Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Review: The Walking Vegetables [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Sometimes you just need to load up a game, turn off your brain, and enjoy the odd ride. That very much felt like the case during my time playing The Walking Vegetables, a twin-stick shooter where the broccoli stalks you (get it?!?)! Though it’s presented in a number of chapters that each culminate in a bruising boss fight there’s not really any story going on, just some pure arcade-style running and gunning, and for the most part that’s fine.


With a visual style that feels inspired by a combination of The Binding of Isaac and Hotline Miami, with its unusual pixel art style and use of neon colors in places, it does have a shooting feel of its own but it’s pretty simple overall. You’ll wander environments outside and then have the opportunity to go in various buildings. Inside and out you’ll have a variety of veggies and some fruits coming after you and you’ll need to gun them down, throw objects like ninja starts at them, or even use a handy melee weapon to finish them off. You’ll want to break everything you can as well to try to find keys or even a random heart somewhere to heal. Keys open chests or new buildings and as you try to tune your arsenal to try to survive you’ll need all the help you can get. As you play more you’ll be able to unlock skills as well but they tend to take some time to accumulate so whether they’ll have much influence before you lose interest would be a fair question.


There’s a definite variety in the weapons you’ll find, ranging from rapid-fire guns to a powerful but deliberate sniper rifle, to alien guns and things that make a big boom. Since you can only carry two weapons at a time you’ll want to be careful to find a balance of some kind though, stocking on only powerful stuff will tend to leave you vulnerable due to their delay between shots and their more scarce ammunition. Especially in the boss fights you’ll need to be nimble and cycle between your weapons as both are likely to periodically run dry, you’ll need to keep killing minions and picking up extra ammo to keep the damage rolling. Beware that the minions tend to spawn in pretty randomly without much warning in these fights, so cheap hits can happen and are aggravating.


In terms of downsides the biggest issue is that for all of its quirks it plays a bit generically in the end. There are simply a ton of great twin-stick shooters on the Switch and The Walking Vegetables may have some visual style but its gameplay is firmly in the middle of the road. I wish the skills would have thrown a bone earlier on, as perhaps that could show the potential course for how things could continue to develop and change but for the most part they simply take too many runs to gain access to so they’re didn’t do much to help. If you’ve burned through the other shooting options and are looking for a fix The Walking Vegetables works well as a healthy snack but doesn’t quite work as a main course.


Score: 6.5

Pros:
  • An interesting visual style (though a bit derivative of two other indie darlings)
  • Solid shooting action with a variety of weapons
  • Some crazy bosses that throw a challenge at you

Cons:
  • Unless you invest a fair amount of time for the most part unlockable skills are a non-factor
  • Enemy spawns during boss fights can be hard to spot and end up being a bit cheap
  • Up against the many varied twin-stick shooters already on Switch it’s just average at best in terms of originality and excitement