As you can probably tell by its name, The Walking Vegetables is a game where, instead of fighting zombies, you fight hoards of ravenous, evil veggies. Taking place in the 1980s, the game’s narrative revolves around an alien race arriving on Earth to corrupt those at the bottom of the food chain, setting them loose on the general populace in a scenario right out of your nightmares.
I don’t consider myself a fan of bullet hell or roguelike games, but I found myself enjoying The Walking Vegetables from the start. The more you play The Walking Vegetables, the more you understand the mechanics of the game, and the easier it becomes, making it a great entry into both of the genres for newbies. However, it’s also a relatively deep experience for long-time fans of those genres as well, bringing with it many of the key mechanics fans expect, such as unlockable, upgrade-able skills and frenetic gameplay.
Not only that, but the game is fun to look at, too. The VHS-esque flickering covering almost everything, coupled with the bright saturated pink and blue hues, gives the game a neat 80’s, vaporwave aesthetic (think Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon or Hotline Miami). The music also adds to the retro feel of the game. The effect is that it makes The Walking Vegetables a much brighter and more cheerful twist on the usual games found in the survival-horror genre.
One of the best features of the game is its local co-op. I found having a companion to help me make veggie puree broke up the monotony, and also made the game easier. Something I’d personally like to see is companion NPCs to help you through the single-player campaign. Adding a roster of recruitable characters placed randomly around the world would be a nice touch!
That being said, I do have a few complaints. My main beef with the game is that there is very little instruction on what to do or where to go. As someone who’s not used to playing roguelikes, it was frustrating and confusing to learn the controls. Even looking through the “controls” menu, I didn’t learn how to use certain items or abilities until I started hitting random keys on my keyboard.
The first few times I played through, I spent the time to look through all houses, clearing them out and attempting to find a way to move forward. While clearing the buildings is good for gathering loot, I didn’t understand that my objective was to clear all the outside areas until I had came to the first mini boss fight. For someone more experienced with roguelikes, this kind of discrepancy might not be a problem, but as someone not familiar with that kind of gameplay, it was very confusing.
Still, the satisfaction in getting through multiple waves of veggies, and finding good weapons with which to fight them, goes far in making me like the genre.
Overall, I found the game to be a silly and fun introduction to bullet hells. If you’re afraid of jumping straight into an unforgiving roguelike game like The Binding of Isaac or Enter the Gungeon, maybe consider picking up The Walking Vegetables on Steam.