Although I can’t claim that Baobabs Mausoleum has truly clicked with me, I do have a certain amount of goodwill towards the series. Although the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired, the atmosphere and aesthetic are consistently great and, admittedly, I do find myself invested in the trials of vampire eggplant protagonist, Watracio Walpurgus.
However, I’m not entirely sold on the whole experience, so I was excited to find out whether or not everything comes together in the final episode. I then shelved it for months for reasons I didn’t recall at the time. I remember now.
BREAK A FEW EGGPLANTS
This may be laying my cards down a little early, but I took a nap while trying to figure out one of the game’s first puzzles. I saw the hint, talked to all the characters, but couldn’t work out what the Baobabs Mausoleum wanted me to do. Eventually I was able to overcome it, but I have no idea what I did differently that worked. This wouldn’t be the only time I was unclear on the solution to one of the game’s puzzles.
Backing up, Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 3: Un Pato en Muertoburgo is the concluding chapter of the rather bizarre genre-defying series. When we last left our hero, Watracio, he had just been blasted in the back of the head during a card game. He ascends to heaven but after the above-mentioned obtuse puzzle, he’s sent back down to Flamingo Creek (population 64), to once again try to find a means of escape. Or, maybe it’s to save a girl he briefly met named Daphne. I guess it’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re stranded.
I’m having difficulty deciding where I want to drill into Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 3 because, moreso than the previous games, it’s a stapled together mess. Each game has fused a number of different playstyles into a single cohesive unit, and this one follows suit.
It starts off by putting you through a bizarre FMV-style segment where you choose directions and solve simple puzzles. It can largely be completed through trial and error, but it’s an interesting and stylish way to start things off. You’re then plopped into the game’s more standard top-down adventure game style of play for a short time before getting dropped into a golf cart for a full 3D driving section with slippery controls that harken back to the early 3D era of gaming.
Like the previous episodes, no individual segment is particularly good with the game leaning more heavily on its stylish horror atmosphere and weirdness, but unlike the previous episodes, it doesn’t quite stick the landing.
THE BAOBAB TREE
Despite the fact that I fancy myself as a writer, I don’t consider myself necessarily a stickler for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Mistakes are made, overlooked, and make it into the final product. It happens. However, the translation for Baobabs Mausoleum Episode 3 is so poorly done, that there are probably more lines of dialogue that contain errors in them than there are without.
Again, normally I could overlook the problem, however, I found it to be constantly intrusive. I’d have to go over sentences multiple times to figure out what they were trying to say, and sometimes I couldn’t decode them at all. These aren’t simple errors with flow or grammar either. There are major spelling errors that should have been picked up by a common spellchecker. There are instances where the wrong word has been substituted entirely. Then there are places where I don’t even know what the character is trying to convey.
A VEGETATIVE MONSTER
Even if the characters all spoke with perfect syntax, it pains me to say that the series doesn’t really get the payoff it deserves. The pervasive feeling I got was that this episode is simply stitched together from leftover ideas and shoved out the door to bring closure to the narrative. It fulfills its duty, but the sense of adventurousness is nowhere to be found.
That’s not to say that the same level of variety can’t be found here, but a lot of the puzzles seemed insubstantial, or I simply didn’t understand their impact. The last gauntlet of the game involves a series of floors where you accomplish a particular task, and it’s a fine example of where things go wrong.
The first floor has you chase around a bottle of alcohol, only for it to inexplicably create a bridge. The second floor has you avoiding motionless monsters with nothing but a dim light illuminating your way. The last floor has you finding slot machines that are on the verge of a jackpot to collect an unspecified amount of money. These aren’t necessarily fun or challenging situations, rather they feel like they were just put together from assets that were left over.
POLISHING AN EGGPLANT
That’s to say nothing about the lack of polish that has been applied to the final product. While I never ran into a glitch that was particularly damning, I largely never tried to break the game. Even still, it’s difficult to not run into issues with strange layering choices and collision problems. It leads again to the feeling that the game was largely slapped together.
One particular puzzle involves going into the internet depicted by a weird lo-fi monochrome city. You can enter into any of the buildings, but the view never changes to show where you are walking, so it’s easy to lose track of your character and have difficulty navigating your way out. In the end, I’m not exactly sure how I solved the puzzle involving a floating key. The whole situation is confusing and unclear.
AN UNFITTING END
If there’s one thing I can say about the last episode of Baobabs Mausoleum, it’s that I at least dug the ending. It’s maybe not what I envisioned, but it’s creepy and unsettling in a way that fits the theme.
What doesn’t fit the theme, however, is the lack of love that has been put into the final episode. As troubled as the previous two titles were, I had a great deal of affection for their direction and personality. I’m just not feeling it here. I can present theories. Maybe the developers were disappointed by how the first two episodes were received and their hearts weren’t in it for the finale. Maybe they just wanted to move onto something new. Or perhaps they did try their best and things just fell short.
Whatever the case, it’s a disappointing wrap-up for the series. I was really rooting for it. I felt like the potential was there, the execution just needed to be tweaked into a more enjoyable experience. Now I’m having difficulty deciding whether or not I can recommend the series as a whole. I’d like to, but seeing how things turned out, I don’t think I can. That’s its own kind of tragic ending.
This review was conducted on a Nintendo Switch using a digital copy of the game. It was paid for by the author.
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