One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows (PlayStation 4) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 13.07.2020

Review for One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows on PlayStation 4

Developer Spike Chunsoft has once again dipped its toe into the realm of fighting games after 2018's lacklustre Jump Force. With One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, the studio has set out to expand on the ideas found in the aforementioned title, while imparting the unique tongue-in-cheek humour that has brought the One Punch Man franchise global recognition. Spike Chunsoft has proven itself capable of delivering meaningful experiences - one need only look as far as the recent AI: The Somnium Files to see that. So… have they scored another hit with everybody's favourite bald hero-for-fun?

On paper, a video game in which you play an overpowered superhero who decimates his foes with a single nonchalant rap of his knuckles shouldn't work. Everyone loves a power fantasy but the premise of a One Punch Man video game sounds unbalanced, especially as a fighting game. Ironically, this is one of the few areas in which One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is at its finest: it utilises Saitama's power in just the right way, with the right regularity in order for his presence to be as enjoyable as it is in the source material. It's a shame this level of quality isn't offered in all other areas of the experience, though.

Screenshot for One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows on PlayStation 4

A Hero Nobody Knows sees you take control of your own customisable hero, who can be just about as dashing - or outright ridiculous - as you want them to be. Customisation is limited at the beginning but gradually opens up as more outfitting options are unlocked throughout the story. In essence, your created hero becomes embroiled in many of the familiar events of the One Punch Man manga and anime, charging you with growing his or her reputation from a mediocre C-class beat hero into a coveted superstar-like S-class. The way this happens is by completing various missions for the Hero Association, whilst undertaking optional side quests from branch offices and troubled citizens along the way.

The moment-to-moment gameplay involves your hero wandering about in a sort of hub world where they can pick up missions, meet and interact with NPCs, customise their own apartment from an unflattering hovel into an abode worthy of a hero, buy new clothes and upgrades and, if you choose to play online, engage with other players' heroes as well. This is a pretty neat feature, allowing you to interact with others during the journeys of their own heroes. Fellow player-controlled heroes can be greeted, friended, fought and accompanied on missions called 'Events.'

Screenshot for One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows on PlayStation 4

Essentially, the hub you occupy between missions acts as the vector through which all A Hero Nobody Knows's modes are accessed - which makes entering the local Versus mode for a quick bout with friends an unnecessary hassle. This simultaneously causes the experience to feel a little flat, an impression felt elsewhere, too, particularly in cut-scenes: while the battle animations are pretty decent, character movement in in-game movies is very robotic. It leaves the disappointing impression that this is a low-quality experience.

It's not all bad, though - while the cut-scene animations leave a lot to be desired, this has some decent anime-like visuals and graphics, and the combat can at times look very stylish and clean. It only manages to feel stylish and clean on rare occasions, though. It has many of the problems that its forebear Jump Force had; namely, it lacks the depth that a good fighting game needs to encourage practice and sustain interest. Too often it feels like a hollow action game and never manages to find cohesion between the two genres it draws inspiration from. As a result it's less like an innovative and synergised experience and more like a mishmash of warring ideas.

Screenshot for One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows on PlayStation 4

The distinct One Punch Man humour is very much present, though, and is a saving grace. It's self-aware and silly, and takes every moment it can to relish this fact. Aside from some of the absurd side quests that crop up, using Saitama in battle is where this title shines; he's not available from the start of most battles and his appearance instead relies on a picture-in-picture timer of his approach, forcing you to hold out against tough enemies until his arrival on the scene. It can be hilarious for a fight to build up in intensity, your created hero barely holding their own, only for Saitama to crash into the scene and lay waste to even the strongest enemies in a single blow. This mechanic subverts gaming conventions as much as it does the superhero tropes in the source material, and is very well executed.

All in all, though, this is quite a run-of-the-mill experience. It shows flashes of potential but never does enough with them to set it apart. A Hero Nobody Knows suffers dearly for its lack of vision and substance in combat and stumbles in delivering a meaningful experience outside of the repetitive fighting missions. This is not a graphically demanding game, which makes it all the more bizarre that it undergoes noticeable frame-rate drops in some areas. This belies a lack of polish throughout the experience, polish that would have perhaps elevated it above an average grade.

Screenshot for One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows is unfortunately not the hero this city deserves… or needs. While it does a good job of capturing the aesthetic and charm of the One Punch Man universe via its cast of recognisable characters and suitably ludicrous character customisation, it doesn't quite hold its own as a video game. Instead, it stumbles in its presentation, content and, crucially, it's combat. With more of a focused vision on what it wanted to be it might have been able to set itself apart, but this is sadly not the case here.

Developer

Spike Chunsoft

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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