Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Review – A Nice Side Trip (PS4)

Time flies when you’re doing nothing in a trailer. It’s been nine long years since the last new No More Heroes game, and eight since the PS3 port of the first. Director/Producer Suda51 has some plans for the titular Travis Touchdown. But first, a diversion! Read our Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes PS4 review to see if this wait has been worth it, or if Travis was better left in the endzone of his last game.

Traveling Travis

Travis Strikes Again is set seven years after the events of No More Heroes 2. The story begins as a revenge tale involving Badman attempting to take out protagonist Travis Touchdown for killing his daughter. Plans quickly change as a video game console in Travis’ possession forces the two to work together when it transports them into the worlds of various video games. Each of these worlds have different themes, and different play styles, at least at first glance. Mostly, it boils down to different modes of transportation or a changed camera angle in between bouts of familiar hack-and-slash action.

For instance, one game called Life is Destroy features a bird’s eye view of a city, with an homage to GTA V at the start of every level. Players are tasked with hitting big floating cards, which rotate square sections of the city in order to make a path to get inside a specific house. At this point, the camera zooms in on the inside of the house, and traditional combat resumes. There’s also a racing game that a lot of people will hate, but the ability to change the difficulty level at any time can hopefully help those having problems with its strange shifting mechanic.

Combat is back to being limited to giving Travis and crew a single weapon. In Travis’ case, his trusty totally-not-a-lightsaber-and-don’t-you-ever-call-it-that-or-Disney-will-hunt-you-down-plus-it-doesn’t-really-look-or-act-like-one-so-stop-already beam katana is his only real weapon. Players can use light and heavy attacks, combined with jumping and the occasional powered up super combo. But new for Travis Strikes Again are the Skill Chips. These are earned by completing levels or finding them in certain spots on most levels. Once mapped to a face button, they can be unleashed by holding L1 and pressing the mapped button. The abilities have a cooldown timer that varies based on the perceived potency of the ability. Skill Chips can be freely swapped at any time from the pause menu, though doing so causes the cooldown period to immediately start over. When playing in co-op, each Skill Chip can only be equipped on one player at a time, while some are also character-specific, and others are designed with co-op in mind. It’s an interesting system that can change up combat and even make some battles a bit tactical.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Dodge

Tactical or not, the combat still feels a bit stuck in the past. Attacks cannot be canceled once initiated, and dodging is mapped to the circle button. Since the camera is static, the right stick could’ve been used for at least an eight-way dodge mechanic, but alas this was not used. Shaking the controller is no longer required to recharge Travis’ beam katana, as the right stick is used for this while also pressing L3, though you can still shake it like you owe Travis some money, if that is your desire. Travis Strikes Again is a hack-n-slasher, with some light tactics peppered in.

A surprising amount of Travis Strikes Again’s story is told through a mode called Travis Strikes Back. In the hub area that is Travis’ trailer, his motorcycle can be interacted with. This boots the game into a black-and-green raster-looking screen, complete with the “game’s” interface drawing in slowly upon loading. You can almost see the scanlines as a text-based adventure plays out. Most of these episodes are fairly lengthy, and have a few in-jokes for fans of the series and other games that producer Suda51 has created. Some sequences kind of drag on, but they are easy to skip through if need be.

The Unreal Engine 4 runs the show this time around, which means Travis Strikes Again runs smoothly…most of the time. Once the enemy count gets up near a dozen or so in a small space, things can lag a bit. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, and these instances are pretty rare, but considering this lag was encountered on a PS4 Pro, using a battle-tested engine, on a game that doesn’t appear on a surface level to be all that graphically demanding, simply points to some sort of an optimization issue. Overall, though, things do run well, and boss battles thankfully do not suffer from any sort of performance problem.

Crack Skulls With a Bud

Co-op, as mentioned, is a feature here, and allows for local fun. There’s no noticeable degradation of performance or graphics, the latter of which would have been surprising because Travis Strikes Again isn’t what you’d call a boundary-pushing game in that department. It’s a classic co-op setup, where both players share the same screen, and player two has infinite lives. Perfect for your younger sibling who want to assassinate fools alongside you, and who gets a kick out of watching the game’s…unique save game mechanic involving a toilet. Other than some swear words, though, the game is mostly light on mature subjects. Just maybe don’t play Badman’s story once the main campaign is finished with someone too young!

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is an appetizer for the main course that is sure to be No More Heroes III. Indeed, it is best served in short, bite-sized chunks, which its short levels are perfect for consuming in such a way. As a whole, this isn’t the strongest entry in the series, but then it doesn’t feel like it was intended that way. Sitting down with a buddy in local co-op is a fun first for Travis, and a decent smattering of extra game modes helps to stretch play time a bit.

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.

  • Decent variety in some levels
  • Local co-op
  • Skill Chips add tactics to combat
  • Performance issues with many enemies on screen
  • Storytelling format may annoy some
  • Combat still feels dated