Review: Baobabs Mausoleum Volume 1: Ovnifagos Don't Eat Flamingos


Your guess is as good as mine

If you couldn't tell by now, I'm far more interested in wacky, goofy, and flat-out weird games than I am your typical AAA release. It's just more fun to see the strange afterbirth of a good old-fashioned mindfuck than it is to climb radio towers or open lootboxes or do any of the other stuff that modern gaming has embraced as of late.

Sometimes, that gamble pays off and I get rewarded with a unique and wonderful experience that could only be created by a small team unfettered by corporate pressure. Sometimes that gamble doesn't pay off and I waste hours of my life on a game that just couldn't put into motion the ambition of its creator.

Baobabs Mausoleum Volume 1: Ovnifagos Don't Eat Flamingos is the former, but only barely.

Baobabs Mausoleum review

Baobabs Mausoleum Volume 1: Ovnifagos Don't Eat Flamingos (PC, Switch [reviewed])
Developer: Celery Emblem
Publisher: Zerouno Games
Released: July 6, 2017 (PC), May 24, 2018 (Switch)
MSRP: $2.99 (PC), $5.99 (Switch)

BMv1 tells the tale of sentient eggplant/FBI agent/vampire Watracio Walpurgis who gets trapped in Flamingo's Creek, an LSD trip of a town one can only access every 25 years on the 11th of March. Why an eggplant who works for the FBI gets trapped in a town that can only be accessed on a specific day once every 25 years is never explained. In fact, almost nothing is explicitly explained in the game.

...and that is actually one of the brightest spots about this fever dream of a game. When we first popped in Super Mario Bros., we didn't ask why an Italian man was jumping on muffins and chasing dragons. It was a video game -- we just accepted it and had fun. BMv1 is very similar in that while nothing makes sense from a practical standpoint, it starts you off with such an out-there premise that you just kind of accept that you're playing a video game.

As the first chapter of a planned trilogy, the game does a decent job of introducing players to the crazy world of Flamingo's Creek. Within minutes of starting up the game you'll get a trucker drunk off gasoline to get him to barf so you can move his rig, get threatened by a giant crab that's already killed three of the local townsfolk, and catapult Mr. Nuts (an acorn with eyes and a mouth and a soul) at a rat, which causes said rodent to explode in a red cloud of viscera. It's all part of Watracio's quest to escape the town and get back to his normal eggplant/FBI agent duties.

A whole lot less appealing than the strange world and its inhabitants is the actual gameplay. It starts out with a Legend of Zelda-style top-down adventure feel, but quickly bounces around between different genres with pretty wonky results. One boss battle sees the player engage in a quick and limited turn-based RPG encounter with four command options, but only one that can result in you winning. Note the keyword in that last sentence, "one" -- as in, it happens exactly once. Another segment sees the player crossing a lake on a boat with an odd timing-based minigame. It's less Guitar Hero and more a slowed-down stick waggling experience. It's out of place and serves no gameplay purpose as again, it happens exactly once.

Baobabs Mausoleum review

The worst offender is an extremely irritating first-person sequence. Moving around is rudimentary at best, but there's a platforming section that requires a tiny amount of grace that took me about ten tries to nail. All you have to do is jump up some platforms to get a key -- it should be simple enough. But when you jump in this first-person mode, you're propelled forward with very little control of your velocity. The platforms are surrounded by water, and you die if you fall in, necessitating about twenty seconds of seeing a game over screen, reloading, and reattempting. Imagine if you were on a wacky Japanese game show and you had to play Hexen on Nintendo 64 using only your buttcheeks, but they replaced the joystick with an undercooked elbow of macaroni and made you take three muscle relaxers before going on stage -- that's how this section controls. It's rough.

Act 8 is the worst part of this frustrating hodgepodge of gameplay styles. You're given an actual attack and hit points for the first time, but are expected to maneuver through an extremely long maze section without losing your health. There are parts where it'll take nearly a minute for a platform to make its way back across the screen to you, and it's all too easy to fall off if you get overly excited or the timing of the connecting segments doesn't exactly line up. If you lose your five hearts to either falling off the un-railed sections or getting hit by the pattern-based enemies, you'll have to start the whole thing over. It's not a hard section, but it is a poorly-designed one where the difficulty is artificially spiked for no reason at all.

Baobabs Mausoleum review

The visuals keep in line with the theme of the game, in that they bounce around a lot between crisp and appealing to low-effort. One scene will have nice detail to the mostly-pixelated world showing lots of care for the scene and environment. The next will look like it was drawn freehand in MS Paint a couple of hours before the game went live on the eShop. It's rarely a total eyesore, but at times really drops to levels you would expect from an amateur's weekend side project as opposed to a retail release on Nintendo's storefront. There is a neat '90s VHS visual filter to put over the game, which adds tape lines and distortion across the screen like an old worn-out porno tape you stole from your uncle's garage. It fits with the tone well, even if it does kind of muddy the visuals a bit at times.

On the bright side, the music is largely snappy, oscillating between moody horror and spacey sci-fi tones. The intro song is an upbeat acid jazz fusion with a theremin wailing at the forefront, which is a really nice combination that does wonders to help set the tone for the weirdness the game throws at you. The sound effects are a bit jarring, as the game throws random frog croaks and bird caws at you when using menus or interacting with the environment, but by the end I had grown to love the almost-barrage of strange animals noises the game throws at you. It felt like part of the package, which I think is a compliment.

Baobabs Mausoleum review

Depending on your tolerance for randomness and unsolicited oddity, the roughly two-hour playtime of the first volume will either be a good thing or a bad thing. The game sets up an overarching story, but it'll need to improve upon its gameplay and presentation if it wants to make any sort of lasting appeal -- its odd humor and dreamlike world can only carry the load for the gameplay for so long.

Baobabs Mausoleum Volume 1: Ovnifagos Don't Eat Flamingos is a very strange game, both boosted and busted by its own quirkiness. It's got some definite faults in its grab-bag of gameplay styles and settings, but there's still a macabre charm hiding underneath all of the jank that goes along with so seemingly-unclear of a vision.

I just really hope the next volume explains what the hell an ovnifago is.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Baobabs Mausoleum Volume 1: Ovnifagos Don't Eat Flamingos reviewed by Wes Tacos



Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide


Wes Tacos
Wes TacosCommunity Manager   gamer profile

Destructoid's resident LVL 70 Tacomancer, and Community Manager. I've personally backed exactly one KickStarter/crowdfunding project: Sony's PlayStation, by Dtoid community member darrenhupke. more + disclosures



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