It’s been a long, long time coming, but Bunnylord’s election campaign is finally kicking into gear on the PlayStation 4. Originally released on PC back in May, Roll7 have grappled with porting the game engine to the PS4 for the better part of a year – sadly the Vita version was cancelled because of these difficulties. Of course, when you’re a time travelling anthropomorphic purple rabbit, such delays and difficulties don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Whether you were playing last year or are planning to play the game on PS4 now that it’s been released, BunnyLord’s quest to become mayor of the city and save the world from certain doom and destruction remains the same. He gradually builds up a cadre of vigilantes in his Fun Club, to lead the charge in taking down the various criminal gangs in the city, using this and other PR stunts to gain public approval and win the election.
He and his variety of colourfully stylised henchmen don’t exactly adhere to Batman’s code of vigilante conduct though. Instead of looking to deal marginally non-lethal blows, this game is about as bloody and violent as you can get in its 2.5D pixelart graphics. Blood spurts from bodies as bullets land, or as katanas rend limbs, and there are the entertainingly brutal finishing moves, if you knock an enemy to the ground before you kill them.
Pared down to the very basics, this is a cover-based shooter, with a tap of the cross button popping you back into the background behind walls, doorframes, cupboards and the like. You can move from cover to cover, popping out to shoot at enemies who’ve set up shop further down the corridor or are trying to rush towards you, but everything else about the game is there to encourage you to keep moving forward and take risks. You’ll be diving out of windows in no time.
Cross doesn’t just get you into cover, but also sends your character sliding forward, and timing this right lets you barrel into enemies, knocking them down and opening them up to the execution moves. They’re bloody and brutal when you’ve got bullets left in your gun, but nothing compared to the sheer homicidal violence of an execution when your clip’s run dry – that’s something you definitely need to keep an eye on.
Unfortunately, the game sometimes doesn’t trigger an execution even when you’re standing right over the prone enemy. It’s one of the game’s few hiccups, and can easily lead to death as you fire off into the distance and the enemy knocks you back as they stand up.
The executions really are quite excessive when you think about it, but it’s all luridly and incredulously over the top. That’s especially true when you look at the pick ups, which give you ricocheting bullets, drill bullets, exploding bullets, molotov cocktails, grenades which fill the room with ricocheting bullets, exploding cats and plenty more. You’re wielding all of this against sterotypical gangs and mobs from Russia, “Saaf Landan” and the Yakuza.
The same can be said for the anti-heroes put in your charge. Steve is BunnyLord’s go to guy initially, with a straightforward pistol and non-descript style, but as approval ratings go up, you unlock Cletus, a scotsman with a shotgun, the wonderfully Welsh Samantha, the hip thrusting, Uzi-wielding Jesus, the katana wielding Kimmy, and the sheer insanity of wannabe superhero Ronald Justice. They all feel nice and different, from their combat methods to the snippets of dialogue and visual style.
It’s easy to find a favourite, but you also have to be ready to switch in order to adapt to the task in front of you. You’ve got just 21 days to get BunnyLord’s polling and approval high enough for him to be elected, and that equates to 21 levels spread across three locations, and while they’re not too difficult to work your way through and complete the main objective, they’ve each been given three challenges to try and complete as you go. You might have to find a hidden cheese, collect all of the valuable cats, kill all the enemies, do so without taking more than a certain number of hits, and so on.
It’s a hook which feels rather familiar from Roll7’s OlliOlli games, giving you these challenges amidst cunningly crafted levels that compelled me to retry time and again. Regardless of how well you do – beyond simply dying on the job – BunnyLord takes you down to a local cafe for breakfast after you’re done, for a little debriefing.
The unique twist here is that the pre-mission briefing and post mission breakfast have little elements of random dialogue thrown in. BunnyLord might show up with night vision goggles on, talking about how acorns will grow into gun-toting trees, or he might be sat next to a clearly tortured captive.
It can take you in some rather unexpected places, and it’s worth sitting through a few to get a taste for the off the wall humour that runs through the game. Unfortunately, it can repeat itself at times – it’s randomised, after all! – and the deliberately wacky nature of this will have a somewhat limited appeal. Certainly, if you find a cheeky Nando’s a confusing concept, you’ll not have a clue what Bredrin Park references or what the “battycrease” is going on when BunnyLord decides you need to blow up a kitten warehouse… As if he needs a reason.
That hyperactive nonsensical humour flows throughout the game, but it really comes down to the gameplay. With fast and fluid cover shooting that encourages you to keep on the move, married to some clever level design and compelling challenges, it’s easy to recommend voting for BunnyLord.