In today’s world of gaming, imagination is key. The market is fast becoming a crowded pool of hit and miss titles, more so for the indies, meaning that it takes something quite interesting and distinct to stand out. That leads us to the newly released The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition. Now, whilst that’s clearly a mouthful, and whilst I wont pretend that it’s going to blow your socks off, what I will say is that this is a game that holds its own. It’s simple by concept, but structured in such a way that it’s built to last. The question is, will this be one of your five a day?
In essence, The Walking Vegetables is a wave-based game in which you take on the role of a character that’s not so dissimilar in appearance to Breaking Bad’s Walter White. This bad ass is contacted by the authorities to help rid the world of an infestation of alien vegetables, and fruit, I might add. This, by and large, sets the scene. I want to make a special mention before we dive any further, and this isn’t something I usually take the time to highlight. If you’re epileptic, I heavily suggest that you pass this by. This game flashes like there’s no tomorrow, like, really bad.
Hell, even just sitting on the pause menu gave me a headache. So, take that as fair warning. Please. Moving on. The Walking Vegetables is a top-down twin-stick shooter, in which you basically work you way through its interconnected environments, blasting foes to smithereens, until you come up against the boss. You’ll know when this happens as a small alien will land in a nearby area, and once defeated, huge boss doors will open for you move through. I’ll forewarn you, these are pretty tough. This is certainly a game that requires some perseverance.
Most of what you would expect to see in a game of this type is reliably present and accessible from the game’s hub section. Here, you can choose to play local co-op, which does indeed make the game’s difficulty a bit more fluid. There’s also the ability to browse through skills; unlocked through fulfilling specific requirements of varying complexity. For example, one skill sees enemies fleeing from you momentarily when you run out of ammo, in exchange for defeating a total of thirty enemies with the last bullet in your weapon.
That’s much easier, mind, than earning a skill that sees all bosses losing a quarter of their health by default, which consists of killing a boss with just one heart. Like I said, these skills vary from being achievable, to freakishly hard. That said, the trek is typically worth the reward in the long run. When you’re done familiarizing yourself with the game’s fundamentals, you’re ready to step outside of the hub and dive straight into the action. It’s fitting, given the game’s vibe of the 80s, that you’re spawned in via the iconic DeLorean.
Nevertheless, you’re dropped into the game’s city, which is presented to you on a grid-like backdrop. Movement is tethered to the left stick, with aiming tied to the right stick, shooting applied to RT, and a melee function via RB. You’re able to pull up the game’s grid map through LB, allowing you to swiftly check the areas that you have visited, as well as indeed the areas that you’ve yet to clear. Much like any other given twin-stick shooter, it’s a very easy game to pick up and understand. So, what’s the overall crux of play within?
When you spawn in, you’ll moving around the city, blasting a range of alien veggies that come at you from all angles. Once you’ve killed all the enemies in a grid, you’ll be told that that area is clear, encouraging you to move onto the next. You’ll notice that specific buildings have locks on them. In order to access them, you’ll need to find keys through smashing boxes and environmental objects. Oftentimes you’ll find keys in other grids, so there is a degree of light backtracking involved throughout each and every attempt.
New weapons can also be found in the same way, as well as from dead enemies. You’ll start your run with a mere pistol, and although it’s both robust and capable of keeping your five a day away, it’s not quite as damaging as the game’s heavier weaponry. I favored the bazooka, together with the alien pistol, both of which have high damage outputs and can clear a grid in no time at all. That being said, your pistol has infinite ammo, whereas consecutive weapons do not, so it pays off to conserve your ammo in the grand scheme of things.
Hitting LT will pull up your weapon wheel, allowing you to quickly swap to and from your tools of destruction on the fly. When you do find a key and access a locked building, you’ll often need to ensure that you clear it, regardless as to whether the area that it resides in has been cleared or not. Typically, it’s well worth your time and effort given that chests that you obtain from these buildings will serve you with heaps of useful goodies. That being said, clearing a grid will sometimes dish up a chest too, though, you’ll usually need a key to access.
The general rule of thumb is to smash and kill anything that you come across. Doing so will normally balance out the fields of play quite fairly. The game deals in two currencies; gold coins and radrocks. The former is frequently obtained through defeating enemies, whereas the latter is much rarer and mostly drops in chests and from bosses. These currencies can be spent at the in-game shops, which, much like how the game’s city works per-run, are randomly generated. These shops are certainly worth a trip once you’ve got the money.
Here, you can buy new weapons, medkits, keys, and so forth with your gold, or, you can spend those ever so elusive radrocks on fast-traveling, swapping unwanted weaponry for more gold coins, and other useful tidbits. The shop’s wares will cycle on each run, offering different goods as a result. With that in mind, there is a bit of a grind involved, simply due to the amount of gold coins and radrocks that are usually required for any given exchange, but that doesn’t take away from the fun. Like I said, this is a game that’s designed to last.
Eventually, as alluded to above, you’ll stumble upon a small alien that resembles Monsters, Inc’s Sully. This little dude carries with him the boss key, and once defeated, a huge boss door will spawn in your immediate area. Boss battles vary tremendously, and all come with their own unique attack patterns. Should you prove skillful enough to defeat them, you’ll then be taken to your next location to rinse and repeat all of the above. If on the other hand, you bite the dust, you’ll be shown all of your stats before going back to square one.
The game’s UI is very clean and well laid-out, charting most of your necessities in the upper left corner of the screen; health, key count, and currency. You’re able to hold up to four weapons at any given time, so it pays off to play around with the several weapon types on offer to ensure that you’re carrying tools that you’re good with. Should you put in the time and effort to unlock the aforementioned skills, you’ll eventually make life in The Walking Vegetables somewhat easier, due to these skills being permanent through successive runs.
The gameplay itself is very fast-paced and constantly exciting, alongside controls that prove to be fluid and precise from the get-go. I quite enjoyed the hectic nature of the game, with it regularly trying to push you into a corner due to the sheer amount of foes that will run at you from all angles. Though, despite how tense and exhilarating the game initially is, it does become quite tedious after a few hours of play. This is a game that you truly have to invest quite a lot of time into, arguably targeting die-hard fans of the concept in the process.
With that in mind, I did appreciate the game for its variation across both its enemies, and its locations. There’s no shortage of foes to tackle, and several, well designed environments to traverse through. The game sports a very vibrant aesthetic, with lots of fine details amidst its wonderful splash of colors. This all goes hand in hand with the game’s decent soundtrack, setting that 80s mood distinctively well. The bottom line in all of this is that, for its price, there’s little to grumble about, but, to get the most here, you’re going to need a lot of time.
The Walking Vegetables doesn’t quite manage to rub shoulders with the best of its kind, but, it certainly offers a fun and entertaining twin-stick shooting experience, nevertheless. Special mention goes to its tight handling and its responsive feedback, which merges remarkably well with its non-stop, fast-paced gameplay structure. The only problem here is, by design alone, there’s one hell of an initial grind to overcome.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.