Don’t want to eat your vegetables? Then they will eat you, in The Walking Vegetables!
You probably haven’t heard of The Walking Vegetables and I hadn’t either until the publisher sent it my way, to be honest. After playing it for a couple of hours there are some things that come to mind. For one, I have played this game before, more or less. There are many similarities between The Walking Vegetables and games like Enter the Gungeon, Nuclear Throne, and even Binding of Isaac to a certain extent. Keep in mind this is far more of a top-down action shooter than a roguelike. Second, you are either going to like this game right off the bat or know that it isn’t your cup of tea. There are no layers to pull back or hidden features waiting for you to discover. The Walking Vegetables is what it is.
Speaking of what The Walking Vegetables is or isn’t — from an innovation standpoint it’s lacking, but what it does bring to the table is a well-done and cohesive game. I enjoyed my time with this title and I think there is something to bite and chew here. However, simplicity and slight repetition are the bread and butter (err, broccoli and ranch) of this game.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes flashbacks aside…
…The Walking Vegetables is a simple pick-up-and-play action game. Imagine Smash TV had a child with Nuclear Throne and that’s this game. The story has something to do with Aliens? Department Radical? Look, its the 80’s and most of the story doesn’t matter. Vegetables are eating people and you need to fill them with hot lead. If you need more than that, then this isn’t the game for you.
Ultimately, the best part about The Walking Vegetables is its co-op play. This game excels as a fun goof-off game that you can play with one of your buddies. Controls are simple and work well on either keyboard/mouse or controller. You start off in the middle of a chaotic city with only coffee, a pistol and your cool car. Suddenly in a pink neon glow, vegetables appear and want to a take a nibble. Start killing and never look back!
There are some finer details than that, but for the most part this is pretty much how the entire game plays. The cityscape is your dungeon and there are a couple of ways you can go. Your basic gun has unlimited bullets but there are many other weapons in this game. from alien rifles and shotguns to rocket launchers. These weapons do have an ammo count, so accuracy is important. Your coffee is a ‘spacebar’ item that you can use on enemies to slow them down. Other forms of your spacebar item can be found as well.
The basic goal is to kill the boss of the level, which is locked behind a giant, evil-looking gate. To open that gate you need to find the key. Sounding familiar so far? To find that key you need to clear enough nearby neighborhoods of wave after wave of vegetables until a little alien shows up and tries to end you. Additionally, there are buildings that you can enter and clear for rewards and chests. These sometimes require keys that are randomly dropped. There is also a shop, usually in the main cityscape area.
The shop allows you make purchases for health, keys, weapons, weapon crates and even unlock new weapons through a special chest that is purchased with alien crystals. Crystals are dropped from bosses. The bosses themselves are all monstrous, horrific vegetables. This is exactly why naturalists think we should do organic foods — maybe they are right?
The game itself is fun and, like I said before, it is cohesive. I haven’t run into any bugs and you can figure out what needs to be done rather quickly. Certain enemies are far more punishing than others but it isn’t going to be difficult for veterans of the genre; there never was a difficulty spike, but learning how to counter foes is the key to mastering the game. Lemons spraying acid juice on the floor while a green onion runs at you like Usain Bolt can be a tricky situation.
The only problem for me when it comes to The Walking Vegetables is death and progression. When you die, it’s game over and back to square one. You lose all your guns and equipment, etc., which wouldn’t normally bother me, but The Walking Vegetables shows its hand rather quickly. There are not many surprises after the first hour or two of playing. You’ve seen all the vegetables, some bosses that can repeat themselves and the gameplay, which doesn’t mix things up. You do have one area where you face an endless wave of veggies, but that is more or less the same of what you were already doing.
Progression is tied to accomplishing certain feats inside of the game, meaning you can have the greatest run but if you didn’t meet certain criteria then you’ve unlocked nothing. These skills/unlockables include things like randomized starting weapons, extra health and other zany skills. It’s a system that feels like it rewards grindy play and I am not exactly into that kind of thing. I would have preferred a system that rewards each playthrough instead of waiting for a ticker to hit a number. That is just me though, and your experience may vary.
Watching an orange explode and then get chased by tiny orange slices never gets old.
The Walking Vegetables is pretty cute, to say the least. The pixel art and sprites are more than fair enough to get the point across. The boss designs are very imaginative and I couldn’t keep my eyes off them — well, they were trying to kill me, but they also looked cool. At the end of the day though, the aesthetic is not going to blow your mind. I think they could have added a bit more customization maybe for the main character or classes. All you can play is this Walter White/Heisenberg-looking dude or the other co-op character, which is a bummer.
When it comes to the effects, however, I think they are top notch. Things look sharp when you shoot and things go boom appropriately. The sound effects suit and everything has the right level of oomph to it; I loved the saw-blade shotgun and firing it felt satisfying.
The music is suitable if not forgettable. I would have loved a bit more of an 80’s Casio thing going, but that is up to personal preference. The Walking Vegetables isn’t going to be scored by John Williams. It just needs to fill in the background while you shoot stuff.
To wrap up this vegetable medley…
The Walking Vegetables is a fine game and if you are looking for something to play with a buddy then look no further. On the other hand, if you have played this type of game before, you’ll notice it doesn’t take enough risks. The theme is cute but it’s not enough to drive the gameplay forward. That said, there is quite a bit of replay value to be had and completing the game is just the start. There are plenty of skills to unlock and that construction dude is guarding something important, I think.
One part I do appreciate is that the price of entry is fantastic. The Walking Vegetables isn’t that costly and it’s going to give you plenty of bang for your buck. Just keep in mind that what you see is what you get. So grab a bazooka and teach that giant potato a lesson. See you in the sequel, The Walking Fruits.
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