No More Heroes 3
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Marvelous Europe Limited
Platform: PlayStation (also available on Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 13/10/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Striking Back for the Third Time
No More Heroes 3 is a personality-soaked hack-and-slash beat-em-up featuring the obnoxiously charming Travis Touchdown. Though I had heard of the series before, this is my first time trying it out. Did my first adventure in the series go well? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The first thing I noticed was the way the story was presented. Unlike many of the other larger budget titles I had played in the past such as the Ninja Gaiden Trilogy or Mario Strikers Battle League, No More Heroes 3 had the artistic flare and creativity that I often look for in independently developed games. The cutscenes are crazy, the art style is unique, and most importantly, the characters were distinct and memorable. I was impressed and continually interested in what the game had to provide narratively.
The story itself was also interesting. There were two separate plotlines that blended seamlessly. I enjoyed waiting to see what zaniness I would have to navigate next and even enjoyed how the story was portrayed using several mediums. Sometimes the cutscenes would be drawn in an animated style, sometimes it would be as though my main character was featured on a podcast, and other times I would watch cutscenes using the character models from the game. This helped keep these cutscenes interesting, especially as I was getting accustomed to these new visuals.
Unfortunately, while I enjoyed many aspects of the storytelling, I often found myself burdened by the excessive amount of cutscenes. Though I enjoyed them, they certainly slowed down the pacing, especially when they were unnecessary. Specifically, the podcast segments did not provide value to my playthrough. While they are skippable, I found it odd that I continued watching segments of the game that had little significance.
Carrying over Into Gameplay
Much like the art direction and overall design, the gameplay immediately excited me. No More Heroes 3 has fast and fluid gameplay. I could run around, slash at my enemies with a laser sword, and dodge through enemy attacks. I thought the core combat mechanics were a lot of fun to mess around with. It was especially rewarding to get perfect dodges, which activate when I dodged just before an enemy attack hit me. This slowed down time for anyone but me, allowing me to rack up damage easily. I thought it was an excellent way to reward me for staying vigilant.
In addition to those more standard moves, there were special moves I could activate on a cooldown. These were large and dramatic, ranging from a midair dropkick to slowing down time itself. These were fun, and I enjoyed learning how to implement these powerful techniques into my play style. I was even able to transform into a robot at some points, giving me incredibly powerful missiles. Mastering these different things was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the constant decision-making I underwent considering when to use them. These made the game more dynamic and had it stand out from other titles in the genre.
Further, No More Heroes 3 features a unique kind of stamina meter. Instead of being bound by limited movement abilities, my character was inhibited by a stamina bar for his beam sword. I constantly needed to recharge my sword as I was playing. While this was initially annoying, I liked how it forced me to consider my actions and kept me from repeatedly performing the same moves.
Finding Something Familiar
Even though many elements of the combat system were interesting, there were also many parts of No More Heroes 3 that bogged down the experience. The first part that disappointed me was the overworld area. I honestly thought I would enjoy the open aspect of the game once I began. However, walking was slow, and using the bike, while faster, was significantly more difficult to control. Even assets as menial as a mile marker would stop me dead in my tracks, launching me wildly into the air, completely halting my progress. If this was not tedious enough, the environments themselves were not even that appealing to look at. Most of the time, they were just buildings or terrain. I did not enjoy traversing the hub world and found myself getting frustrated any time I was delayed from getting back into the action.
Moreover, the lack of enemy variety also prevented me from truly getting excited to rush back into the game. Many of the fights that took place were incredibly similar, as many of the enemies were the same. In fact, halfway into the title, I had seen all the basic enemies. It was incredibly disappointing to continue fighting enemies with the same patterns, especially since I was continually getting better at defeating them and the enemies only increased marginally in power. The lack of continual variety made the game much less exciting as I played it more.
Additionally, I did not like how each chapter was segmented. There were small challenges I needed to complete where I was pitted against enemies, needing to kill them all before being able to progress. I thoroughly enjoyed these sections, as I enjoyed the combat and was excited to try No More Heroes 3 for the combat. Unfortunately, that was not the only objective. Before being able to fight the boss at the end of each chapter, I needed to collect and deposit a certain amount of gold. This was incredibly tedious. There were different minigames to complete as well as additional enemy sections that I could complete to earn the required gold.
This system failed to motivate me because none of these alternate obligations was necessarily tied to where I was in the game. I could backtrack and complete simple minigames or take on multiple waves of enemies. Regardless of how difficult the task was, either way, I would earn the money. This made completing the more strenuous task seem fruitless. Unfortunately, my perceived tedium restricted the amount of excitement I felt for completing the challenges.
Big Bad Bosses
While many of the events leading up to the bosses were not as exciting as I would have hoped, the bosses far exceeded my expectations. First, I was impressed by how unique each boss is. Some fights are traditional, like combat with regular enemies. However, others featured more novel mechanics. For example, in one, I played musical chairs. Moreover, new patterns were continually implemented throughout each new boss fight. I had a good time fighting these bosses, and the writers did a great job building them up narratively to make their presence seem powerful. It felt incredible to take out these ferocious foes and I enjoyed practically every minute of the fighting.
The developers even included a system to help alleviate my frustration. Upon death, I could spin a wheel to provide perks for my next attempt. Not only did this incentivize me to continue trying when I died, but it often made the game easier, alleviating some of the frustration that comes with learning boss patterns. Both the wheel and the boss designs complimented each other wonderfully and made No More Heroes a delight to progress through.
In fact, these bosses were so invigorating that they made many of the more tedious elements more worthwhile to conquest. Instead of feeling proud of myself for completing those actions, I was happy I got through them because I was one step closer to fighting the next boss. Though somewhat backward considering the criticism I expressed about the tedium, I rarely found myself logging off because I grew bored. Either I would finish a segment or finish the objectives leading up to the boss fight at the end of a chapter. This definitive structure helped maintain my interest and temper my expectations for the future.
Furthermore, I was also impressed with the sound design. Whether it was the sound effects, the music, or even the voice acting, I was always happy to listen. I even found myself getting different tunes or jingles from the game stuck in my head when I was not playing it. The soundtrack in No More Heroes 3 is solid.
On the other hand, the visuals were a mixed bag. I immediately enjoyed the atmosphere the game established but when looking at the game analytically, there are many areas where the visuals are not as lovely as I would have liked. Specifically, the set pieces in the open world are muddy and uninteresting. I traversed through deserts and warzones which contrasted the zany and energetic themes showcased in the story. Especially considering that the enemy designs are largely the same throughout the game, I found myself looking for more personality that lived up to the amazing cutscenes and boss designs. The visuals were not entirely underwhelming, but despite initially being impressed, I left feeling quite neutral.
I also thought it was important to note the load times. Another major factor in why the podcast segments, traversal and the other menial activities felt so tedious is that each new area or activity required multiple long loading screens. It did not seem significant initially, but it quickly became annoying. Still, despite needing patience, I often found No More Heroes 3 was worth the wait.
Overall, No More Heroes 3 is a lot of fun. Especially when focusing on the combat sections and the boss fights, this game provides some great value. However, this game is not cheap, and currently, there are a lot of segments I found redundant and tedious. Despite that, I still found myself thinking highly of this game. I am captivated by the style and charm, and truly got immersed in the combat mechanics. While not perfect, I am certainly glad I got to experience the No More Heroes franchise and can suggest No More Heroes 3 on sale.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase No More Heroes 3 on the PlayStation Store here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.