Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Mothmen 1966

Mothmen 1966 takes place on the night of November during the Leonid Meteor Shower, a group of people bears witness to much more than your ordinary cosmic comet night sky event. This meteor shower brings with it a rise of new beings that walk, stalk, and fly through the night. Four people—Holt, the gas station owner, Lee, a history student, Victoria, his girlfriend, and Lou, a writer, and paranormal investigator—are trapped in the woods with creatures closing in. Only if they work together can they hope to survive this strange night. 

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

Visual horror novels have something of a disadvantage when it comes to spooking the audience. Namely, it doesn’t really have the ability to actively have something stalking or waiting to scare you. It relies almost entirely on the strength of its narrative and the effectiveness of creating an unsettling vibe. Mothmen 1966 exceeds in both respects. 

It’s not easy to take the schematic of the Mothman and turn it into a narrative. Indeed, there is extremely little lore surrounding the creature. So LCB Game Studio created their own. In Mothmen 1966, as the name suggests, there are all kinds of mothmen: Dogmen, Rabbitmen, Moosemen, and moremen, all transformed by the passing comet and meteor shower, engaged in a war for survival against the Humanmen. Certainly not something you’d glean from the Wikipedia page. 

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Being as Mothmen 1966 is a visual novel, much of the game is played by clicking the mouse button to continue to the next bit of dialogue. The choices you make are not too plentiful, and more often than not, if you choose wrong you die and start from a few moments prior. But In addition to reading, there are a few fun instances of gameplay. There is a unique minigame of a new ‘impossible’ solitaire that in my experience lives up to its name, and even a turn-based puzzle involving an antique machine gun and hordes of mothmen.

What Works:

As I said earlier, Mothmen 1966 has an impeccable vibe. The visual style adheres to the retro video game graphics with grace, and the audio quality is both authentic and incredible. More importantly than that, the mystery surrounding the Mothmen is something I could have never guessed, and the story is fascinating and unnerving with brilliant human characters that will keep you engaged throughout. 

What Doesn’t:

As with many visual novels, or really novels in general, there doesn’t seem to be much room for deviation from the main story. Not that this is too crucial a problem, but giving the player options to choose from leads to the assumption that the story of Mothmen 1966 itself will unfold in different ways. For the most part, I really didn’t notice anything significant changing, besides the occasional game over. Disappointing, but certainly not game-breaking.

How To Fix It:

For a story this short, it would be nice to have a handful of endings. At least endings that don’t end in the player being eaten halfway. Visual novels give an incredible amount of flexibility to a narrative, and having some sharply branching pathways would allow Mothmen 1966 to become a truly masterful story piece. That said, this is the first part of a trilogy, and I’m looking forward to seeing if there are intersections between Mothmen and the next two stories. 

Wanky Musings:

In my time writing for Dread XP, I’ve come to the conclusion that horror is about vibes. Ultimately the graphics or sound or setting could be entirely amateurish as long as the vibe is captured. Vibes are an ephemeral thing, and it’s hard to describe what makes one effective or not. But despite lacking jumpscares or creepy crawly heebie jeebies, Mothmen 1966 delivers an incredible pulp-sci-fi-occult-horror vibe that LCB Game Studios has studied and mastered. 

You can buy Mothmen 1966 on Steam by clicking here