Aptly titled, Not a Hero is a charismatic, side-scrolling shoot-'em-up in which you massacre mobsters, thugs, and other underworld villains in the name of BunnyLord – an anthropomorphic purple rabbit who is currently running for mayor. Phew.
The title's core gameplay, on the other hand, isn't all that strange. First and foremost, levels require you to fulfil a primary objective, whether it be rigging drug supplies with explosives, or just killing every bad guy on-screen. In addition to this, you're given three optional objectives that affect your ranking at the end of each stage, and these are typically much more difficult to achieve than the former. It's a rather simple premise, but one that grants some much-needed replay value for anyone looking to tick off every box on their checklist.
Furthermore, these deadly scenarios can be undertaken by any of the game's colourful cast of hired muscle – each character equipped with their own set of skills and drawbacks. For example, Cletus – a shotgun-toting ruffian who pretends that he's Scottish – has the potential to blow enemies back with every shot, knocking them out of windows and to their deaths below. In truth, it's these personalities and their unapologetic voice acting that provide the loudest laughs in Not a Hero, as BunnyLord's wacky briefings in-between missions can often come across as a little tryhard. It's a good thing, then, that the outing's loud, intricate visual style and slapstick sound design complement its sense of humour almost seamlessly.
In any case, you'll likely be fumbling through each assignment by weaving in and out of the shadows with frantic taps of the X button. Taking cover allows you to pop out and shoot enemies at your leisure, although it can also give way to some frustratingly fickle movement in heated situations. Thankfully, there tends to be other ways for you to tackle these circumstances aside from just diving straight into them, such as windows that can be broken through, granting you the element of surprise against your unsuspecting rivals. Similarly, locked doors are opened by waiting next to their respective panel, letting you devise new points of entry into or around obstacles. These simple elements help to give each map a sense of fluidity, with a constant change in elevation adding to the title's action-packed pacing.
Unfortunately, the sheer scale of some levels can be detrimental to their enjoyment, as there aren't any checkpoints to cushion the severity of dying. One mission in particular sees you fight your way up to the top floor, watch an unskippable cutscene, and then fight your way back down again, all in one go – an already taxing process that's made plain tedious by its interlude. Some enemy types are equally irritating, armed with attacks that knock you too far back or exist only to sponge up damage without presenting any real difficulty. These annoyances become relatively minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things – especially given the usefulness of the power-ups that you'll acquire throughout your skirmishes – but we can't help but feel that UK developer Roll7 could have been a tad more inventive when outfitting the title's opposition.
With 24 playable missions in total, the release offers a sizeable amount of content for you to blast a hole through, although we wouldn't recommend getting your hopes up for any endgame surprises. As we mentioned earlier, though, you're free to take on the optional challenges at any given time, which will no doubt rack up a couple of extra hours for those looking to squeeze the most out of their purchase.
Not a Hero might not always play out the way that you want it to thanks to the fidelity of its controls, but don't let that stop you from enjoying the ensuing chaos and delightful characters. If pixelated explosions and wide-open stages are your sort of thing, then be sure to cast your vote for BunnyLord this coming election.