Much to developer Snoozy Kazoo’s credit, it takes a while to work out the combination of genres this sequel to the Zelda alike Turnip Box Commits Tax Evasion skilfully blends. After taking in the daft premise, learning its mechanics via the amusing tutorial, and being introduced to its oddball cast of sentient foodstuffs, it reveals itself to be a Roguelike twin-stick shooting dungeon crawler. The fact that this isn’t immediately obvious proves that there’s a lot to take in before making that discovery.
Nor is this just another Roguelike twin-stick shooting dungeon crawler – as convoluted as that definition sounds, it’s a genre that’s thriving. Turnip Boy manages to stand out in several noteworthy ways, with the first to surface being its warped humour and daft premise. Career criminal Turnip Boy has teamed up with a crowd of crooks looking to shakedown a bank for a substantial payout. Old and new faces appear throughout, and the dialogue is both snappy and witty, cramming in topical meme and social media references. I particularly enjoyed a scenario where a budding artist is palmed off with “exposure bucks.”
The concept is easy to grasp and gradually expanded. Initially, just a couple of minutes are on the clock to storm the bank guns ablaze, shaking down customers for cash while taking out guards. When the timer is up, a GTA-style ‘wanted level’ appears with response police swiftly desending from the ceiling. This is your cue to return to the getaway van and retreat to the hideout, which is where perks can be acquired – including essential time/health extensions – and any found weapons exchanged for new starting equipment.
Architecturally, the bank isn’t quite how you might imagine it. In addition to having a lobby, foyer, offices, and vaults, it also houses a dark goo-laden basement, a seed bank, and a bunch of eerie catacombs. It is, essentially, a dungeon – one where you’ll need to beat bosses and acquire their key cards to progress. The bank is also littered with foodstuff folk; not just one or two per location, but dozens of the blighters. Stopping to converse does slow the pace a tad. Fortuently, most have something comical to say about their current predicament, while others provide appropriately silly fetch quests.
A long ‘to-do list’ soon starts to form, and it also isn’t long until progress is impeded by obstacles requiring items from the dark web, accessed by the hideout’s virus-ridden computer. These items vary from the logical (a pickaxe, laser cutter, crowbar, etc) to the absurd – like a body pillow costing £69.
As such, you’re going to need to prioritise your time in the bank. Turn in a couple of quests, explore a new area, try and take down a boss, or simply shakedown citizens to fund the next dark web purchase. Together with exchanging unique weapons, buying upgrades, and looking for photo locations to fill an album, this makes for a very rewarding and compelling experience. Not once did I return to the bank and struggle to find something to focus on. From start to finish, there’s always something requiring your attention.
The Roguelike elements are implemented well. Firstly, there’s a huge pool of novelty weapons – even in the final moments, new types drop – and these are mostly fun to use, spewing bubbles, popcorn, flaming skulls, and lots more. There’s even an angry commenter gun that doles out hateful phrases. Secondly, elevators take Turnip Boy to different locations, varying from one run to the next. You may be taken to a set of randomised vaults, a satanic-style battle arena, or a room where there’s an ongoing quest – such as finding rock pets to cheer up a sad, underbaked, pie. The algorithm appears to be in your favour, generating locations you may need to visit to progress.
Bosses, found in the far-flung corners of the bank, are reasonably challenging due to their reliance on spawning everyday minions mid-battle. Most took me a couple of attempts, and one even called for screen shake to be turned off, juddering so heavily it was hard to tell apart cash piles and green goo puddles. On the subject of options, the developers have gone beyond the call of duty – there’s a whole bunch of accessibility settings, including auto-aiming and a God Mode. Indeed, the package, as a whole, is nicely presented. It moves at a swift pace, the pixel art is well drawn, the music upbeat, and the menu system – based around a mobile OS – is easy to navigate, featuring a quest log, inventory, and a map. Turnip Boy can also be kitted out in a wide range of headwear, some of which may prompt a chuckle.
Turnip Boy Robs a Bank builds on the original’s foundations tremendously, being far more refined and focused, while bulking up on content and enhancing the areas that matter the most. It does however remain quite short by genre standards, with a runtime of around four hours. I should also note that the Xbox version has a few bugs currently – I had to restart the final boss three times before it loaded properly, and one achievement refused to unlock. Regardless, now that Snoozy Kazoo has honed their craft, I hope they have more ideas in mind for other vegetable-based crime-sprees.
Snoozy Kazoo’s Turnip Boy Robs a Bank is out now on PC, Xbox, and Switch. Published by Graffiti Games.