Key visuals from Mothmen 1966

Mothmen 1966 Review

July 18, 2022

By: Tanushri Shah

 
 

“Couples See Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something” is what the headline of a newspaper in 1966 said in reference to the first sighting of the Mothman in 1966. Needless to say, Mothmen 1966 is based on this very encounter that took place over 50 years ago. The first in a series of ‘Pixel Pulps,’ visual novels inspired by mid-20th century pulp fiction, Mothmen 1966 combines horror storytelling with 8-bit graphics. The game’s neon-drenched visuals and cryptid-based narrative pulled me in for an experience right out of a fever dream.

A mothman in Mothmen 1966

Of Moths and Men

Mothmen 1966 takes place across 10 chapters, and interchanges between the perspectives of three people; Holt, a gas station owner taking care of his paralyzed grandma, Lee, a young man riddled with daddy issues, and Victoria, Lee’s girlfriend who’s unsure of what she wants in life. Holt’s been dealing with some strange dreams, while Lee’s been planning the perfect date to see the Leonids meteor shower with Victoria. 

 

On the way to their destination, Lee and Victoria stop by Holt’s, during which they first encounter the Mothmen. At the same time, the trio is met by a paranormal investigator, Lou. When Holt’s dog is taken by the Mothmen, the four of them decide to track down the creature’s origins and the conspiracies surrounding it.

The three main characters you cycle through are alright, and mostly feel like caricatures of people from that period of time. Holt's a working gas station owner who's with a penchant for weapons on the side, Lee's a jealous boyfriend who's always trying to prove his manliness to his girlfriend, and Victoria's hiding the fact that's she pregnant and is having second thoughts about Lee. I couldn't quite bring myself to care about when something tragic happened to these characters, nor did I care much about what choices I would make and how they might affect them.

 
 

As you progress through the game you’ll come across a few dialogue choices that will affect the ending, and there’s only one good ending. The choices you make unlock achievements in the game, so although it only takes a couple of hours at most to get through Mothmen 1966, it’s worth going back for completionists. 

One of the puzzles in Mothmen 1966

When you do end up going back though, the few puzzles scattered through the game are pretty much the same as they were through on your run. In fact, if you end up failing the puzzle at any point, you start over from the very beginning of the puzzle and go through the same exact movements until you figure out the exact sequence of events. The menus for these puzzles also involve unnecessary amounts of text and options which makes them more grueling to get through. 

 
 

For example, one of the very first puzzles you’ll come across is one where you need to sort the items in the store of Holt’s gas station. The game will ask you to select a row, select either the first, second, or third item, select and row again, and then select a second item that will be replaced by the first item. You go through this multiple times until every item is sorted. It’s supposed to be a throwback to the limitations of games from the 80s, but being able to just drag and drop items from the illustration would be a lot less frustrating instead of faux limitation.

The one puzzle I did enjoy wasn’t necessarily a puzzle you had to complete to progress further, but ‘the impossible solitaire’ that Holt’s grandma could never win really had me hooked. Unlike the usual solitaire, it heavily relies on luck after you reach a certain point, hence making dubbing it ‘impossible’ to win. I gave it a good few tries when Holt introduced it in the narrative and gave it another shot after I completed the game. I appreciate the devs including the option of just playing solitaire in the start menu.

The 'impossible solitaire' in Mothmen 1966

Pixel Pulp

Mothmen 1966 is a wild ride with a lot of bizarre things going on. There are three men in black who seem to be everywhere all at once, there’s a goat-man staring into space out of nowhere, and there’s a grandma shooting down mothmen. It’s not the most in-depth in terms of story and characters, and even when you’ve gone through all the endings, you’ll still find some loose threads. It feels like the writers tried to flesh out everything as much as they could but were confined by 10 chapters. 

Without a doubt, the visuals of Mothmen 1966 are what outshine all the other elements. The minimal color palette and use of dithering as a way to blend colors seamlessly are brilliant. The choice of vivid greens and blues with a contrasting bright red adds to the chilling feel of the game. The shots where the camera zooms into the horrified faces of characters, in particular, are astounding.

 
 
Holt from Mothmen 1966

Mothmen 1966 | Final Thoughts

Just like the headline from the newspaper in 1966, my thoughts on Mothmen 1966 can be summarized as “Couples See Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something.” There are a lot of bizarre things happening, and at times it can feel like too much is being crammed into this short narrative. Nonetheless, Mothmen 1966 feels like a trip and a half and is certainly one of the better ways to scratch your eldritch itch.


TechRaptor reviewed Mothmen 1966 on PC with a code provided by the publisher. The game is also on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Review Summary

Review Summary

6.5
A horror narrative with stunning pixel art visuals, Mothmen 1966 tells a wild story albeit with some lackluster puzzles and frustrating text-based menus

Pros

  • Beautiful pixel art visuals
  • Fun mini-game to return to
  • Replay value with multiple endings

Cons

  • Rushed narrative
  • Less-than-compelling characters
  • Text-based puzzles can be a chore