Long live the great Mothman! Now with his own video game! Developed by LCB Game Studio and published by Chorus Worldwide Games, Mothmen 1966 is the first of a series of visual novels inspired by old pulp stories, with gameplay and style reminiscent of ‘80s home computer graphics.
Strange occurrences are happening around a small American town, maybe one just like the one you live in; men in black suits asking too many questions, red eyes staring endlessly at you in the dark night, people acting like they’re someone else entirely, wild animals being wilder than usual. That’s the setup for Mothmen 1966’s story, in which you take the reigns of three different characters: A gas station clerk with a bed-ridden grandmother to take care of, and a couple of two young college students riddled with complicated emotions, on a trip that will decide the future of their relationship.
If you are a fan of Stephen King books or mystery cult classic shows such as The Twilight Zone and The X-Files, this game is exactly what you need, and you probably know it based on that description. The writing in Mothmen 1966 even feels on par with some of the better stories you can find in the previously mentioned books and shows. Its characters feel complicated, flawed, and real, like their lives were carefully mapped out and every reaction from them exists accordingly to previous formative events in their lives. They are not just a projection of our own reaction to the strangeness portrayed in the game, but fleshed-out, well-defined characters that also serve as a contrast to the shattered world they now find themselves in.
Its atmospheric world, covered in darkness and broken up by invasive, other-worldly green light puts you right into the heart of the matter: Your reality is no longer as simple as it used to be, and the only thing you can do is try to survive it. You are fully immersed in a dangerous world that you don’t even have time to question.
The pixel art of this game might be one of my favorites, maybe ever. It’s an incredible blend of old style with new tech, with precision and detail accompanied by some amazing art direction that brings those old computer games to the year 2022, while never losing their style in its path. The color scheme, which seems will differ in every entry of this series, was appropriately chosen as green, blue, and red. The green colors have a similar feeling to the one produced by the titular characters; the Mothmen. What we know about it is limited, its origins being even vaguer than it usually is with cryptids. Is it a mythological being? An angel? A monster? An alien? What are its intentions if it’s not just a mindless killing machine? The sense of uncertainty and particular weirdness is translated perfectly into the visual language of the game.
The gameplay is what you can expect from a visual novel; choices to decide what you want your character to do, branching paths, and some added mini-games based on puzzles to shake things up. It is an entertaining vehicle to tell the story, and it adds to our own sense of danger and immersion. My complaint in this regard, which is probably my sole complaint for the whole experience, is that despite the branching paths it has, it can feel very linear thanks to the mini-games and less significant actions that end up having the same outcomes regardless of your actions, which wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t happen so often. But ultimately, it’s far away from taking away from the experience.
Mothmen 1966 is exactly what it shows it is and even more. With amazing writing and exceptional style, if you feel captivated by the premise and visuals, I wholeheartedly recommend this game to you. You will be trapped in a threatening, delightfully pulpy world that feels like a never-ending dead end of horror. Any fan of the genre would be remiss to miss out on this.