‘NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition’ Review

Platform Xbox One

Developer Roll7  Publisher Team17

Genre Action

Returning with several additional levels and the ability to play as Bunnylord himself, NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition brings frantic, over-the-top action to the Xbox One. Primarily working alongside Bunnylord to help his political campaign succeed, the player controls a wide variety of violent and quirky characters to complete a different mission every day until the election. These tasks range from killing a mob boss to destroying a giant statues or stealing an ancient scroll from a vault, and every major mission is accompanied by three optional objectives to help improve the voter approval rating Bunnylord has. Armed with a ridiculous sense of humour and non-stop pixelated violence, the title sets out to challenge completionists while simultaneously offering a more simplified experience for anyone less intent on repeatedly playing levels to avoid being punched or to succeed in destroying a helicopter.

Consisting of just over two dozen levels, NOT A HERO is not a terribly lengthy title, and players who only want to finish the game will not have much work ahead of them to fulfill that goal, but truly completing the game requires not only locating several hidden levels, but also completing each optional mission to ensure Bunnylord has the highest possible approval rating and unlocking all of the playable characters. Unlockable characters may not seem like a vital element of a game, but considering each character has a very different play style, unlocking all of them has a major impact on success, particularly in the final levels. The differences in characters are not only found in weapons, but also the way they execute enemies, personalities, their movement speed, how far they can move while sliding, and special moves. Not only can having increased movement speed make completing a level significantly easier, certain objectives are time-based while some gaps between buildings are much simpler to navigate with increased agility. Through the character and level design, NOT A HERO succeeds in rewarding players for unlocking characters and putting forth the effort to complete secondary objectives. All too frequently gamers are rewarded with simple re-skins or heroes with strictly aesthetic modifications, so having such monumental variety between the slew of characters in NOT A HERO is a warmly welcomed feature.

While the art style and initial few levels may suggest NOT A HERO is a simplistic game, the level design argues to the contrary as strategic enemy placement forces players to think before acting. While solid objects such as doors will prevent enemies from seeing the player, hearing gunshots in the next room will cause them to rush towards the firefight. Some enemies will also be holding hostages and upon seeing the player, they will execute the helpless individual, promptly failing one of the optional objectives and forcing the player to restart if they wish to have a 100% completion rate. There will always be secondary, more appropriate ways to enter those specific rooms so that you have the drop on the hostage-taking AI, but it is not always evident and you will almost always accidentally stumble into the room on your first playthrough just to watch a person or panda have its head blown off. Similarly, there will also be rooms which result in enemies swarming you from all sides, and unless you happen to be particularly lucky at that moment, a second attempt at the level will be necessary to succeed. Later levels in the game introduce villains which cannot be knocked down and will charge brazenly towards you with an instant kill weapon, while other enemies will shoot a barrage of projectiles at you or charge towards you with shotguns. Being familiar with each type of enemy and the layout of the level is essential to success and it is incredibly rare to complete a mission on your first attempt in the second half of NOT A HERO, even if you do not care about optional tasks.

Some enemies will take cover between firing, something the player is also capable of doing. When taking cover, you do not need to wait for an object to hide behind, you simply disappear into the background wherever you are, making the action strategic while maintaining the frantic nature. Coming out of cover to fend off a wave of attackers but having to slide to safety or ducking back into cover to hopefully reload before being shot makes for an incredibly tense situation and there is absolutely no shortage of them in the second half of the game. To highlight this point, there is one level which introduces a helicopter to the fight and although it is possible to completely ignore the helicopter and complete the mission, there are hordes of enemies coming from above and below while the helicopter shoots repeatedly into the building followed by an explosive capable of knocking you from the building to your death. Anyone who makes the mistake of underestimating NOT A HERO will undoubtedly be caught by surprise by this and see a few more deaths added to their growing collection at the hands of the flying death machine.

Unfortunately, NOT A HERO does suffer from some design choices, primarily in the game’s narrative. The premise is a simple one, but it is conveyed through dialogue which is best described as the result of a “Mad Libs” marathon. Before and after a mission, Bunnylord gives a speech but the adjectives used seem so arbitrarily assigned that it makes very little sense. While it is obviously done in keeping with the game’s ludicrous sense of humour, the selection of adjectives deviates so far from anything logical that it falls flat instead. Had there been more care taken with the dialogue, it could have been yet another success within the game. Instead, after 20 levels of reading nonsensical phrases, hearing Bunnylord speak only results in cringing or skipping the scene.

Anyone who has no desire to complete additional objectives will likely find the game to be incredibly short, particularly if they do not locate the hidden levels. The developers have done everything in their power to make the completion of these optional tasks as alluring as possible and they certainly succeed, but anyone who simply refuses to chase after them will not get much game time from NOT A HERO. Those who take on the challenge to obtain a 100% approval rating for Bunnylord will have between 5 and 10 hours of play time ahead of them just to complete the missions. In theory the levels can all be completed within three or four minutes, but the number of times levels will be restarted due to death or failing an objective is what will significantly increase the amount of time spent finishing the title.

NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition is an enjoyable action game which will undoubtedly surprise many simply by virtue of its degree of difficulty to complete in its entirety. The concept of cover-based shooting is streamlined to eliminate much of the time spent rushing to cover or hiding behind various barricades as an enemy unloads their clip. Allowing the player to take cover anywhere and everywhere keeps the action consistent while phenomenal level and enemy design provide climactic battles during key moments and force the player to strategically approach firefights even amidst the chaos. Despite some of the humour failing due to an overabundance of absurdity and losing all coherence, the one-liners spouted by characters are highly entertaining and the general premise is sure to make players laugh. NOT A HERO will test the skill of players but never feel unfair or arbitrarily cruel. Everything it asks of you is completely plausible, even if it requires 30 attempts before success is found. Those who have previously played through NOT A HERO will not find much in the way of new content, but fans of Hotline Miami or Xbox One owners looking to play a fast-paced action title who have not played the original release of NOT A HERO will find this to be a formidable title.

The Good

  • Cover mechanic ensures the action rarely stops and keeps battles intense
  • Game does everything in its power to entice you to complete optional objectives
  • Characters all have very unique abilities and highly entertaining one-liners

The Bad

  • Bunnylord’s dialogue suffers due to absurd and senseless adjectives
  • Limited number of levels will seem underwhelming to those not looking for 100% completion
  • Extremely limited amount of new content added from original release

The Score: 7.4