Mothmen 1966 Review: This Solitaire Simulator Has a Great Story
Developed by LCB Studios
Published by Chorus Worldwide
Available on PC
I’m a mothman fan. A moth-fan, if you will. Media involving the humanoid moth weirdo from West Virginia is some of my favorite. There is just something compelling about that particular cryptid. It flies, it has glowing red eyes, and it bothers people driving down dark highways. The stories range from believable to nonsensical, but their staying power over the years is unarguable. There is a dearth of mothman content outside of like, Fallout 76, so I’m happy to see that Mothmen 1966 is bringing our favorite moth creature to our PCs in style.
Mothmen 1966 feels like a demake of something like Until Dawn. You’re presented with a cast of characters, and play through them over the course of a dangerous night. You have the rockheaded and quick to anger Lee, driving his girlfriend Victoria out to an old gas station in the woods to watch the Leonid meteor shower. Victoria is also one of the playable characters, and she’s stuck between the urge to get away from Lee and live her own life, and the pregnancy she doesn’t know if she should tell Lee about. From the outside, Mothmen 1966 seems like a schlocky horror story, but when you actually get into the meat of it, there is a well-written and at times poignant
Lee struggles with his abusive upbringing, Victoria struggles to make herself heard. The third player character, Holt, struggles to understand his place in the world. After a night time visit by three well-dressed strangers clad in black, Holt begins to wonder if the strange dreams he’s been having might be more than just dreams. Each chapter is presented from the point of view of a different character. In a Holt chapter you might be doing things like organizing the shelves at the gas station he works at. A Lee chapter usually has him battling with his overwhelming urge to be as masculine as hell despite deeply doubting himself. As the night wears on, the characters all converge on the gas station Holt runs; Victoria and Lee to watch the stars, Holt because he works there, and Lou, a non-playable character who is investigating strange occurrences around the town in Mothmen 1966.
The game is presented in this pixelated, 3 color style that fits excellently with its overall pulpy aesthetic. This is the first in a series of planned “pixel pulps”, Mothmen 1966 captures the feeling of an old pulp novel mixed with the choices matter type gameplay of something like Until Dawn. I say choices matter, but choices in Mothmen 1966 really just fall into 3 categories: The correct choice, the choice that gets you killed, the correct choice but with a bit more dialogue. It’s not a deep system but it is engrossing. The game doesn’t overstay its welcome, and I managed to finish it in about an hour, give or take 15 minutes. The game doesn’t have an autosave so far as I know, and it can be easy to misclick after a failed choice, as “retry” and “main menu” are absurdly close to each other. Accidentally clicking main menu without save means no matter how far in you are, you’re going to have to restart the game from the top.
Before I wrap up, I suppose I should talk about solitaire, since it is very prominently in the title of this review. In one of Holt’s early chapters, you’re introduced to impossible solitaire. The goal of the game is pretty much like solitaire, but when you’re stuck and you want to draw a card, you have to guess if it will be a red or black card. Guessing wrong ends the game. I spent an inordinate amount of time playing impossible solitaire. It could be a game on its own. Thankfully, once you decide to continue the story, you can thereafter access impossible solitaire from the main menu.
All said and done, I’m excited to see more of these pixel pulps. If Mothmen 1966 is indicative of the quality they’re putting into this series, I’m all for it.