26th Jun2019

‘Baobabs Mausoleum Ep. 2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive’ Review (Switch)

by Britt Roberts


Claiming to be a mash-up of Monkey island, Zelda, Twin Peaks and Spongebob Squarepants is a heckuva claim to make and yet that is what Celery Emblem have done with this, the 2019 Switch port of their catchily-titled game which was originally released on Steam back in February 2018.

Baobabs Mausoleum Ep. 2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive is an odd game but it doesn’t feel like it is made by someone with a unique vision that they have poured into a game, it feels like someone being wilfully ‘random’. This, combined with other issues unfortunately add up to a game that is hard to recommend.

The main narrative thrust of the game is that you are a private detective / fire-spitting vampire who has been tasked with solving a missing person case.

Although this is clearly a small indie title, unfortunately due to various reasons this is a hard one for me to recommend. The issues become apparent during the first few screens, beyond typos and odd translations from the original Spanish (these run throughout the game) there are bigger issues that have more of a detrimental impact on the game play. Being primarily a top-down adventure with a 16-bit aesthetic, the game is cluttered with non-interactive debris which makes it difficult to see what can and can’t be interacted with. This means that you end up walking into buildings and need to tediously click on every object to see if it’s something you need to pick up or use and they don’t stand out in any way. The game is also quite sprawling on the main map and as assets are re-used, it means it’s hard to keep track of where you are, even though the puzzles are relatively straightforward, if a bit ‘random’.

For example, there was a dog blocking a gate so I headed a screen over and someone said to my character ‘That dog over there loves sardines, I don’t why I told you that’, so I had to find a tranquiliser gun and shoot a monkey on top of a sardine tree in order to grab a sardine and get rid of the dog. It’s all simple stuff but the fact that most screens are full of multiple characters spouting non-sequiturs and referencing their appearance or events in the first episode of the game alienated me as a newcomer. I didn’t find anything humorous, I just found it all irritating as the vast majority of the dialogue in the game feels like filler. There are also mini-games scattered around but these are extremely basic memory tests and the like, feeling more like padding as opposed to variety.


There are other technical issues such as entering and exiting buildings bringing the game to a complete standstill for up to ten seconds and causing the music to cease and glitch (and you have to keep doing this) which gets tiresome quickly, I’m not sure if this happened in the original PC version but the fact that the controls and characters in-game keep referring to a computer and a keyboard layout makes it feel like a somewhat quick port. The music is also grating, with abrasive, short loops being the order of the day, again, it’s a wearying experience.

I feel like I’m beating on Baobabs Mausoleum Ep. 2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive a bit but it really is hard to find positives here. The game feels misguided from the start, the portrait designs of the characters are great and really evoke the 90’s and some ideas such as a constantly bobbing, enormous animal overseeing the world from a distance as well as the sense of energy that the game exudes is laudable but most other things just feel thrown in. with grinding music, overly simplistic gameplay complicated by constant filler dialogue that does no world-building or really serve a purpose combined with the technical issues of freezing / loading times mean this is a pass from me. A harmless and good-hearted pass, but a pass nonetheless.

Baobabs Mausoleum Ep. 2: 1313 Barnabas Dead End Drive is released on the Nintendo Switch tomorrow, June 27th.


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