Despite what may feel like physical limitations during the 80s and 90s, the Choose Your Own Adventure genre flourished with the technological advances of the day. Whether through low-bit graphical DOS titles or the tried and true “flip to page 38 to see what that decision did to your boys” method, it’s hard to put down a CYOA with a delectable plot and the urge to see what path to take. With my ever present love for the retro-indie and my initial inquiry for “why Mothmen?” and “why 1966?” I took a trip down memory lane with LCB Game Studio and their title, Mothmen 1966.
Nothing like a special date under shooting stars, right? What if it was the Leonid meteor shower on a picturesque night in 1966? Being the history major you are, you would be keen to those details. As one of our main three protagonists, Lee, drives his long-time but internally contrite girlfriend Victoria to a surprise date under the stars. Finding the best spot to witness a historic event brings the two to an agreement with an off-the-road gas station owner, Holt, to use his spot for their potentially romantic getaway. But the shooting stars bring more than history to the small station. Large cryptid figures have been spotted as the date rapidly approaches and a few people around have had their interest piqued by more than the stars…
Taking their new interactive adventures into the newly minted genre of Pixel Pulps, Mothmen plays like you took your favorite B-Movie Sci-Fi/Slasher and slapped it on a fresh 32KB Floppy Disk. Mixing Visual Novel tendencies with small brain teasers to break up the clicks, Mothmen was right up my alley and an easy one-sit experience. The characters provided a good amount of depth given the screen time and none really overstayed their welcome or became obnoxious by the end of the story. I especially enjoyed the prologue as it gave off No Country for Old Men vibes and set the stage for the mystery of what was coming.
My biggest love for 1966 has got to be the art style. The green and teal tones supplement a mysterious yet intriguing hue to the outside world while creating piercing images of mysterious figures half-shrouded in darkness, almost straining when illuminated. I love the simplicity on the surface without sacrificing the impact. To convey striking and emotional scenes with such a small amount of graphical power shows a real care for the product and a subtle but noticeable flexing of the muscles.
No date is completely perfect. While Mothmen does carry multiple choices in dialogue which can then branch to different reactions from other characters, all points lead back to the straight line. There are points where a wrong decision can prove fatal, but a quick restart at forgiving checkpoints make it less of a stressful situation and more of a gentle tap on the wrist. For all the ramping up the story does to really press the unhinged nature of the supernatural, especially with a rather busy third act, Mothmen ends rather abruptly and haphazardly. There was so much momentum built with the scene at hand only for the text to read, “THE END,” and you’re a little taken back. Some after-credits bits play up the possibility for more down the road, but we were just getting to the good parts!
But I did enjoy what I got to play. Mothmen 1966 gracefully plays into the nostalgia of the DOS-era while providing a fun twisting tale of the supernatural and all the shenanigans that come with it, even if it is cut off a little too short. Now, if you’ll excuse me…I have a game of Impossible Solitaire to win. Maybe.
Red or black…red or black…
A copy of this game was independently purchased for review.