The game is described as a "walking simulator" but doesn't really have much self-contained story, instead being a free-roaming, open world exploration game. In that sense, it's sort of an Adventure Game but more focused on characters and environments. There is no combat, and the only real interaction is through character dialogue. The main goal is to collect emotes and avatars by finding them hidden in different areas and speaking to NPCs. Emotes are taken directly from the streamers' Twitch channels. Avatars are based on the many NPC charaters that can be spoken to throughout the game. Most of them are literally flat cardboard cutouts with a picture on one side. Being shared assets between both player and non-player characters, it can be hard to tell which is which in multiplayer. The player starts as a Vinetoad, the only player-unique appearance in the game.
There are also a handful of abilities that the player can unlock, some which help with navigation and some that are just visual effects. There are 8 areas that the player can explore, with loads of references and callbacks to the many, many games that have been streamed by the entire Vinesauce team. The game was largely developed by Narry with help from GreatSphynx, with character art from regular Vinebooru contributor CheesyDraws.
The game is so full of Shout Outs that it by necessity necessitates its own page. Similarly, there are too many Mythology Gags to include on the main page; they've been placed here for convenience.
In 2021, the game received a sequel in the form of Vine Worlds for that year's Variety is HOPE event, this time transporting the setting across multiple planets.
The game is available on itch.io for no cost. You can download it here.
Tropes present in Vine Realms:
- 100% Completion: There are 24 Avatars and 95 Emotes to unlock, in addition to a handful of Abilities.
- Alien Abduction: They set a trap in the Psychedic Swamp using a single red high-top sneaker as bait. They don't really bother you once you're on the ship, though, and you can leave whenever you want.
- Aliens Among Us: Several NPCs are gray or green aliens just hanging out.
- All Deserts Have Cacti: There are a smattering of small saguaro scattered sparingly in the Lupin Desert. There is also an Egyptian-style pyramid and Old World Middle Eastern town, despite the area otherwise looking more similar to a non-descript area of the American West.
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: More like Amazing Technicolor Landscape, but the Vapor Zone is heavily inspired by the "Vaporwave aesthetic", using 80s/90s style coloring, outdated computers, floating PC windows.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Even the various mushroom characters have a wide variety of skin tones, from realistic shades of beige and brown to grey, purple, orange, and so on.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Many of the animals in-game, including the animal characters, are unrealistic shades. A lime green duck, a dark blue wolf, and more.
- Animalistic Abomination: There's a large, colorful mascot rabbit in the Cave of the Cursed that has a giant centipede crawling into the zipper on its back, referencing the meme of Zipper T. Bunny being an Eldritch Abomination contained within a bunny suit.
- Art Shift: Pastiches of various Animal Crossing characters (i.e., Scoot, Drake, Cherry, Goose, and Raymond) appear in the game, but rather than being drawn to match the art styles of the game's dev team, they're instead made from edited stock images.
- Big Boo's Haunt: There are ghosts and zombies in part of the Forgotten Forest, thanks to a necromancer.
- Bioluminescence Is Cool: The mushrooms in the Psychedelic Swamp and Cave of the Cursed glow. In particular, the Vineshroom and Darkshroom, mascots for the group as a whole, were designed to glow specifically because Vinny thinks it's awesome.
- Black Comedy Burst: The Chill Shroom in the Papa Dook's ball pit says that the "weird smell" is "all part of the essence". It's likely coming from the dead clown that appears to have drowned in the Mountain Doot that was poured into the ball pit. Speaking with the cashier downstairs reveals it's their janitor in a clown costume, because the boss is too cheap to hire real entertainers. Also the Beef Clown Burger on the menu downstairs.
- Bland-Name Product: Bopis, Mountain Doot, Konk, and the video game companies referenced in Papa Dook's arcade.
- Bleak Level: Cave of the Cursed is, on the whole, much darker than the rest of the game, and has both a Smile Ghost that can kidnap you and a wall full of glowing red eyes that, should you touch it, sends you back near the entrance. It also has a pit full of giant, writhing, 3D centipedes. But of course, the bleakness is itself meant to be a joke.
- Blob Monster: The slimes, who can be found almost anywhere but primarily live in the forest.
- Blush Stickers: The Alarmingly Realistic Duck has them. So does Naru-Toad.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The reward for unlocking everything else is... the Doodle Dip avatar, which is distinct from the rest by being 3D and nothing else. It's just there to show everyone else that you unlocked everything. The Meme Master avatar, similarly intended as one of the last collectibles to find, is there to let everyone else know you've found the Developer's Room and that's it.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The flavors of Bopis available include classic, lime, BBQ, Garlic, feet, slime, pizza, Chaos, and Corruption.
- Bubble Gloop Swamp: The Psychedelic Swamp. It's full of multicolored bioluminescent mushrooms and giant eyeballs on stalks that wander through the deeper waters and occasionally stare into the camera, even in third person view.
- Captain Ersatz: The shroom people are Toad in all but name, but with a wider variety of mushroom caps on their head than Nintendo's standard design.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef:
- The pizza rat's reaction to finding out a customer had a cockroach on their pizza is to demand more be added, and to "stop skimping on the toppings."
- One of the drinks available is a Beaver Smoothie.
- Curse Cut Short: The boss rat at Papa Dook's sings the dirty "Pizza, Pasta, Put it in a box" song to the tune of Funiculi, Funicula, ending at "put it on my-".
- Cyberspace: Entering and leaving the Vapor Zone (except through the Cave of the Cursed) has Windows dialog prompts that you pass to get to the entrance and exit, and is a combination of video game, internet, and PC desktop elements.
- Developer's Room: Accessed by getting out-of-bounds, which is most easily done in either the Crossroads, the Cave of the Cursed or the Forgotten Forest after unlocking both Super Speed and Super Jump (the wait time is lowest in the Cave of the Cursed thanks to it being the lowest point on the map). It contains loads of concept art, snapshots of development progress, notes, and an emote. That last one results in the player being required to access the area in order to obtain 100% Completion.
- Dungeon Bypass: The level design was not made to intentionally prevent the player from getting to most areas, except for the high walls on the edge of each realm. Because of this, it's often possible to just repeatedly jump up the level geometry and go off the path to get to areas quickly. The only think keeping the player in is invisible walls which sometimes have intentional gaps.
- Exposed Extraterrestrials: Most of the aliens don't wear clothes, except the one who dresses like a skater.
- Expy: Almost every non-streamer character in the game is this.
- Featureless Protagonist: The player gets called this in a variety of different ways by several NPCs.
- Floating Continent: The Crossroads is made up of several floating islands connected by bridges.
- Fungus Humongous: The swamp is full of gigantic mushrooms. There are also large toadstools in the Vinetoad Kingdom, mainly for platforming.
- The Ghost: The necromancer of the Forgotten Forest is mentioned a few times, but never seen.
- The Grays: One variation of the aliens is based on this, though they tend to be lanky and emaciated-looking.
- Hub World: The Crossroads, where the player starts the game. The six other seven main areas can be accessed from here, though each realm has its own internal areas. Only the Cave of the Cursed isn't connected to the Crossroads, since they're technically located inside the Forgotten Forest. Vapor Zone doesn't appear to be but there's a corrupted arcade cabinet below the floating waterfall island that will take you there.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: All of the characters in the game are obviously based on the Vinesauce team's streamers, the games they've played, and the many, many jokes that have been made over the years, but none of them are straight imports of any of those. To even get all of the jokes, you'd have to watch a tremendous number of archived streams, and for some of the earliest ones, you'd even have to have been there when it happened, since the videos got lost at some point.
- Lighter and Softer: Very much so compared to previous Vinesauce fangames, as it contains no overtly adult material, with the dark and dirty jokes toned down significantly. There is the odd cleaned-up reference and Curse Cut Short, and it's not immune to the occasional Black Comedy Burst, but overall it's far more family-friendly. It being officially sponsored by the Variety is Hope charity organization might be a factor in this.
- Literal Metaphor: The Crossroads Frog has a mushroom as part of its head, taking "Toad" a little too literally.
- Loot Boxes: There's a "Loot Chest" vendor in the town who tries to convince the player to spend a lot of gold on a box of random stuff, which they insist is a "surprise gift" instead of a risky method of acquiring items.
- The Lost Woods: The Forgotten Forest. Besides the name invoking the concept, it also has windy and confusing pathways.
- Loudness War: Pantherk's sole voice clip (consisting simply of him saying his own name) is heavily compressed to the point of audibly clipping, nodding to a moment in one of Joel's streams where he modded the Mortal Kombat fangame the clip was sourced from by boosting it to the highest possible volume. Here, the poor mastering is similarly exploited by having Pantherk's voice be the loudest thing in the entire game, much louder than every other bit of audio present.
- Meme Acknowledgment: Invoked. It was created by the team specifically to collect as many of them in one place as possible. They even acknowledge when a meme that's being referenced has already been beaten to death.
- Metroid Vania: In a sense; the whole world is open from the beginning but there are a lot of collectibles and all areas of the game are interconnected so that they can be explored without returning to the Crossroads.
- Mushroom Man: Most of the NPCs are some variety of shroom person, having mushroom-shaped hats or heads of differing levels of realism, from "just a round bit on top" to "dome shaped with gills underneath."
- Mythology Gag: Many of the references in-game are call-backs to games that the team has streamed, or more specifically the many bungles and reactions that happened during them. It has its own page, since this is arguably the whole point of the game.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Some NPCs are based on actual celebrities, being the source of many Vinesauce Memes. However, none of the characters based on them use their actual name or appearance, instead being redesigned to fit into the game's setting. For example, "Loel" and "Niam" are found circling the Lupin Desert's oasis.
- An in-universe example, the in-game Vinny has a fictional counterpart called "Binny". This is based on a Noodle Incident where he met Tommy Wiseau, who misheard his name.
- Non-Standard Character Design:
- The "Doodle Dip" Avatar is the only one that is a full 3D model and not a cardboard cutout. This is referenced in its info blurb in the game's customization menu, which touts the difference as a reward for achieving 100% Completion.
- Save Pig is an actual, fully modeled pig. He stands out for being this in both his original appearance and his cameo in Vine Realms.
- One-Gender Race: The slimes don't appear to have any kind of visual distinction between male and female, if one even exists. Being amorphous blobs of goo, they likely don't need different genders anyway.
- Overly-Long Gag: Joel's dialogue consists of the actual Joel Johannson reading out one of these on-mic (specifically something he found from googling "best dad jokes"), ultimately apologizing for how bad the punchline is.
- Palette Swap: Many of the NPC designs are simply recolors of each other.
- Palmtree Panic: The O'Sea, a large beach full of palm trees.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Some of the aliens pretend they're not, and one says he very definitely didn't arrive in a ship. When he realizes that you meant an aquatic vessel, he says he did indeed arrive on this world in a ship.
- Playing with Fire: One of the abilities that can be unlocked is Flamethrower, which doesn't actually burn anything.
- Pocket Dimension: The Cave of the Cursed is referred to as this by the Pizza Rat near the entrance to Vapor Zone, which is accessed through a corrupted arcade cabinet in Papa Dook's. However, it's actually the other way around. The Vapor Zone is normally only accessible through a tear in reality in the Psychedic Swamp or a portal in the Cave of the Cursed. There's also a secret way in by jumping off the Crossroads and landing on the floating arcade cabinet.
- Pokémon Speak: Pantherk is only ever capable of saying "Pantherk."
- Punny Name: O'Sea, named after the "OC" abbreviation for "original content."
- Reference Overdosed: It would probably be impossible to actually count all of the references without going over the developers' work logs. 10 years of gaming from a dozen Vinesauce members, as well as associated streamers who are not technically part of the group, makes this inevitable.
- Running Gag: At least one Varg Fren that gives an emote is present in every area of the game, except in the Crossroads, where instead the emote is directly next to him.
- Sensory Abuse: Mildly done with Pantherk, whose sole voice clip (simply a deep, highly compressed male voice shouting "PANTHERK") is mixed noticeably louder than everything else in the game.
- Shifting Sand Land: Lupin Desert. It has cacti and a pyramid.
- Shmuck Bait: The Innocent 'Pede says its hole is way cooler than the "other guy's" pit, but it's actually just full of fully-modeled and animated 3D giant centipedes. The other centipede also says you'd be better off going down the other hole, since his is boring and the other one is more fun. The intended schmuck is Vinny, who hates centipedes after waking up with them on his face numerous times.
- Shout-Out: Requires its own page due to the sheer number of references.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: One alien denies that he arrived on a ship until he realizes you meant a boat, which he then says he definitely arrived on this world in an aquatic ship.
- Unconventional Smoothie: Made from beavers.
- Underground Level: The Cave of the Cursed. It's a massive cave system below the Forgotten Forest.
- Vaporwave: The Vapor Zone is themed after the genre, right down to the name.
- Visual Pun: "Loel" and "Niam" walking around the oasis, since they have first-letter-swapped first names based on the band Oasis.
- Voice Grunting: All of the characters make generic grunting noises a la Banjo-Kazooie when speaking... except for Joel, who has a fully voice acted and improvised Overly-Long Gag before realizing the joke he chose was kind of lame. In the case of the Vinesauce is Hope streamers other than Joel, their voice grunts are out-of-context audio clips from their own streams, ranging from syllabic noises to full phrases, though some streamers recorded a few specific lines so that they would be more clear (like Fast Hedgehog's "FAST!").
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: There is a pit full of centipedes in the Cave of the Cursed, entirely because Vinny hates them and the devs wanted to mess with him.