It’s tough to look at Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion and not be immediately charmed. It may come across as a Link to the Past-style action game on its surface, but there is more beneath the soil here. Snoozy Kazoo has created a funny and engaging world to play in, with new twists and items constantly urging you to play until the end. While its ending arrived sooner than I would have hoped, I was pleasantly surprised by its depth and characters.
Story – A Taxing Journey
Turnip Boy doesn’t waste any time beginning its story. Usually, a fantasy game would open with a lengthy prelude, but here you are asked to tear apart your bills. Apparently, our hero has been doing this for quite some time, and Mayor Onion is furious. He decides to hire the criminal as his assistant and use him for work until his debt is paid off.
Turnip Boy is an incredibly quiet and curious vegetable. He fills in the role of the silent protagonist surprisingly well, using only subtle facial expressions to convey his emotions. He also seems mostly impervious to everything happening around him. As specific story beats surprised and sometimes horrified me, he would always look on with a smile and an innocent yet empty stare. I found him and his interactions with the world to be both endearing and surprising.
Not only did I find the titular hero charming, but I found myself going out of my way to talk to every NPC I could find. Snoozy Kazoo has done a wonderful job creating a lively world with mystery and humor weaved throughout. While playing, it wasn’t hard to imagine this world adapted into a show similar to Adventure Time because of how creative and alive it feels. There is a quirkiness to everyone in this game that was surprisingly reminiscent of the characters from Earthbound.
I had a feeling that this would be a short experience, but I was a bit shocked and disappointed when credits rolled after only a couple of hours. The ending was satisfying enough, but I really feel like I could have spent another 3-4 hours with these characters. While the player can return to find collectibles after the final boss, there is not enough side content to justify going back. Fortunately, the developers have plans to support their project with free updates for the next few months.
Gameplay – Its Crime Time
Playing the game is simple enough and shouldn’t be unfamiliar to anyone who has played A Link to the Past. The first and only thing Turnip Boy knows to do at the beginning is trip. I was initially confused about the point of this button, only to realize it was essentially your “dodge” action. I didn’t end up using it very often, though, as enemy attacks were simple to predict and avoid. After receiving a sword in the opening moments, I began taking down snails, worms, and other vegetarian threats.
Combat remained an easy task throughout, minus a few of the boss fights. Many enemies go down after one hit, and if they ever attack you, health is always easy to find. I found myself wanting to walk around foes instead of engaging with them during the second half of my playthrough. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the end-level bosses. I actually found these battles to be both complex and fun. I’m grateful that I only saw the “Game Over” screen a few times, but I wish it challenged the player more consistently.
When you’re not fighting for your life, you must solve some pretty interesting puzzles to continue your never-ending journey to pay off debt. Besides a sword, the other item you will use the most is a watering can. This item is used to solve most problems, from growing new crops to forging new paths. While its combat left me wanting more, I was genuinely surprised with the brain teasers scattered across the overworld. Many of them had me scratching my head for a few minutes before finally having that amazing “A-ha” feeling.
Graphics & Audio – Shapes and Beets
I was immediately sucked into the universe of Turnip Boy because of its gorgeous Zelda-inspired pixel art. I was worried that it would look like the same green forest until the end but was surprised by how diverse the world was. From an abandoned farm to a creepy graveyard, I was shocked by where our hero’s journey led him. The character art is wonderful, as each NPC looks and feels unique, despite being just another vegetable.
I also really loved the music created for this game. It starts incredibly soft and ambient in its opening moments, like the calm before the storm. But as our hero continues to avoid financial responsibility, it becomes more electronic and playful. Across different levels, you will hear multiple genres, from light jazz to hip-hop-inspired beats. Certain elements of the song that plays in The Forsaken Farmhouse reminded me of early J Dilla, while many other tunes had me irresistibly tapping my foot to the rhythm.
The sounds of Tax Evasion may have been my least favorite part of the entire experience. Possibly a reflection of my age, but I didn’t particularly appreciate how Turnip Boy burps every time he finds health. The first time I heard it, it broke the illusion of the world for me. While everything in the game is charming and often silly, it rarely ever uses cheap gimmicks like a burp for a chuckle. The script made me genuinely laugh multiple times, so the inclusion of this effect just felt off.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion was reviewed on PC.