Mothmen 1966 – Review
Follow Genre: Visual novel, puzzle game
Developer: LCB Game Studio
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Mothmen 1966 – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: A well-written mystery story that gets under your skin
Bad: No chapter selection option
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

With a title like Mothmen 1966, we were half-expecting a parody of the old Batman tv show, with an Adam West expy that fought crime not dressed as a bat, but as a moth instead. Of course, one of the caped crusader’s lesser-known adversaries from that era, Killer Moth, follows exactly that template. He even has a Moth-cave and a Moth-signal, so our expectations didn’t seem entirely unreasonable, even if they turned out to be wrong. But we digress: Mothmen 1966 revolves around the Mothman, a cryptid that was first sighted in… 1966. With its ZX-spectrum-inspired look and intriguing premise, Mothmen 1966 certainly seemed different from other visual novels we’ve taken a look at recently, so we were eager to delve into what developer LCB Game Studio had to offer.

Story

Straying away from a traditional narrative structure, Mothmen 1966 follows four characters -three of which are playable- during a fateful night in 1966, when the real-life Leonid meteor shower happened. The opening prologue introduces us to perhaps the best-written character in the game, Holt, a crusty, white-haired gas station attendant, who is approached by mysterious men in black. Before Holt’s story fully kicks off, the prologue ends and we move on to chapter one, where we meet Victoria and Lee, a college-aged couple that happens to visit the woods near Holt’s gas station. Lee has set up a late-night picnic date for Victoria to watch the meteor shower, but things are about to take a turn for the weird. Finally, our third protagonist, next to Holt and Victoria, is Lou, a writer of occult novels, who has heard rumors of winged creatures that have been sighted in the area. The game alternates between Victoria, Holt, and Lou with each chapter. Not every character is equally strong in terms of characterization, and the pacing of the chapters can feel somewhat off, but when looking at Mothmen 1966’s narrative as a whole, it’s a tremendously effective affair.

We won’t delve too much into how the story unfolds and how the paths of our protagonists intersect, as the writing is perhaps the main reason why you should give Mothmen 1966 a shot. It’s not the easiest story to get into because of the way it is structured and it requires a certain mindset to really get into, but under the right circumstances, the game really can get under your skin and once you reach the end credits, you might feel uneasy -a testament of Mothmen 1966’s effectiveness. It’s not a very long game, but the branching storylines and the plethora of unexpected death scenes are enough to ensure that you’ll return to the game over and over to find out everything you can about the titular Mothmen and the mysteries that surround them. That said, the game leaves plenty open for interpretation, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing. The story doesn’t follow a traditional arc either, and feels like it’s simply documenting a series of strange events in the woods, relying on the player to think for themselves and connect the dots.

Graphics

While we understand what Mothmen 1966 is trying to do with its chosen aesthetic, the game didn’t appeal to us with its ZX Spectrum-inspired visuals. Admittedly, emulating the video game visuals of this area is something that is always going to be divisive, and a lot of the appeal of the limited color palette on a black background is driven by nostalgia. The rough pixel art can make it difficult to make out exactly what is going on at times -although this does tie into the mysterious nature of the game’s events. Because we can’t look at Mothmen 1966 through nostalgia goggles, we don’t feel like we can really judge the game’s visuals -it knows what it wants to look like, and it succeeds in doing so, and that should be enough, regardless of our personal taste.

Sound

There simply isn’t a whole lot that we can say about Mothmen 1966’s audio simply because it’s very limited. This is a restriction of the hardware that the game is attempting to emulate so we didn’t mind this all that much, although one thing that did irk us was that even with a headset on at maximum volume, the game’s audio was very, very quiet -a bit too much in fact.

Gameplay

For the most part, Mothmen 1966 is a very straightforward title in terms of “gameplay”: you’re simply reading a visual novel and occasionally have to make a choice that influences the story. The game does exactly what you’d expect it to do during these parts -although if you’ve been paying attention, you noticed that we use the term ‘game’ when describing Mothmen 1966, something we tend to avoid when talking about a pure visual novel. Yes, Mothmen 1966 deviates from the norm, by implementing puzzles and other gameplay elements. These are often quite simple: a very early example expects you to arrange items on a store shelf in such a way that they are sorted by type, but some are more intricate, such as a Solitaire variant where you play by choosing the correct sentences.

We welcomed these as a change of pace, as they broke up the tedium of Mothmen 1966. The game is a very slow burn, that relies on building up tension and although the payoff is satisfying, it takes some time before the story gets where you want it to. We can forgive the awkwardness of the gameplay mechanics. They feel very clumsy but this is likely accurate to the style of gameplay that Mothmen 1966 is attempting to recreate. We weren’t around when the ZX Spectrum was the norm, and although we do enjoy the occasional retro title, this style of game felt alienating and took some effort from our side to really get into. Your mileage may vary on this of course, and we can understand it if Mothmen 1966 is a joy to play for those nostalgic for this era. It’s an effective glimpse into an era of video games that is largely forgotten these days, backed by a well-written story, so if you’re curious to experience this kind of gameplay for yourself, this is an excellent starting point. We would’ve liked it had there been an option to select a chapter once you’ve cleared it once, as there is no option to skip text, but instead, you’ll have to either start again from the beginning or revert to a previous save file, but that’s pretty much the only gripe we had with Mothmen 1966’s gameplay.

Conclusion

Those that look back fondly on the video game era that Mothman 1966 recreates will absolutely adore what’s on offer here, as will anyone that enjoys stories about cryptids or mystery novels. Make no mistake: this is a niche title for niche audiences, but if you happen to fall into one of the overlapping circles that Mothmen 1966 is aimed at, you will absolutely love what’s on offer here.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Mothmen 1966 - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
SebastiaanRaats


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