Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos is an adventure game in which eggplant FBI agent Watracio Walpurgis stumbles across a mysterious town.
Developer: Celery Emblem
Publisher: Zerouno Games
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: July 6th, 2017
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos is an adventure game in which eggplant FBI agent Watracio Walpurgis crashes outside of a mysterious town after swerving to avoid a deer. In his efforts to find help, he is dragged into a number of insane situations. Meanwhile, a more sinister plot begins to unfold. Most of the game plays similarly to a point and click adventure game, but parts of the game also play like a first-person 3D platformer and an early The Legend of Zelda game.
- A bizarre world – explore a bizarre world with a cast of unique characters.
- Find your way to town – make your way to town, where Watracio will hopefully be able to find help.
- Several different types of gameplay – different parts of the game play like a point and click adventure, a first-person 3D platformer, and an early The Legend of Zelda game.
By Matt Chelen
Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos, heretofore referred to as simply “Baobabs Mausoleum,” initially caught my attention due to its strange premise. After all, it’s not every day that you come across a self-proclaimed mix of Monkey Island, The Legend of Zelda, Twin Peaks, and Spongebob Squarepants with an eggplant FBI agent protagonist. It’s a combination of franchises that you wouldn’t ever expect to see referenced in such a manner and I was very curious to see how it worked out.
The description above may be a bit confusing, so let me explain the game’s core gameplay. The majority of the game plays like a point and click adventure game, complete with all of the bizarre logical leaps and one major difference: it is top-down rather than side-view. It is separated into eight Acts, one of which brings the game into the third dimension and another of which plays more like an early game in The Legend of Zelda series than a point and click adventure. For whatever reason, there’s even a single jRPG boss fight thrown in. While these styles of gameplay don’t all mesh together well, they do ensure that the game never feels stale.
Unfortunately, in trying to incorporate as many different styles of play as it does, Baobabs Mausoleum doesn’t do any of them particularly well. Each of the game’s Acts, other than the final one, are fairly short, often consisting of only three or four screens at most, and everything that you can interact with displays a large icon that is accompanied by the sound of a crow cawing. Because of these small zones in which it is fairly obvious what you can interact with, the solution to each puzzle is fairly easy to figure out despite the fact that the logic behind most of them is extremely bizarre. If that alone didn’t make the puzzles simple enough, the game only gives you one item to hold at a time, so there is little complexity involved in each of the puzzles. The only puzzle that I felt was even the slightest bit challenging was one in which you have to enter a code that must be found outside of the game. I found the solution fairly quickly, but it did require a bit more thought than the rest of the game’s puzzles. I do, however, feel that this particular puzzle will end up deterring some users due to its inherent nature.
The Act that change the style of gameplay don’t fare much better. The Act that is played in 3D is ridiculously small and, for some reason, lets you aim freely with the mouse or right joystick, despite the fact that such aiming has no practical use. What’s more, it requires players to overcome a platforming challenge, but also gives the player character some of the slipperiest physics that I have experienced in a platformer of any kind in quite some time. An extremely simple challenge was made downright infuriating due to the fact that it was as if the platforms were made of ice. To make matters worse, there is just enough room between the platforms that you can get stuck, leaving you able to move but unable to jump. Ultimately, your only option is to walk off of the platforms that you’re stuck on, die, and start over.
The final act, which turns the game into a Zelda-like dungeon crawler, suffers a different set of issues. At the beginning of the act, you are given five hearts, meaning that you can be hit by anything in the zone that deals damage or fall off of platforms a total of five times. If you lose all of your hearts, you have to start the entire Act over again, as there are no checkpoints, other than one set right before the final boss. In the Zelda games of old, and many that emulate them, when you move from screen to screen, you can’t move during the screen transition. This is a feature that you generally want to have because it keeps the player from doing anything such as running into enemies or falling off of platforms during a brief moment where they can barely see what’s going on. Baobabs Mausoleum’s final Act does not have that feature, which led to me falling off of various platforms quite often as I entered new rooms for the first time. I also found that, when playing with a controller, the controls were too touchy for even the imprecise movement across platforms that was required of me.
The final boss fight has its own problems. Beyond being uncharacteristic of a game that featured only a single Act that had a significant amount of combat, it was simply uninteresting. The boss simply moves back and forth across the screen and throws a sparse amount of fireballs at you as it goes. Every so often, it stops on one side of the screen and swings its antlers at you, requiring you to be on the other side of the screen to avoid taking damage. This is the extent of the boss fight. It never gets any more complex, let alone any more difficult than it is at the start. The already simple boss fight is then made even simpler by the fact that you can deal damage to it by hitting its antlers, which take up most of the width of the screen, meaning that you don’t even have to be in a place where it can hit you to deal damage.
As a game that is primarily referred to as a point and click adventure, however, you might expect a large part of the game’s value to be dependent upon its story. I’d love to be able to tell you that the story makes up for the gameplay issues mentioned above, but, at this point in time, I don’t feel that it does. Later episodes may start bringing the story together in ways that make the journey feel worth it, but the first episode alone simply left me feeling confused.
Baobabs Mausoleum starts out with eggplant FBI agent Watracio Walpurgis cruising down a road while talking on the phone when he sees what he describes as a “mutant deer” in the middle of the road and swerves to avoid it, crashing in the process. Due to where he is at the time, he ends up about 19 kilometers outside of a town called Flamingo’s Creek, which can only be entered once every so often. His car and phone destroyed, he seeks only help in leaving the town, but the road is blocked by the town’s sheriff, who is trying to rid the town of killer crabs that have already killed several people. Instead of waiting for the sheriff to complete this task, he opts to literally leave through a hole in the wall of the women’s restroom in a bar and enter the woods. In the woods, he finds a cabin where he is offered shelter for the night in exchange for hunting the legendary golden flamingo for the wife of the cabin’s owner. The story from there then devolves into pure madness.
Now, it would be one thing if the story were simply pure madness, but it is not. There are two brief moments in the game in which hints of a more mundane overarching story are made clear and neither of these moments have anything to do with the increasingly insane set of trials that Watracio is put through, much less Watracio himself. This has left me wondering why much of this game is told as it is, as, despite its oddity, very little of it seems to bear any significance beyond providing gameplay between the game’s sparse story segments.
It should also be noted that the English version of the story is riddled with grammatical errors and awkwardly written phrases. The meaning of most of it is fairly clear, but it can put a damper on the experience nonetheless.
Despite the criticisms mentioned above, one thing that the game does exceptionally well is its atmosphere. Barring the final Act, which seems to have made certain concessions for the sake of gameplay, the game’s atmosphere and level design are fairly good, if limited. Many parts of the game feature aptly placed special effects that really bring the bizarre feel of the game together. There are a few unfortunate graphical glitches, primarily in the 3D Act, but the game is largely rather polished overall.
In all, Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos lasts about two hours. That’s two hours that could have been used to hook players with an intriguing story, but, instead, we get only two vague moments that really begin to hint at what the series is about. The rest of the game is filled to the brim with what I can only describe as madness for the sake of madness, throwing multiple underdeveloped styles of gameplay at the player over the course of entire Acts that ultimately don’t contribute to the story in any significant way. I can only hope that Episode 2 takes a more balanced approach to storytelling than Episode 1 does.
Release Date: July 6th, 2017
Game Engine: Unknown
Length of playthrough: 2 hours