Just as I consider turning vegetarian, it turns out that greens aren’t so good for you.
I’ve given up eating pigs. Not for religious reasons, but on account of a moral conflict; pigs are highly cognisant and intelligent beings that I can no longer bear to kill. As I edge towards reducing my meat intake, it comes as something of a nightmarish vision that I’m sent The Walking Vegetables for review. Heaven forbid my potatoes ever become self-aware.
The vegetables (and fruit) in this 2D twin stick shooter are not possessive of any cute porcine qualities, so that makes their murder a bit easier to swallow. Each variety shares the common feature of being out for your blood, converging on you from all corners of a randomly generated map until you can gun or slash them down.
Shooters like this typically utilise an aerial view. Here, an artistic decision has been made here to lower the angle of perspective in order to see each sprite in profile. While this might showcase the character design of the game’s humanised fruit and veg, it has the unfortunate side effect of distorting one’s sense of position. The incidence of becoming trapped on scenery when evading enemies is too frequent to ignore, even if that scenery does have a bit of Retro City Rampage’s charm.
Were it not for these navigational niggles, the strategy involved in The Walking Vegetables would be lightweight as celery. If my dinner was as stupid as the groceries on display here, I wouldn’t feel too bad about it – whatever the variety they pretty much just swarm you as you pepper the hoards with shotgun or Uzi rounds. Walking backwards in concentric circles will pretty much cover most situations. Sometimes the enemies get stuck, too (most commonly grapes), meaning you’ll have to go find the last fruit to mop up a map.
The moment to moment gameplay is not much to speak of, but there is a roguelike hook here to sweeten the flavour. Within each map can be found buildings to enter and clear for additional rewards, some of which is in the form of items or cash that can be traded for upgrades. Additionally, specific challenge requirements can be met to unlock permanent upgrades. These will be required, since the bosses (giant vegetables) are absolute bullet sponges until you can even the odds.
The Walking Vegetables is a simple premise with minimal demands of the player (beyond whatever time you want to give to it). The taste I’m left with after playing is something akin to cress. Not particularly nutritious in terms of rewarding gameplay, but it kind of works as an inoffensive filling. Courtesy of its bright visuals it even has a mild tang that you wouldn’t take out of the sandwich, but then you’d probably not think to put it on the shopping list either. Probably needs meat.
The Walking Vegetables was provided to us by Merge Games via a download code for Nintendo Switch.