Review – Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive

I was left feeling cold by the gameplay of Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 1: Ovnifagos Don’t Eat Flamingos, but still came away with nothing but affection for it. It was its aesthetic; a weird mix of creepy and groovy. It was its protagonist who I kept reading in the voice of Jack Nicholson. It was the lighthearted horror that wasn’t so much funny as it was endearing. It left me excited for the inevitable follow-up, even if I didn’t hold out much hope for the gameplay improving.

So, here we are with Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive, the next chapter in what is planned as a trilogy.

It’s back to Flamingo Creek for Walpurgis.

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?

Picking up where the last game ended, FBI Agent Waracio Walpurgis wakes up in a hotel and immediately blackmails the mayor for $50. You know, typically FBI protocol. Finally escaping from his hotel bill, he then winds up investigating a kidnapping for the local police. This leaves you to explore the town, look for things to pick up, and try to find the mysterious 64th inhabitant of the Flamingo Creek (Population: 64).

If you’re unfamiliar with the first episode, our vampire eggplant protagonist is stranded in the town of Flamingo Creek, and all he really wants is a phone that allows him to call for a ride. This proves to be nearly impossible because every inhabitant he meets is aggressively unhelpful. The first episode largely dealt with Watracio simply trying to get into the town, which he succeeds in doing by feeding a trucker gasoline and collecting a spade from the center of a swamp. With that introduction out of the way, Episode 2 has the opportunity to start explaining things.

EXPLAIN YOURSELF

While Episode 1 was mostly a linear affair where you were led from point A to point B, Episode 2 largely opens things up by allowing you to explore the entire town. It’s a welcome change, and one that feels natural for the series. The town of Flamingo Creek is, after all, the real focal point of the series. In a Twilight Zone-esque twist, it only appears once every 25 years and is a residence for nightmares, serial killers, and other weirdities.

The town is packed with creepy weirdos and unsettling scenery. It’s lighthearted horror, like a haunted house built by Bob Ross. It’s funky rather than scary, with lots of interesting colours and enjoyable dialogue.

The downside is that the town isn’t that interesting to explore. It uses the screen-by-screen system of a Zelda game, which is kind of annoying in this day and age. It’s also too big given the amount of content in the game. A lot of the houses look the same, and many of them don’t actually have a function. They may be home to an interesting character who has piece of inconsequential dialogue and nothing else. It would be one thing if eventually these places had some sort of purpose, but unless the town is reused in the next episode, they do not.

Some of the locations are weird and memorable, but otherwise completely useless.

A SPADE A SPADE

Actually, a lack of content in relation to its scale is likely the biggest issue the game has. It seems like there’s a lot of wasted potential in its design. The puzzles aren’t very hard, and there isn’t much to them. Typically, it’s just a matter of talking to the right person and playing one of the game’s woefully uninspired mini-games.

The previous game had this problem as well: small little asides will come up exactly once, and they’re never very good. The first-person sequence form the first game makes a re-appearance, but while it was rudimentary before, here you just hit a few switches and it’s over. Then there’s a guitar showdown and rather than forcing you through a rhythm challenge, it’s a simple memory game that doesn’t go along to the music. As I said: woeful.

There’s also a rather poorly explained day/night cycle. Some characters in town will usually mention that some event only happens during the night or the day, but don’t elaborate beyond that. As it turns out, the night and day cycle is realtime. If you’re playing at night, the game takes place at night, but if you’re playing during the day, it’s daytime.

Keep in mind that this game took me about three hours to complete. I could’ve done this all in an evening, but it wanted me to do it both during the day and at night. Okay. So, I set my system clock 12 hours forward and completed the daytime puzzles and then set it back after I was done to finish the night ones.

It’s bad enough that in a game with frequent shatterings of the fourth wall, no one would tell me that the time of day was based on my time of day, but why force this upon you? It would be neat if the game had a day-night cycle, but not allowing the player to complete the game at the time of day they feel like it is a weird mistake. Sure, I like seeing how the town changes at different times of the day, but I also like completing games in a single sitting. I have a day job, I shouldn’t be forced to either set my system clock or sign in during odd hours.

SHATTERED FOURTH WALL

I probably had more grievances with the second episode than I did with the first, but I still can’t hate it. The same funky horror atmosphere that I loved about the original is here in top form, and the episodic format seems to work well for it. The humour is a bit punchier than the first, making copious reference to the first episode, although some of the characterization is a little off. The music is just as good, though it borrows heavily from the tracks that were already present in the first game.

It ends on a cliffhanger, which means months of waiting for a conclusion. At this point, I’m completely sold on the series, even though I wish the gameplay would catch up to its personality. Maybe the third time’s the charm? I guess I’ll find out in my next visit to Flamingo Creek.

6/10

This review was conducted on a Nintendo Switch using a digital pre-release version of the game. It was provided to the author by an associate.

About Adzuken 160 Articles
Adzuken has been gaming for as far back as they can remember. Their eclectic tastes have led them across a vast assortment of consoles and both the best and worst games they have to offer.

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