Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, originally released on the Nintendo Switch earlier this year, is a spin-off to the original No More Heroes games with a proper sequel scheduled to arrive the Switch in 2020. Now released on the PS4, is Travis Strikes Again worth picking up before the third installment of the franchise? Let’s find out.
It’s worth noting that I never played the Switch version of the game so I won’t be able to comment on any subtle differences, though after a little bit of research, it seems as though this title is a direct port to PS4 which includes all the DLC, so if you’ve already played the Switch version then you’ve essentially played this version already. It might be worth picking up again for trophies mind!
For fans of the franchise who haven’t played the Switch version though, this is probably well worth a purchase. Although this is a spin-off, it acts as a sort of sequel, continuing from where the previous games left off. The main story revolves around Badman – the father of an assassin who Travis killed in the first game called Badgirl. He originally tracks down Travis, who is now retired and playing video games all day, with the intention of killing him to get revenge for his fallen daughter. However, certain events lead to both Travis and Badman being sucked into Travis’ game console – The Death Drive MK-II. They then learn from the consoles AI – Death & Drive that if they complete the only 6 games that were ever made for the unreleased console, that they will be granted one wish. They then form a truce on an agreement that they will bring Badgirl back to life with the game’s one wish, starting a six game quest which the bulk of Travis Strikes Again is made up of. If you’re not familiar with No More Heroes’ style of storytelling and this all sounds a bit much then this game may not be for you as this is just the tip of the iceberg.
For the most part, the story is on point. It’s no surprise that the humour is a real highlight, using fourth wall breaking comedy much like a video game version of Deadpool (though Travis goes out of his way to remind us that he was doing this before Deadpool was a thing). Travis’ in-jokes such as asking bosses if they’re about to move onto their next phase and suggesting that Devolver Digital buy the rights to a sequel for his favourite video game all made me genuinely laugh out loud. Even each of the six Death Drive game worlds have their own story which each brings something new and exciting. Again, the way Travis approaches each one is full of non stop humour which I found to be the driving force that kept me wanting to play, which is fortunate as there’s really not a lot else keeping me glued to the controller…
Gameplay is a real mixed bag, which for the most part falls on the side of repetitive and boring. Travis once again has his trusty beam katana which he uses to hack n’ slash his way through various enemies which appear as in-game bugs. It’s all very straightforward with the player hitting square button for a light attack and triangle for a heavy attack. Once the katana has built up enough energy you can unleash a super attack and there are also plenty of ‘skills’ to be used such as firing a beam of electricity, slowing down time or even throwing an enemy. All of these are fun to use but the problem lies with how easy it is, there’s never any challenge to the combat and I often found myself mindlessly holding square as I cut through waves of enemies. Even when I had to mix up the attacks against stronger enemies it never felt like much of a challenge, not even the bosses pose much of a threat with not one of them taking more than two attempts to crush. Another issue is that each of the six Death Drive games give off the impression that you’ll be playing a completely different gameplay style depending on which one you’re playing, this really isn’t the case. Each one is the same basic hack n’ slash mechanics just with a different camera angle, sometimes side on for a side scrolling effect and sometimes top down for more of an RPG feel, either way it’s all bells and whistles with no actual change to gameplay. There is sometimes a mini game before the main combat levels which was a nice treat and change of pace. It’s also worth noting that you can use either Travis or Badman, both of which can be leveled up how you wish and used for couch co-op but unfortunately that just makes the game even easier. The gameplay does feel fun to use but grows tiresome very quickly and is nowhere near up to the quality of the comedic storytelling that goes along with it.
Although I keep praising the humour of the game, there were times when I felt the writers may be using it as an excuse for the more dull moments of the game. The best example of this is that in between the main six worlds, you have to participate in a visual novel part of the game which leads into the more exciting Death Drive game. The first time this happens, it drags big time. It starts off as funny and nostalgic but just seemed to go on and on which led to me fighting the urge not to just skip the lot! When it came to do this again before the third game, the characters openly discuss not taking too long in case in impacts their metacritic score… although this did make me laugh, I also felt a level of frustration that the game developers were aware they were dragging parts of the game out but felt they can get away with it by making it part of the in-joke.
Visuals look great, bringing a very particular anime style that is not uncommon to see on the Switch but also carries over perfectly to PS4. The soundtrack goes all in on the arcade nostalgia which you’d expect and although there’s nothing wrong with it, I’d say it’s not exactly memorable either. There are some pretty cool cosmetics (well one) which gives you the ability to buy different t-shirts for Travis and Badman, giving the player a wide selection of choices which include designs from popular indie games such as Undertale, Hollow Knight and Hotline Miami as well as some other cool little surprises I won’t spoil here. Unfortunately though with the ever changing camera angles often being quite far away from the action and Travis constantly wearing a giant purple jacket, you don’t often get the satisfaction of seeing the t-shirt you just purchased unless you’re saving the game in one of the games hilariously designed toilet cut scenes.
Travis Strikes Again is a fun little addition to the No More Heroes franchise which if you’re already a fan, you will undoubtedly love, especially if you missed this the first time around on the Nintendo Switch. However new players (and maybe even some returning ones) will be welcomed in with hilarious storytelling only to be let down by some lackluster gameplay which appears to be a lot of fun on the surface, but soon falls apart when looking for even a little bit of depth. If you fancy a mindless hack n’ slash with a ton of laughs along the way then definitely give Travis Strikes Again a go, though for players looking for a little more, maybe wait to see what No More Heroes 3 offers up.
I give Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes on PS4