming of the game can result in a death and the whole level has to restart.

One thing that was very frustrating was when I'd slide tackle an enemy, then go for the execution. When I got to the execution part, a melee enemy would be rushing me. The button for shoot and execution at the same time. So what would occur is the kill animation would take place over me shooting the melee enemy, and I would die. Amid all the chaos going on of slide tackling, cover, shooting, this doesn't happen all the time but is frustrating when it does because you have to start the level from the beginning. This game is harder than Hotline Miami, and does not reward you with doing some impossible or difficult things with checkpoints.

One thing I enjoyed was the character selection. Different levels had different layouts and enemies. The more challenges completed, the higher Bunnylord's approval rating was, which unlocks more characters. That means you could go back to older levels with more powerful characters and fully complete the levels, that way better characters are unlocked for the more difficult stages. It's not really explained anywhere how much challenges are worth towards the approval rating though, so you're not quite sure what will unlock what. It's a guessing game sort of, maybe if I complete all the challenges I'll get a new character? I'd like to know exactly how to get that new character before I invest time in doing it.


The writing is where this game shines the most. The story of Bunnylord trying to become mayor of a city and his crazy ideas of how to get there are humorous and a great play on modern politics. The group of people he employs to do his dirty work are called the "Bunnylord Fun club" which is just a funny name in itself. The humor is dark and brash, if you're into that kind of thing, you'll love this game. For example "Johnny, sorry about all those Samurai's, I had no idea they had machine guns hidden everywhere, next time i'll scout that better". That is not an actual example, but a poor rendition of what to expect. Essentially the story is Bunnylord hires a bunch of hitmen to kill bad guys, and then Bunnylord has to manipulate the media into making it seem like he did something good. However Bunnylord has to justify all his actions, and the way he does that is clever and funny.


The art style is what drew me to play the game in the first place. The vibrant and bright colors combined with the fluid animations and gory kills creates a nice contrast. It fits together with a psychopathic mayor that kills people for voters. It fits with the whole modern retro gameplay style that I sort of expected, I went in knowing I was going to get a fast paced and difficult shooter before I even started playing. Everything is done cleanly, and there doesn't seem to be any shortcuts taken. This game is a true work of art. 


It's definitely one of the best soundtracks in any game. Every stage has a modern chiptune that has hints of EDM or rock music. Every time I died, or booted up the game, I was filled with dopamine and serotonin, that's how good the soundtrack is. Devolver also published Hotline Miami which has a legendary soundtrack, and I think this follows a similar recipe for "really hard game, really good soundtrack".


The art, sound, and writing are top notch. The combat mechanics can be refined a bit more, but for the most part did what I expected and was bug free. The character selection was a highlight, but long frustrating levels without any checkpoints got old after a while. It got to the point where trying to beat the game became a chore, and that is never good.

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