After being impressed with the demo of Mothmen 1966 last year, the full game is finally out now. If the playable snippet we tried out in late 2021 showed off the retro aesthetics and Goosebumps-style horror inflections, then the finished product takes it even further. LCB Game Studio has struck gold here, with a visual novel brimming with charm and character, and the makings of a great anthology series in the works.
The full game picks up where the demo left off, following a young couple called Lee and Victoria as they share a date on the fateful night of a mystical meteor shower. Mothmen 1966 expands its roster of characters though, adding the grizzled cynic Holt and even a conniving journalist hunting for a story. It all boils down to the ritualistic arrival of the eponymous mothmen, virile creatures who wouldn’t feel out of place in the Evil Dead franchise.
In terms of gameplay, it’s a dialogue-focused visual novel where you pick each character’s reactions from a series of possible lines. It’s bound to be familiar to anyone who’s played a Bethesda game, but one nuance behind Mothmen 1966‘s characterisation is how we still hear each character’s inner monologue, despite being able to select their speech. Victoria, secretly harbouring a pregnancy and wondering whether she actually loves Lee or not, benefits most from that as it allows her to escape the ‘defenceless maiden’ trope she slotted into during the demo.
It’s a horror game through-and-through, with a suitably gothic and ethereal atmosphere that often proves very spooky. The excellent soundtrack complements this, with eerie synths and moments of sheer silence all contributing to the feeling that this game could easily be a video nasty recovered from the 1980s, or a lost Saturn game banned by censors. It is of course neither of those things, but the way it plays with game presentation and its time period are very effective.
Outside of dialogue, gameplay often boils down to a few short logic-based puzzles. The first tasks you with fending off a pack of hungry wolves in the forest, and will require only a few trial-and-error runs before getting the gist. That’s the same for the other puzzles within the one-hour playthrough, including a brutally difficult solitaire game and a circuitry task as you assemble a weapon. One thing that’s quite interesting is that you can diegetically bypass some of the puzzles if you’re struggling. It preserves the narrative focus of Mothmen 1966, and will appeal to the visual novel crowd who may not want to suss out puzzles over experiencing the story.
It’s not the longest game in the world, clocking in at just over an hour to roll the credits, but Mothmen 1966 is an experience worth having nonetheless. It’s very accessible and brimming with nostalgic charm, with an eerie story to boot. With the promise of two more Pixel Pulp games down the line, Mothmen 1966 gets this exciting new experiment off to a very strong start.
Mothmen 1966 is out now on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC. Reviewed on Xbox Series S with a code provided by the publisher.