Indie games have always been great at offering real charm. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is something built on the love of this charm but the dedication doesn’t always pay off. When humor is at the very center of the experience, it needs to consistently hit or the root will rot and all that effort gets lost in the dirt.
In Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, you play as the aforementioned Turnip Boy, seconds after being hit with a huge tax bill. Although you can read it, you only really have one choice — you have to tear it up. This ends with you losing the greenhouse your late father left you to Mayor Onion, where you have to complete a sequence of rapidly deteriorating tasks to get it back. The formula of the game itself is rather fun. Do a quest, rip up some important document, move onto the next one.
In a sense, this formula is only there as a vehicle to throw jokes at you and solve puzzles. Turnip Boy knows what it is and does it to moderate success. There isn’t really much of a flow to the story or its areas, they just sort of exist for the gameplay and writing to breathe. It’s cheeky in tone — nothing too serious — and this works in its favor. It will throw a joke in every second line giving just enough to not linger. If a joke is bad, it’s just a bad joke you move by easily.
Very early on, you make your way through a forest and come across a berry that’s vocally annoyed about a snail intruding on his land. He murmurs to himself that it wouldn’t be all that bad if he at least paid rent. This is a throwaway sentence that has a semblance of charm but not much more. That is until you come back and hunt down the snail causing all this panic. Underneath his carcass held rent money. Turns out Jerry the snail had been listening. Then you tear up the remaining money anyway. This is one of the jokes that works best in Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. The setup is so ludicrous it can only work in this setting. Its sheer uniqueness delivers real charm.
Not all jokes work to this end goal. The need to throw in-jokes and one-liners every handful of sentences leaves a few much worse off than others. Occasionally, it goes for very on the nose meta jokes that only got a chuckle ten years ago with the irony-laden era of the flash game. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion occasionally feels like your friend who tells your joke after you, but much louder — people don’t like that guy.
Moving to the gameplay, Turnip Boy is set up more like a puzzle game than an action adventure. Although you get plenty of items, they are fairly imprecise and require multiple buttons to change between. You can’t change on the fly, you have to open a menu and switch over. Luckily, there isn’t much proper combat to Turnip Boy — even having boss fights that feel more puzzle centric
There are a handful of central areas, each with its own skills and power-ups. In the vein of a Metroidvania, you can head back to some previous locations and use new skills to unlock new hats or things to tear up. The puzzles get genuinely rather fun as you mess around with puzzles, bombs, and ... gravedigging? This wackiness is accentuated with its cutesy art style and casually catchy music. Everything is designed with a love of the retro and this love is flipped and made fun of in some nice ways. Although it clearly enjoys old games, it certainly doesn’t seem afraid to make fun of them in its own unique way.
There is quite a lot to love in Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion but none of it seems all that original. Most of its design choices could be grabbed from other games that have likely inspired it. The humor is fun but, oftentimes, done elsewhere first. As a bit of light fun some night, Turnip Boy offered enough to keep me happy but it likely won’t stay with me in the future.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion — Verdict
I think it’s quite clear from the name what exactly Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is. It’s a self-referential, humorous indie game about a little turnip that evades taxes. While some of the puzzles can be interesting and it doesn’t stick around long enough to get boring, its general style and humor is something done much better almost decades ago. It’s certainly not bad and has some genuine charm but the incessant need to add jokes to everything leaves the experience feeling a little taxing.
TechRaptor reviewed Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion on PC via Steam using a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on Nintendo Switch.
- Genuinely Quite Charming
- Some Funny Jokes..
- Looks and Sounds Nice
- A Little Formulaic
- ...That Get Tiring