EGX Rezzed: Not A Hero hands-on
Roll7 had a good showing at Rezzed, with their skateboarding title OlliOlli getting a lot of attention demoed on PC and PS4. However, I still have enough scars from my own skateboarding youth, so went for the safer option of being shot at in Not A Hero.
The game follows you, as an employee of a mayoral candidate trying to clean up the crime in the city. The candidate in question, however, is an anthropomorphic rabbit from the future named BunnyLord, and… look, it doesn’t make sense to me either. Better to focus on the gameplay.
Roll7′s press release on the first day of Rezzed announcing the game was both extremely tongue-in-cheek, and praised the game as a move into the 2¼D era of gameplay thanks to “the liberal, almost irresponsible use of ISO-Slant™” – perhaps the first 2¼D technology promoted as such. What this means in practice is that while the game is played in 2D, a tap of a button can move you into cover in the background, leaving you safe from enemy fire albeit unable to move away safely.
However, pressing the same button while moving will make you dive in that direction before hiding – a quick action that knocks down guards on route, leaving them vulnerable to a one-hit execution. This, mixed with a button to fire and another to use any collected special weapons found (throwing grenades, dropping mines, or sending cats on suicide missions. Yes, really) defines your abilities, all of which ultimately come back to being ways of gibbing things.
Enemies take cover too, and this leaves you trying to pick the right moments to step out and shoot them without being hit yourself. There is a curious mix of power and vulnerability in your character (the only one available in the demo, but the complete game is promised to have several to choose); while health will regenerate when not being shot, this doesn’t help when a slip-up can leave you attacked by multiple groups. Death comes quickly and regularly, although quick reloads mean there is little delay before getting back into action.
You carry an infinite number of reloads for your weapon, but the pistol shown in the demo only carried eight rounds – and unlike many modern titles there is no automatic reload. It is likely the reasoning for this is both one of increasing the challenge and offering tactical options, as enemies react to the sound of a weapon reloading. The click of a magazine being removed usually results in enemies charging your hiding place, which if surrounded or unprepared is usually fatal. It can play into your hands though – on one occasion deliberately reloading a near-full magazine to make the overconfident guards head my way… over the land mine I’d left on route. Cue high-pitched squeals of pain, pixelated gore pasted over the walls, and a sense of satisfaction.
The pickups mentioned come in two varieties – special weapons, usually things with an explosive effect and limited usage; and ammo types, dropped randomly by enemies and only lasting for a single magazine. For the demo – which was an alpha and apparently has already been left behind by the game’s current state – these were random, meaning on one run you might get explosive rounds to clear a room in record time, while the next you’re working with drill rounds to fire through doors.
The game is very darkly humoured – rabbits and cats and donut thefts all combining into something you couldn’t take seriously, even with the pixel-art blood or cries of the guards being blasted out of the way. I cannot lie – even in this early state I enjoyed my run through, smiling guiltily as another explosive was tripped, or (far more regularly) restarting as quickly as possible to get back into action… and also feeling a warm glow in my ego when told I was the first person to complete the demo over the weekend.
Fitting nicely into a simple-yet-challenging category, Not A Hero looks like it might cover a strange area in gaming by being difficult but not frustrating, and perhaps more significantly fun to play.
Not A Hero is due for release on PC, Mac and Linux in the summer 2014, with the possibility of console releases to be announced.