It’s April, and you know what that means! It’s tax season (in the United States). Time to give your government a hefty chunk of your hard-earned cash — unless you’re a sentient root vegetable with a penchant for criminal mischief and mischievous crime. If you want to know what that’s like, then you should play Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, a new Zelda-like indie title from Snoozy Kazoo and Graffiti Games.
Turnip Boy starts off simply enough. You’re a turnip who lives in a greenhouse, doing turnip things, when Mayor Onion comes by to repossess your property. It turns out that Turnip Boy has never paid his taxes. Whoopsie! Fortunately, the mayor will give you a chance to work off your immense debt by sending you around the farmland area to fetch him various items. Along the way you find yourself in an ever-deepening rabbit hole, involving some pretty intense lore, the connections between Turnip Boy and Mayor Onion, and an examination of our own society.
Gameplay is exactly what you’d expect out of a Zelda-like. You travel from town to dungeon, exploring rooms and solving puzzles with the special item located therein. There aren’t a lot of usable items — there’s only a watering can, a sword, a portal maker, and a couple of accessories that let you move objects — but Turnip Boy makes do with what he’s got. On the whole, the puzzles and action are rather simple, but once the portals come into play there are new opportunities for improvisation. Kicking bomb plants between dimensional rifts at the boss is particularly fun.
This game is insanely cute. It expertly walks the line between adorable and cloying. The designs are appealing in all their thick-outlined, pastel-colored glory, while the music is pleasant though not particularly memorable. The dialogue is often hilarious, with various characters casually dropping the hint that the protagonist should learn how to do his taxes. Heck, the main “collectible” in the game is a list of documents that you rip in half, often in front of the person who gave them to you. You’ll get to tear up bills, receipts, books on how to do your taxes, love letters, and more.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion doesn’t shy away from its inspirations either, cramming Zelda references in wherever it can. In fact, crawling through a series of dungeons based on The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening’s Face Shrines was one of its defining moments. The story is surprisingly deep, as well — I found myself wanting to know more about what was going on, and it was the main drive behind playing the game.
It’s not all sunshine and photosynthesis, however. If you’ve ever played a top-down 2D Zelda game, you’ll immediately notice that the action buttons are mixed up, with no way to change them. Item use — including your weapon — is set to A, while inspect is set to B. Back is also set to A and confirm to B for some reason, which makes the whole experience awkward when you’re trying to remember which input does what as far in as the final boss fight. There’s also a lack of invincibility after taking a hit, so getting cornered by an enemy is basically a death sentence. It doesn’t come up often, but when it does, it feels unfair and frustrating.
With as much as it takes from the 2D Zelda classics, you might hope that it would abandon one of the more boring aspects of the series: the backtracking. You spend a ton of time revisiting locations, but since Turnip Boy moves so slowly it’s quite a slog. Finally, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion isn’t very optimized for the Switch, and later levels slow the game to a crawl, with frame drops and slowdown being a constant issue.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion and has some fun doing it
Overall, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is a fun ride, albeit a short one. You can get through the whole main campaign within a few hours. However, it’s worth it for the fun dialogue, interesting story, adorable characters, and ability to tear up financial documents. There’s a lot of surreal Gen Z humor here in all the best ways. While there are issues with the controls, a lack of polish, and a decent helping of padding, I ultimately had a good time with Turnip Boy. It also reminded me to file my own taxes, preventing my greenhouse from being seized by the government for another year.
Release Date: April 22, 2021
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: Top-down Adventure
Publisher: Graffiti Games
Developer: Snoozy Kazoo
A review code was provided by the publisher.