The Bunnylord has come from the future to save us all from some as-yet unknown terrible fate, and to do so, he must win an upcoming mayoral election. To achieve this, he proposes a simple and unconventional campaign strategy: reduce the crime rate by shooting bad guys in the face.
So Not A Hero has you shoot many bad guys in their dumb faces, and also furiously stab a few of them in the eyes just for good measure. It’s certainly a more direct form of politics than the norm, but it is seemingly effective, and most importantly – it’s massively entertaining!
Drawing from a roster of unlockable mercenaries, you set out to deliver on the promise made by the Bunnylord. Completing missions increases his popularity and unlocks some more colourful cronies to aid you in fulfilling his political dreams.
Not A Hero is not a complex game; it’s essentially a side-scroller with firearms rather than swords, axes, or shovels. The real difference here is that with a tap of a button, you can hide behind objects to avoid being shot or seen. This is a strangely elegant cover system that succeeds in part due to its simplicity.
In fact, everything about the game is deceptively simple, from the pixel art graphics to the pared-back controls. However, it certainly isn’t basic, and nor is it easy.
Trying to rush a level will most likely see your kneecaps reduced to a blocky crimson ragout, but add in well-timed dives behind cover and some anticipation of enemy movement, and you’ll soon you’ll be pulling off epic killing sprees in rapid succession. Sliding behind cover and timing your reloads become second nature very quickly.
The gunplay here is hugely entertaining, and surprisingly rewarding. Shots, slides, and dives flow together fluidly, and the lack of combos or complex move sets (or even aiming beyond left or right) does nothing to reduce the skill required to blitz a level. Not A Hero focuses on nailing its simple controls, but loses nothing in the process.
The real variety in the game comes from the unlockable characters, each of which is voiced with an over-the-top British accent from Scouse to Scottish. Initially these are hilarious, but do become tired after a few hours. Each character has a different weapon and skill load-out, ranging from shotguns to twin pistols, to hip-thrusting and hammers.
Some levels are better suited to certain character skills, but you are free to choose any unlocked character for any level.
In case it’s not clear, Not A Hero is not a game that takes itself seriously. It’s a borderline nonsensical, in-your-face pixel-y bloodbath, complete with a cavalcade of ultraviolent British caricatures and a purple time travelling Bunny with political aspirations.
The story is completely throwaway yet entertaining, and there’s some strange seemingly randomly-generated dialogue present, which adds another level of weird to an already sizeable stack of it. But a little weird never hurt anyone, especially when it's the window dressing on such a slick action title.