Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition – NS REVIEW

Sometimes game genres can get a bit stale: repetitive gameplays, reused ideas, etc. We have our adventure games, our stealth games, our platformers, our horror games… And then we have Baobabs Mausoleum. If I had to describe the game to someone in very little words I’d probably say: “Imagine a crossover between Wario Ware and Zelda, but Horror and on acid. I am not being dramatic: Baobabs Mausoleum is the most ridiculous, surreal, discombobulated mix of game styles I’ve ever seen. Period. But guess what? For the most, it pays off. 

Yep, This is Watracio Walpurgis. Why, what did you expect?

Our hero is Watracio Walpurgis, a detective with the body of an eggplant and beautiful, spiky green hair. Yes, I know. Watracio is driving his car, when he nearly dies by crashing, trying to dodge an un identified creature. That’s how we arrive in the town of Flamingo’s Creek. This place appears every 25 years on Albatross Road and it’s inhabited only by serial killers, ghosts and monsters, all willing to give our hero a hand. Around the neck. That’s how Watracio’s adventure starts: will he ever be able to escape the city in one piece?

Beer. Petrol. Oh well, close enough.

Immediately we are welcomed with a delightful pixel art presentation. Each asset is animated with love and personality, showcasing how a few pixels can give life to a fully fledged scene. A few surprises wait for us the more we progress, but more on that later.
Flamingo’s Creek is soaked in atmosphere and mystery: it feels dirty, yet whimsical. Dangerous yet charming. It brings back memories of how lived and alive the rusty stations of Metro: Last Light feel, memories of how corrupted Beyond Good and Evil’s city truly is. It is truly a pleasure to just walk around and soak in all the craziness creator Jacob Jazz managed to fit into one small town.

All this wouldn’t have half the impact if it wasn’t coupled with a stellar soundtrack. Catchy tunes alternate to more dramatic melodies, horror tracks that wouldn’t pale if placed in any Silent Hill chapter, crazy jingles, riffs and every sort of weird videogame chimes you can think of. It’s insane, it’s beautiful and it just works. 

This Doom-like level is another example of a great gameplay variety.

The game is a collection of the three episodes released previously on Steam for PC, each with his own gameplay quirks and mechanics.
Episode one is played like a combination of mini games and exploration: it’s sort of a long item fetch quest, a fruit salad of gameplay styles borrowed from many other game genres. We could be filling a bottle of beer with petrol at one moment, point and click adventure style, hop on a raft and be presented with a little rhythm game to move the paddles. Enter a restaurant and explore the environment to find change, so we can buy chips for a crazy surfer. Enter the kitchen and end up in a Final Fantasy style fight against a chef, items and run command included. We could go from a section a la Doom, to a Dungeon from Zelda. I could go on and on. Each “level” never overstays it’s welcome, keeping the experience fresh and varied. 

The solution to this puzzle will have you think… outside of your Switch.

Episode two has a very distinct RPG vibe. We are given a 16 slots inventory, suddenly talking to NPC characters and solving puzzles has a whole new level of importance. It’s probably the longest episode, giving us a good and intimate view of what really goes on in the heart of Flamingo’s creek. 

Episode 3 can be described as a combination of the previous episodes. Areas are broken in different zones to explore, each with its own gameplay mechanic. Particular mention to the opening scene, shockingly presenting a fully fledged 3d section, a buggy mess probably left in such state on purpose as it perfectly fits the random, corrupted atmosphere of the game to a T.  

The game is packed with references: here’s Koholint Island from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

I personally got to the end of episode 3 in a complete state: the game just keeps throwing new stuff at you over and over and over. The story moves at a very fast pace, there’s so many characters to talk to and each absolutely disturbed and deviated. We have Donut Lady, who’s able to make people’s hands disappear and who’s head is just a… donut.
RiptoChef, who just wants to be left alone making burgers filled with corpses’ meat.
Lester Pester, an exhibitionist hiding something under his coat.
Rosalinda, a possessed child who’s neck snaps and twists. I could genuinely go on for hours about the inhabitants of Flamingo’s Creek: you will end up with your favourites and possibly even grow attachment to some of them. 

Just like that: Polygonal Driving Buggy Level!

But with extreme variety comes a few problems too. Each gameplay style stays for such a short time, it is very very difficult to grow fond to any of them. It almost feels like the developers tested the grounds with episode 1 and 2, to finally refine it all with episode 3, where we have a more cohesive experience, more keen to what we could consider a “traditional videogame”. I personally found it a bit difficult to follow the plot. One moment we are in Flamingo’s Creek, another we are in a sort of nightmare limbo, another we find ourselves on a spaceship (!?), controlling an alien shaped like the moon. 
It can all get a bit too much and by the end of it all, I was left dizzy and confused trying to connect all the dots. The game is also afflicted by a few bugs and glitches. We reached out to ZeroUno Games and they confirmed a patch is being developed to squish and remove all these issues. All three episodes are on the short side, leaving little space for replay-ability if we exclude the handful of achievements the games offers to unlock: It all can be completed in 3-4 sittings. 

So would I recommend Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition? It all depends on the kind of player you are: approach this game as a traditional videogame and you won’t understand where it begins and where it ends. Try to have an open mind and you will discover a beautiful, crazy adventure drenched in atmosphere and ready to put a smile on your face.
And who knows, maybe you will finally find the answer to the biggest mystery in Flamingo’s Creek:

“Who is inhabitant number 64?”

Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition review code was kindly given to us by ZeroUno Games. 

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