Shooty Fruity isn’t a game that anyone asked for, but it exists anyway. On the surface it looks like a shallow combination of Job Simulator’s slapstick comedy and hand-focused gameplay with a wave shooter focused on grotesquely murdering fruit and other grocery goods. In reality that isn’t far from the truth, but in practice it combines into something far more entertaining than you’d rightly expect.
Armed with pistols, revolvers, shotguns, grenades, machine guns, and tons of other weapons it’s up to you, the everyday normal grocery store cashier, to unload hundreds of bullets into countless tomatoes, apples, and strawberries.
The premise in Shooty Fruity sounds like it could either be taken out of a horror movie or a children’s storybook. One day, while scanning groceries, the fruit come alive and start to attack. If someone told me this was the plot of a Captain Underpants book I’d totally believe them and that sort of silly humor is exactly what the team at nDreams was going for.
Similar to Job Simulator, players progress through the game by completing individual levels. There’s a board with punch cards you grab and slide into a slot to begin the level. Each stage has three challenges to complete (such as killing a certain number of fruit while using particular power-ups or getting enough points) and you earn a star for completing each challenge. To unlock future levels you need to accumulate enough stars and thus: the gameplay loop of Shooty Fruity is revealed.
Between missions you spend your time in a bright and colorful break room with a vending machine of guns and a small shooting range to practice at.
Levels are broken up into a handful of different environments, but I don’t want to spoil them here so I’ll just mention the first two. At the outset you’ll be faced with a standard cashier checkout lane. Levels start out simple enough with basic grocery items like milk, canned goods, and boxed snacks coming down the conveyor belt. You grab them, scan them, and send them down the chute for customers. The next area was a food court setting in which, instead of scanning groceries, you’re placing food on trays cafeteria-style. It’s got a similar vibe, but serves as enough of a shake up to keep things fresh.
The frantic pace of Shooty Fruity’s gameplay shines through once you scan enough groceries to start receiving guns down the assembly line. Various types of fruit start to slowly roll and bounce down the aisle and it’s up to you to stop them.
By default there’s an aiming dot enabled but that can be turned off back in the break room’s option menu. At first glance the killer food looks innocent enough with mostly grinning faces and big, dumb smiles. In all honesty it resembles Veggie Tales, a popular children’s show I used to watch as a kid, but only if the food items went on a bit of a murderous rampage.
Combining the shooting with another task, like scanning groceries, splits your attention and makes levels way more intense than they would normally be if it were just a wave shooter. In later levels you can’t just swipe groceries without looking since precision placement is needed on food platters and when the food orders start piling up, along with guns and enemies funneling down relentlessly, it can get overwhelming in a slapstick sort of ridiculous way.
So the gameplay loop of scanning food, grabbing guns, shooting fruit, and repeating that is fun and addictive, at least for a little while. There are a few power-ups you can trigger over the course of a level, around a dozen guns to unlock, and somewhere in the ballpark of 30 levels in total so it’s not that there isn’t enough content, but there just isn’t enough depth.
Whereas other “comical” VR games such as Job Simulator, Accounting, or Rick and Morty focus on delivering a clever, engaging story, Shooty Fruity expends all of its creative juices within the first hour. At least when those juices splatter all over the game world, including your avatar’s hands, it’s quite the sight to behold, but that isn’t enough to salvage things completely.
I won’t say I didn’t have fun watching a watermelon explode after my grenade blew up around aisle 5, because I totally did, but after the first six or seven levels it all kind of starts to feel the same. If these sections and mechanics had been part of an otherwise much larger game or were “action” pieces of an experience that consisted of narrative and puzzle elements as well, it would feel like a more compelling package. But as it stands — a wave shooter mixed with simple humor and grocery store mechanics — Shooty Fruity just isn’t sweet enough.
Shooty Fruity releases today on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and on the PSN Store for PSVR for $19.99. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrive at our review scores.