Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S
January 18, 2024
First comes tax evasion then comes… major thievery? Turnip Boy Robs a Bank is the new game in the series starring our favourite root vegetable. Abandoning the Zelda-esque adventure format and now tackling the roguelite genre to great avail, Turnip Boy is a whimsical, cross-genre success story.
Turnip Boy Robs a Bank takes place after its predecessor and quickly reacquaints the player with our hero as he tangles himself up within the Pickled Gang. Spearheading the operation is Dililitini, an animated pickle that’s a Don in mob getup attire. The brains of the operation is Annie the avocado. The real boots-on-the-ground operator is you, Turnip Boy, going on roguelike runs to loot a bank, overcoming a series of kooky bosses, partaking in many a sidequest, and acquiring upgrades all while in search of the Botanical Bank’s grand Mysterious Motherlode. It’s a loose plot that isn’t to be taken seriously because Turnip Boy as a whole isn’t to be taken seriously. Turnip Boy will throw its weird world, humour, and crazy characters at you with reckless abandon. Thankfully, it’s all the game needs to drive the player forward. What? Did you expect layered depth in a game filled to the brim with puns and gags?
Within the Botanical Bank are varying biomes that get more bizarre as you navigate through them, nonsensical to the typical architecture you’d expect from such a facility. Rooms with office desks will open up to encampments found with overgrown greenery. A stone’s throw from there is an area overrun with hay that is home to a gigantic, villainous candy apple boss. Suddenly, you’re invited to a base that’s home to mushroom cultists labelled the ‘Shroominati.’ The game does a great job of constantly lobbing new and interesting areas at you filled with equally intriguing and hilarious characters with quests to offer.
Maybe you have to chase and shake down a vegetable until he finally issues you the divorce papers his ex-wife is desperately seeking or maybe you’ll follow up for an artist that did a stream overlay for an influencer only to have them vapidly pay the artist in ‘exposure bucks.’ Once or twice you’ll bump into surviving characters from the prior game, mad at you for going above just committing tax evasion and also killing members of their family and, oh yeah, a God. These escapades are entertaining, though they aren’t as easy to track as I would have liked, often leaving me having to return to an NPC more than once to be reminded of my goal.
If it weren’t at all obvious yet, a lot of your enemies, friends, and other NPCs are all food. Whoever’s behind the writing at developer Snoozy Kazoo really knows how to run the mile with food-related puns and surprisingly topical humour. You’ll purchase key upgrades required to progress on a black market website known as ‘Gregg’s List.’ A boss labelled as ‘Mecha Chad’ will try their best to distract you mid-battle by filling up your screen with live-action soap cutting and slime videos à la a TikTok video. That kind of stuff. Every character you meet, no matter how minor, will always have weird anecdotes or hilarious musings to hurl at you. Humour is a thing that is always hard to get right in games. Here, Turnip Boy Robs a Bank manages to land just about all of it.
Of course, a roguelite is nothing without punchy combat. Turnip Boy Robs a Bank delivers this, taking on an isometric perspective and being gun and melee-focused. On offer are many, many weapons and upgrades for you to take down the mooks such as worms and rats or the more formidable police force (yes, they appear as donuts, rashers of bacon, and the like) that eventually come to hunt you down. The expected shotguns, pistols, SMGs and more are all present, but if you turn in your guns at the end of a successful run at your HUB, you can bolster your arsenal with RPGs, ray guns, money guns and so on. One can even find impromptu melee weapons dropped by foes such as gigantic crowns or a fish, reminiscent of the same mechanic in the excellent Going Under from 2020.
The name of the game is all about avoiding projectiles and gunfire from regular foes but also engaging in bullet-hell style combat mid-boss encounter. This is where your dash (animated as a charming half-nudge forward before collapsing on your face) will come in handy in navigating an arena. While you’re toppling foes and making your way through rooms, you’re uncovering more of the dark secrets within the Botanical Bank and getting closer and closer to the motherlode. You’re always making money with each fallen foe and crushed box, but there also becomes this engaging risk vs reward with the notoriety mechanic. Throughout each run, there’s a timer ticking down and when it reaches zero the police will come out in full force making everything more difficult. So you can either choose to push through that little bit for extra pocket change or make the frantic dash back to the start and escape with the van. Risk vs reward is a staple in the genre and this is an engaging example of it.
“…Every character you meet, no matter how minor, will always have weird anecdotes or hilarious musings to hurl at you.”
Roguelites also live and die by their progression system. For it to be worthwhile, you always need to feel like you’re earning something from each run. In Hades, Supergiant made their story and characters so engaging that even if your run goes amiss, there are always new threads and characters to chat with. Within Turnip Boy Robs a Bank, you’re always eager to see more hilarious quests and characters, but there are also valuable upgrades in adding minutes to the notoriety meter, earnable money per run, extra health and so on. I wouldn’t exactly call all these offerings deep or extensive, but it speaks to the quality of the content that I’m always eager to embark on a new run with my weird little guy made out of vegetables in the same way I would seek out new stuff in the genre giants.
There comes a point where the game progresses a little too fast. Excellent news for those like myself who enjoy games to be shorter and tighter (of which Turnip Boy is around a dozen hours), but the double-edged sword soon rears its head. Once toppling a boss, there’s little reason to fight them again as they don’t drop any unique rewards or currency to be spent on other items. The other area that will leave players wanting is that there is not an inkling of endgame content. You roll credits, and might have some quests you haven’t wrapped up yet, then that’s it. Little reason to return. I can easily envisage such content, including even modifiers for runs, popping up in future patches if there’s enough want there. However, I can’t help but feel this would’ve started the game off on an even better footing, catapulting the game from greatness to something amazing.
At the end of the day, I can’t overstate how charming and filled with clever flourishes is Turnip Boy Robs a Bank. It’s incredibly novel to see an adorable little Turnip guy run around and cause havoc with a gun. In the short time it’s been around as an indie IP, I already feel invested in where the series is going and the very mascot developer Snoozy Kazoo has created to usher it forward.
- Thoroughly enjoyable moment to moment gunplay and melee action
- Valuable upgrades and arsonal unlocks make every run feel valuable
- Hilarious jabs and jokes every minute
- Wanted system is a good risk vs reward mechanic
- Run modifiers and endgame content would've helped boost the game's staying power
Turnip Boy Robs a Bank is another successful voyage for the root vegetable. Making the leap to the roguelite genre is form-fitting, providing really enjoyable jaunts through a mysterious bank full of many enticing environments, bosses, and enemies as you engage in frenetic gunplay and melee action. This is achieved via valuable upgrades and a creative arsenal at your disposal to experiment with. The game would benefit from endgame content and modifiers to give it more staying power, but it’s largely made up for by the weird, sometimes irreverent whims provided. Turnip Boy Robs a Bank is hilarious, weird, oh-so-fun, and a joy for every second of play. I can’t wait to see where our little hero goes next. A turnip-led Soulslike? A life simulator? The sky’s the limit!