Turnip Boy Robs a Bank PC Review
I can’t believe we got another entry into the Turnip Boy universe but damn if we aren’t all better for it. TB Commits Tax Evasion was a fab little time-waster that came and went quickly, leaving only a trail of chuckles and sly grins in its wake (as well as the legacy of having the best video game title ever, of course). But even when it ended with stating that our dumb-dumb ‘hero’ would return, it was hard to believe due to the nature of the title – a short, narrative and gag-heavy simplified action adventure with an explosive ending. Turnip Boy Robs a Bank, as it turns out, is actually completely different, being an Enter the Gungeon-style bullet hell roguelite with an invincible dodge-roll and procedurally generated levels (sort of, although don’t go getting your expectations up from that altruistic comparison). As well there’s an extraction mechanic based on surviving the run by grabbing your loot and making it to the exit, as is the latest trend.
Well, I suppose that’s one way to build on the original, going even further off the rails and just doing whatever you want. But somewhere in that decision is exactly what makes these games so delightful. All that ever seems to matter is what will win the biggest smirk from the player and what path is the most entertaining. Making sense is the absolute last thing considered, as it should be! Honestly, what strikes me most about them is just how much fun the creators themselves seem to be having with the crazy little world they’ve made – both overflow with charm and silliness and joy. They make you feel like you’re part of a collection of inside jokes and even though their mechanics are particularly light and their content shallow, they each guide you through their short 4/5-hour play times with a string of surprises and constant quips that will surely have you rolling your eyes as you crack a smile.
Out of nowhere Turnip Boy gets roped into robbing a bank by one of his dad’s old gang buddies. And the bank they’re looking to hit is owned by the third ex-member of the crew and apparent betrayer of your old man. Looking past the fact everything got destroyed in the first one yet the bank still stands, it turns out the unfortunately now-homeless residents took up shelter within the ever-expansive halls of this fortress and they all want something from you… again. So within each run the player is not only aiming to progress by making it through a handful of fights with security guards, mutants, and monsters, or fill their limited pockets with cash and valuables for upgrades but also to complete side missions, usually in the form of fetch quests. See, advancement is frequently choked by the need for specialist equipment that functionally acts as an in-game paywall requiring you to make enough money and then spend it on what is essentially a one-use key. The point being that you have to end a run in order to buy these things, as well as any actual stat upgrades like health, the amount of loot you’re able to carry, and shot-speed. So getting in and out is all part of the grind and the side-missions just sort of act as a to-do list of distractions as you work through a heist.
For each of the four zones, once enough of these blockades have been removed, there’s also a boss to face and although they all have their unique oddities and designs, they do end up feeling samey. Well, combat throughout the whole game does, really. I suppose the lack of any abilities or variety in obstacles and enemy patterns can be felt pretty early on. There are a decent amount of different weapons to find and play with but their range of usefulness varies massively so you’ll end up quickly finding a favourite or two. Even the randomised stage layouts are sorely lacking as there are really only a few of them and they don’t affect the main route, instead acting as extra side areas that present their own set of quests and never seem to show up when you have something to hand in. Now it may sound like these are complaints but I just want to make sure that people don’t go in looking for a full roguelite experience, with hundreds of rooms, unlockables, and end-game goodies. There is no challenge to be found here or an iceberg of mechanical nuance. Turnip Boy Robs a Bank is a thin vertical slice of these genres wrapped in layers of farcical humour, designed to deliver on a bite-size evening or two of amusement. It does that exceedingly well.
We need more of this. I want to see more pet projects, experiments, and snack-size escapades. I won’t act like I don’t have hundreds of hours in Gungeon, Hades, and other similar inspirations but to be able to jump into either of the Turnip Boy games and come away satisfied and ready to try the next thing is special. It may sound weird but it’s a very videogame-y videogame, before everything had to be a live service, or an identical entry into an annual franchise. Sometimes games don’t need to be about making art or getting the player to cry, they can also just be a way to relax or a reason to laugh. They don’t all need to try and be a genre-defining groundbreaking innovation – they can just be fun. Something you screenshot and send to your friends to get them in on a particularly stupid pun. The Snoozy Kazoo team have shown us this twice now and I can only hope they continue going strong – each new game pushing the mental storyline even further and exploring different avenues of gameplay. Let’s just hope that their passion and creative freedom opens a few eyes in what has become a devastating human-devouring machine of an industry.