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Got a PlayStation 4 and Some Time to Kill? Get Lethal with ‘Not a Hero’

It's funny, it's fast, and it's sometimes absolutely hilarious. You should give it a go, basically.
February 3, 2016, 6:15pm

If you missed the first, PC-exclusive release of Not a Hero in May 2015, I forgive you. I guess. The game, London indie crew Roll7's funny bone-tickling ultra-violent follow-up to its BAFTA-winning OlliOlli skateboard sim (and its equally excellent sequel), came out at the same time as a shit-load of bigger, shinier titles with significantly larger marketing budgets and photo-real-enough viscera instead of chunky red pixels spilling over the screen. It was up against The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, Project CARS, the Final Fantasy X remaster, and plenty more. There was competition, basically, and relative minnows rarely last long when they go swimming with sharks, however hilarious their own bite.

"We were a little underwhelmed by the 'noise' on the day of the game's release," says Roll7's founder and director Simon Bennett, "but it turned out that it was released in the busiest month for game marketing spend. There were like 500 games coming out on Steam, and The Witcher 3! But the game has actually outperformed the OlliOlli series on Steam, so commercially it's by far our biggest PC title."

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Which makes its move to console a very valid enterprise—and with the release calendar a little kinder right now, Not a Hero has a greater chance of being found amongst the freshest batch of PSN offerings. And to anyone out there with a PlayStation 4, in desperate need of a game that can fill a spare 15 minutes with belly laughs and lashings of claret, I say: Look no further than what's staring you in the face, right now. Not a Hero's two-dimensional levels are laid out to be played at speed, each of them a puzzle of sorts, a maze, a race. It's a short-session godsend. Your chosen character smashes through windows, knocks down and executes goons at point-blank range, lets off pipe bombs and sets up gun turrets to tear through gang members, plasters up posters, steals cheese, burns ganja, retrieves bonsai trees, and unleashes purring-but-deadly kitten bombs about the place, all in the name of… politics, actually.

Things do tend to go bang in this game, and it's usually for the best that you're not standing next to whatever's the cause of said bang

There's a story behind Not a Hero's frenetic gameplay—gameplay that's closer to OlliOlli's muscle-memory twitch moves than first impressions might imply, albeit with a (I think unique, certainly uncommon) single-tap cover mechanic that sees your diminutive avatar duck into the shadows to avoid gunfire. Nutshell: Your bullets-spraying actually-a-bit-of-a-hero is in the employ of a purple anthropomorphic rabbit by the name of BunnyLord, who wants to be mayor of the game's city setting—and to boost his public ratings, he's taking lethal force to the criminal elements around the place. Drug dealers, weapons traders, wannabe fromagers—nobody's safe from BunnyLord's crew of effing and blinding hitmen and women.

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Sure, why not, can't be worse than that other guy

You begin in control of Cockney gobshite Steve—fast, and always with a running commentary of his murderous exploits, but he can't reload on the move, and his little pistol doesn't pack that much of a punch. Next comes Cletus, a Scot with a shotgun who isn't quite so nimble but whose firearm of choice will see off any close-quarters enemy, and knock others off their feet. I might be imagining a difference in their speed—but the third character you unlock (based on BunnyLord's popularity), the very Welsh Samantha, definitely is a fast mover. There's also Jesus—not that Jesus—and Clive and Kimmy and more. They're all unique, and playing around with the game's roster will soon result in you finding mainstay favorites. While you begin with Steve, you might find yourself using him until you unlock the Latin lothario that is the fleet-footed Jesus—at least if you play anything like me.

And what's key is not to be reckless. The first few stages of Not a Hero can be taken hell for leather, but while there are often sub-quest-like rewards for hitting certain achievements in every scenario, which include speed-based challenges, you'll want to feel your way into each kill zone. I really wasn't fibbing when I told you it plays surprisingly like OlliOlli—and also the likes of Trials HD and Pumped BMXwhere the kickflips and fakies can flow like liquid gold only after you've taken on a run at a more leisurely pace.

The launch trailer for 'Not a Hero,' possibly the greatest launch trailer for any game, ever, probably

"Although it might not look like it, Not a Hero shares a similar rhythm to OlliOlli, in that once you have the 'flow' dialed, it really clicks," confirms Bennett. "Except that this time you're exploding baddies with insane weapons rather than landing a perfect 360 kickflip." In other words: Don't be surprised when you die, and die, and die, in pursuit of an all-objectives-passed run of gory glory. "The game plays awesome on PS4," Bennett continues, "and it feels really at home on the console, especially with the DualShock 4 [controller]."

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I can vouch for Not a Hero's PS4 suitability—Sony's contemporary system does feel as natural a home for the game as it was the comparably unsafe-for-minors Hotline Miami (which it definitely shares a little DNA with, not to mention a publisher in the shape of Devolver Digital). But there's a significant bump in the road it followed on its otherwise smooth translation from PC, namely the lack of a Vita version.

A bunch of fictional video game people, sitting about, right before some murdering

"On the Vita version, it was an unfortunate 'technical issues' scenario that was kinda out of our hands," Bennett says. "That's just how things go sometimes, we just hope that Vita owners can understand. It's never through lack of trying, or anything evil or malicious. If it were up to us the game would be on every platform under the sun, but that is just not possible with a team of five."

And what that team of five does next is inevitably going to attract industry attention before it's got so far as anything playable—you don't win a BAFTA in a category against the likes of the latest FIFA and Forza games, as announced by Linford Christie, and then vanish into the night with nothing to follow it. Right now, exactly what that is hasn't been announced. But it might not be more Not a Hero—at least, not immediately.

"We do love BunnyLord, and the gang," Bennett concludes. "They are now family. There is nothing currently planned [for a sequel], but never say never."

Not a Hero is out now for PlayStation 4 and, obviously, PC. Find Roll7 online here.

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