Game: “Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition - Country of Woods and Creepy Tales”
Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition – Country of Woods and Creepy Tales, or for this review, Baobabs Mausoleum, is one of the strangest games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. The developers Celery Emblem headed up by Jacob Jazz, and publishers Zerouno Games describe the game as a mix between Twin Peaks and The Legend of Zelda. Through my time with the game, I can see why this comparison was made but there is so much more.
At A Glance
|Visuals||7 / 10|
|Sound||7 / 10|
|Gameplay||7 / 10|
|Overall||7 / 10|
|Positives||+ Engaging and fun
+ Genre bending moments
+ Memorable soundtrack
|Negatives||– Nonsensical at points
– Criminally short
Before we get into that, here’s the overview of Baobabs Mausoleum. Originally released for Steam in 2017 the game has 3 episodes. Each of these is split into roughly 10 acts. Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition combines all 3 episodes into one package. From the start, you can access each episode, but you want to start from the beginning.
You play as an FBI agent, Watracio Walpurgis, a chain-smoking vampiric eggplant. He’s talking on the phone while driving (don’t do it kids) and ends up crashing his car into a tree. The result is that Watracio is stuck in a mysterious village that appears once every 25 years. He must find his way out within a few days, or he will be stuck there. On top of this, the town seems to be obsessed with the identity of a mysterious Resident 64 and rope in our FBI vampire to help deduce who this is.
The bulk of Baobabs Mausoleum is set out as an 8-bit top-down adventure, reminiscent of the NES Legend of Zelda, with a healthy mix of point and click mechanics thrown in for good measure. As you start to explore, the town appears relatively normal. As you’ve probably guessed from playing, “chain-smoking vampiric eggplant”, this normality doesn’t last and quickly things get weird. One of the first tasks you undertake involves disguising petrol as beer, vomiting, and an explosion involving a hilarious amount of 8-bit blood.
This quickly sets the tone for Baobabs Mausoleum. It’s a freaky, horror movie type game that never takes itself seriously. During the game, there are numerous fourth wall breaks and callbacks to previous episodes and moments that make you remember you’re playing a video game that’s a love letter to the 80s and 90s and have to act accordingly. Even the soundtrack feels like an eerie early horror feature with an Organ/Theremin combo leading the way and a backing track of wolf howls and even a blazing argument thrown in for good measure.
If you absorb what is happening rather than trying to derive meaning from what is going on, it is an enjoyable experience. The puzzles are simple and easy to work out for the most part. However, there were times that I found challenging, particularly surrounding episode 2 where you can only move on once you’ve helped every town member.
Throughout Baobabs Mausoleum, Celery Emblem throws curveballs and switches up the genres. In certain acts, the playstyle is completely flipped. The first you encounter puts you in the eyes of Watracio and the game becomes a first-person, Doom Esq dungeon crawler, complete with a cigarette jutting out of your mouth. Other moments have you in a Final Fantasy type battles or in control of a buggy, that for some reason eats sheep.
The issue with surrealist entertainment is that if you stray too far into the strange, the plot can become lost. Baobabs Mausoleum is unfortunately no exception. At times it felt as if the developers were focused on the gameplay rather than the plot. Some characters often make little sense, and it becomes a guessing game of if they want anything at all or are simply there to mess with you. Likewise, the aforementioned buggy stage serves no purpose to the story but was added anyway. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between so don’t spoil the overall enjoyment of the game.
Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition – Country of Woods and Creepy Tales is a game I’m going to remember for a while. It’s violent, disgusting, weird, surreal, and at times nonsensical. There are two drawbacks. Firstly, it is criminally short. A casual playthrough of all three episodes took around 5 hours. There are easter eggs and collectibles to discover which does lengthen the game but only by an hour or so. The other issue is that when the game slips into different genres, the story gets muddled. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great showcase for what Celery Emblem can do as developers, but the story can get lost as a result of it.
Those points aside, Baobabs Mausoleum Grindhouse Edition is also a hell of a lot of fun. It’s how a video game should be. It never too difficult and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The fourth wall breaks and callbacks to other chapters had me laughing out loud. The surreal nature of the plot and presentation won’t appeal to everyone, but for someone who loves the stranger side of life, this will be right up your street. It certainly lives up to the Twin Peaks meets Zelda description and then some.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.