Experimental games are always welcome in a pretty repetitive panorama. With its first episode released back in 2017, the Baobabs Mausoleum series brought some really weird ideas to the table. While the first episode is arguably the best, all three of them have a charm, thanks to their shared aesthetic and story. Thanks to the upcoming release of the new Baobabs Mausoleum Trilogy Grindhouse Edition, all three episodes have been compiled into a single game. To sweeten the deal even more, this edition includes some nifty physical items for collectors.
As one may guess, the story for all three episodes is interconnected, thus the decision of compiling them for the Grindhouse Edition. Said story revolves around Watracio Walpurgis, a vampire eggplant working as an FBI agent who, after crashing his car into a tree, finds himself stranded near the town of Flamingo’s Creek.
During Baobabs Mausoleum Ep.1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos, the story focuses on Watracio trying to get into the town, its main road currently blocked by giant crabs. As the game progresses, he keeps running into more and more shenanigans stalling him. Such a quartet of hide-and-seek playing beavers or a murderous lady.
At the end of the episode Daphne Trujillo, a local waitress for which Watracio has developed a crush, is kidnapped. This event leads the plot for the remaining two episodes, as Watracio attempts to track her down in a search that will take him as far as heaven.
The game is filled with quirky and unique characters, both in their dialogues and appearance. There are not two of them that feel the same; each one has a clearly distinct personality. Because of how few characters are introduced in the third episode, the second is probably the one with the largest amount of unique characters, though it’s a close race with the first.
Despite how fun the characters and story may result, the writing is not without flaw. The English translation is more than lacking, riddled with mistakes and nonsensical sentences. In the second and third episodes, there also are a lot of poorly written fourth wall breaks, which mostly squander immersion for cheap jokes.
As previously mentioned, the aesthetic of the game plays a big part in its charm. With its 90s looks combined with creepy designs for the characters and environments, it clearly stands out. At times the illustrations can appear simple and there is a lot of assets reused, but somehow this doesn’t impoverish the experience. All three episodes also feature some really particular 3D sections, though the one in the third game looks somewhat rougher.
Sound design is another very important part of the game; it features an incredible soundtrack with a lot of overall variation. There are also some quite quirky SFX which range from burps to quacks and everything in between; the uncanniness of these sounds only playing into the already bizarre experience.
All three episodes (Ep.1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos, Ep.2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive and Ep.3: Un Pato en Muertoburgo) of the game are puzzle based, though they still feature some RPG mechanics. The usual loop involves Watracio looking around an area for an item to progress, be it a key, a sardine or a shotgun. These puzzles are quite easy and linear, mostly, though a few can be slightly harder because of the area’s size and/or mechanics involved.
The previously mentioned RPG mechanics, particularly come into play in one of the later chapters of the first episode. In said chapter Watracio gains a projectile attack that allows him to defeat enemies and light up torches. At the end of that chapter there even is a boss with pretty simple mechanics, but which still is some welcome variation.
Surprisingly enough, Baobabs Mausoleum Ep.2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive alters the formula by featuring an open world where the player can go to any area of the town at any time. Sadly, this episode also includes some of the worst mechanics out of all three and where the quality dips.
These mechanics are mainly a day/night cycle based on the computer’s or console’s clock, locking progression behind real-time. This is never explained, which leaves players to figure it out by themselves. To add insult to injury, this cycle is basically irrelevant, all but one progression items appearing at night.
There are some other new mechanics as well, such as the ability to sprint or a new type of projectile which gets almost no use. A multi-slot inventory is also added, though it is basically required for the open exploration to work.
Besides this, a lot of collisions are broken, with some collectibles straight up inaccessible and dialogues prompting out of nowhere. The final boss, pretty similar to one of the first episode, also features some awful mechanics and hitbox, making it a complete slog to beat.
Luckily enough, Baobabs Mausoleum Ep.3: Un Pato en Muertoburgo is a return to shape, going back to linear puzzles instead of an open world. While it is possibly the shortest of the three episodes, it still learns from the previous two, retaining some mechanics introduced in the second. Sadly, it also still includes the collision issue and adds a few of its own such as projectile controls changing without explanation. The puzzles in the third game are also simpler or rather more straightforward, with no lateral thinking involved, something that, depending on the player, might be good or bad.
The game’s length is also worth mentioning, tallying to a total of around 6 hours or 2 hours per episode. Achievement hunting or some of the more obscure puzzles may delay players, but this is generally the completion time, with the second episode being the longest. Because of the nature of puzzle games, there is not much replayability, though it’s short length and how bizarre the game is compensated a bit for this.
I can say I had fun with both Baobabs Mausoleum Ep.1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos and Baobabs Mausoleum Ep.3: Un Pato en Muertoburgo; but Baobabs Mausoleum Ep.2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive was a broken mess through and through and its final boss an annoyance. The story is no miracle of writing, but still pretty fun, and the soundtrack is definitely a highlight. I also enjoyed the visual style of the game, though after a while the novelty kind of runs out. The puzzles were mostly fun and didn’t break my head, though a pair was pretty poorly explained and one is straight-up broken, requiring a code from the dev site, which is down (luckily it was uploaded to Steam forums).
Since the physical trinkets in the Grindhouse Edition don’t factor into the game itself, I left them for the end. They are all really well made and more than welcome additions, though the increase in price is somewhat excessive at €50 in contrast with the barely €12 of the three episodes digitally. Despite this, those that enjoyed the game may consider it a worthy purchase thanks to how much material it features, with even a custom card game included.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Baobabs Mausoleum Trilogy Grindhouse Edition
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
Those that enjoyed the game may consider it a worthy purchase thanks to how much material it features, with even a custom card game included.