I beat Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion in 2 hours, after which I went back for 30 minutes to get 100% completion on my save file. For a game that sells for 15 dollars, that is objectively a tough sell. Turnip Boy may have a lot of charm, but is that enough to warrant a purchase outside of a major sale?
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is essentially a comedy game, posing an action-adventure title. It’s styled after the retro Zelda games and—as the title implies—has you play as a lil’ vegetable dude that won’t pay his taxes. After ripping up your latest reminder, the mayor of Veggieville kicks you out of your house. You won’t be allowed back in until you’ve paid off your debts through physical labor.
This sets you off on a crazy adventure. You’ll explore a world ruled by vegetable and fruit people, explore the ruins of a lost civilization, and battle your way through hordes of bloodthirsty vegetarians.
The Zelda-style gameplay is simplistic, but well-executed. You’re on a quest to find several important items, which are all hidden away in dungeons spread across an overworld. You explore around the world to reach these places, dealing with navigational challenges and enemies along the way. Most of your time will be spend in the dungeons themselves, where you solve puzzles to progress from room to room, often by using a new item found in that dungeon. A boss-fight awaits at the end, after which the plot develops further and you get to explore new places on the overworld.
What I like here is that the dungeons don’t proceed the way you might expect as a Zelda fan. One dungeon is entirely set outdoors and has you navigate several branching paths, each with significant lore discoveries hidden at the end. Another dungeon has an entire safe-zone inside of it, where helping a bunch of locals will unlock new ways forward. It’s clever, and I admire how this game makes its dungeons feel like such lived-in places.
Then there is the overworld, where you explore and meet lots of wacky characters. On your way between objectives you can discover all kinds of funny dialogue and side-quests, many of which got a chuckle out of me. The writing is casual and lighthearted, while at the same time sneaking in some dark comedy and macabre plot points. I actually found myself getting invested in the story, largely because the game does such a good job at easing you into its later twists.
However, there are some major shortcomings to all this. In regards to the story & comedy, the game is held back by its fixation with memes. So many times you discover a new NPC and wonder what kind of funny interaction you might get, only for them to blankly play out some contemporary meme. A random guy will just regurgitate the Navy Seals copypasta to you or a tomato that’s just a straight-up Jojo reference. It’s just really lame and already makes the game feel dated, barely a year after its release.
In terms of gameplay, the challenge is just incredibly low. The puzzles are all restricted to single rooms and never took me more than a minute to solve. This is because you only have a handful of items with limited use cases each. Combat is also basic: you stab and you dodge. Most enemies will just walk towards you and die in one or two hits, with only a handful presenting some kind of alternate attack pattern of strategy.
Some gameplay features also don’t feel like they got as much attention or like they were deliberately left barren to pad out the already-brief runtime. For example, after completing any dungeon you need to manually backtrack the entire place to get back to the exit. Several side-quests also have you go way back into the dungeons, again tracking to and back through several rooms with no meaningful content in them.
Speaking of padding; there is also the Limitless Train. This is a roguelite component where you go from room to room to fight enemies, while picking up power-ups along the way. It’s very The Binding of Isaac-inspired, but you only ever have one path to follow and the encounters are mostly rematches against enemies and bosses you’ve seen before. I beat it on my first try in under 15 minutes.
In spite of its shortcomings, there is no denying that Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion had a lot of passion put into it. Its world is cutesy and beautiful, the story is interesting, and I got quite a few laughs out of it. Still, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to pick it up at full price, even if they intend to savor every second of the experience. Maybe the game is too easy for you or maybe the comedy doesn’t gel with you. That makes 15 euros for a game that just barely cross Steam’s refund deadline pretty steep.
If you can pick it up on a good discount or in a bundle, then I absolutely recommend giving it a try. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this developer.