Real-time strategy and god games have had a hard time finding a foothold on consoles, mostly due to the difficult nature of navigating them with a controller. Games where you are controlling entire armies and managing the building of bases just seems better fit for the quick nature of a mouse and keyboard, though not for lack of developers trying to get their ideas to take hold with analog sticks. Virtual reality has opened the door to additional inputs and strategy mechanics, so console players are getting another shot at experiencing one of the greatest game genres of all time.
No Heroes Allowed! VR is a reinvention of a Sony franchise that gained popularity in Japan on the PSP. Similar to the Resident Evil/Biohazard and Hot Shots Golf/Everybody’s Golf scenarios, there can be some confusion surrounding the name in different regions. Originally titled Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do To Deserve This? the name was changed to avoid any kind of confusion or infringements with the niche Batman franchise that DC set up a number of years ago. What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord? was the title that came out of the change, with No Heroes Allowed!: No Puzzles Either! being the third game in the series, bringing us the No Heroes Allowed! moniker. Finally Japan received V! What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord? R, which now has an English release as No Heroes Allowed! VR, making this one of the weirdest paragraphs about game naming that I have ever written.
But of course we’re not here to review weird game names (though I might have an excellent idea for a new site), so let’s talk about how No Heroes Allowed! VR plays. Placed in the role of the God of Destruction—a position I’ve aspired to fill for years—it’s my job to help Badman and Badmella spawn a bunch of monsters across the land, taking control of a series of outposts, and generally causing problems for the pesky heroes that want to stop the rise of evil. And by problems, I mean kill them all and take over their castles. It’s the other side of the coin from most games we play. Instead of leaving the castle and fighting the slimes and the lizards and other scaly and nasty things, it’s my job to reinforce an expendable army of monsters that prevent the hero from ever accomplishing their goal. No heroes allowed. It’s pretty straightforward.
From the moment I stepped into my role as God of Destruction, I was impressed with the production quality of No More Heroes! VR. This is a well-made game, plain and simple, with a fun art style and a world that I don’t mind staying in for long stretches at a time. Played overlooking a sort of war room table, I get the kind of view that only the God of Destruction can have. At my disposal is a palette of monster nests that I can dot across the landscape, as long as I have dark influence in an area. I can’t just plop down a bunch of slime nests next to the hero’s castle, but I can expand my reach, growing outwards from my own dark tower and slowly cover the environment with denizens of evil.
Things aren’t as simple as spawning monsters though. The creatures I lord over have an ecosystem, or rather, stronger ones feed on the weaker ones. I can’t just instantly spawn a dragon, for example. I need to make slimes, which get eaten by some bugs, which are then consumed by lizards that make food for my dragon to grow big and strong and destruction-y (which, as the God of Destruction, I can claim is now a word). It’s an interesting dynamic, creating an army that not only serves as my fighters, but as food and fuel for the rest of my horde. Managing that balance becomes the push and pull. As stronger heroes rally against me, I have to keep an eye on my monsters, making sure they have the food they need—in the form of other monsters—or my army will perish and Badman will be dragged from the tower in shame.
The complications of this system are also where No Heroes Allowed! VR falls apart. Without any kind of meters or indicators to tell me which monsters are hungry and how much they need to fill their bellies, maintaining the ecological balance becomes a guessing game. No More Heroes! VR goes from being wildly easy to intensely difficult the moment I start watching all my lizards die off because there aren’t enough slimes because they all died when they ran out of food. Part of the fun of RTS and god games is within resource management, but No Heroes Allowed! VR doesn’t provide the tools necessary to effectively manage. Most of my gameplay wound up being the completely non-strategic method of throwing out a bunch of nests and hoping the monster ecosystem worked out enough to make it another few minutes and capture the castle. I was met with success most of the time.
Aside from using virtual reality to stand over a war room table and look down at the battlefield, everything is controlled using the DualShock 4. While the accessibility of the standard PS4 controller is a good thing, it feels like a missed opportunity to not at least give some optional controls with the Moves. VR and individual Move controllers feel like they could open up real-time strategy options on consoles, but No Heroes Allowed! VR plays it safe, meaning that virtual reality ends up being more of a camera gimmick than a necessary feature to play the game. Not that that’s a bad thing—VR adds a special kind of immersion regardless—but the unexplored possibilities are palpable.
Shining through the missteps in gameplay, No More Heroes! VR has a special kind of personality. There’s a deep and quick-witted humor rewarding to hardcore gamers. Numerous references gave me quite a chuckle. There was conversation about a bridge that was the “last guardian” and how it fell into development hell for years, talk of voiceless people in red scarves that love to roam the desert area, and a number other references that I didn’t even catch. The writing is clever in ways that didn’t feel like shoehorning in bad jokes and game references, but rather came across like legitimate parody. Given that the shtick of the entire game is the very meta reference of eliminating hero characters, it all felt quite appropriate and at home. Even outside of referencing other games, No More Heroes! VR has a self awareness, such as Badman commenting on being obscured by menus, Badmella making fun of how I looked in my headset, and both of them telling me not to skip text boxes.
With no way to gauge resource management specifics, the monster-eat-monster ecosystem is a half-baked idea that the player can’t take full advantage of. Gameplay becomes an inconsistent mess of spamming monster nests and hoping it’s enough to overwhelm the heroes. Still, I enjoyed my time in Badman’s tower as the God of Destruction. Badman and Badmella keep things constantly interesting through quips and comments, often self-referential in nature, and the production values are impressive for the VR title. There isn’t a deeply strategic RTS hiding within No More Heroes! VR, but it does offer a clever commentary on one of gaming’s most persistent and often silliest mechanics, and sometimes it’s nice to kick back and be the bad guy for a change.
No More Heroes VR review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on PSVR with a standard PS4. For more information on review scores, please read our Review Policy.