I have an obsession with urban legends and a fondness for old-school gaming, so the premise of Mothmen 1966 appealed to me immediately. A narrative-driven adventure that focused on the myth of mothmen, all stylised as if you were playing on the ZX Spectrum? Count me in.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Mothmen 1966’s main focus is on its storytelling, so I’ll try to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum here.

Alternating between the roles of Holt (a cranky yet friendly fella who runs a gas station), Lee (a history student that’s looking to take his girlfriend on a romantic date), and Victoria (Lee’s girlfriend who is hiding the fact that she’s pregnant), players will work through a series of short chapters as they see the events of the night unfold in front of them. Between mysterious men in black and the titular mothmen that stalk the skies, what should be a normal night ends up turning into a fight for survival for the trio, with peculiar and deadly events occurring at every turn. Will you survive the ambush of a pack of coyotes? Will you be able to stop the mothmen from taking you away? Will you be able to get an old civil war weapon working? These are the things that determine whether or not you’ll make it to the end of the night.

Whilst Mothmen 1966 offers plenty of interesting choice-making throughout its story, I rarely found that my decisions really bore any consequence. Sure, you might cause friction between characters here and there, but it didn’t change how events would really play out. I played through the game twice and made completely different choices both times, but the game still ended the same way. I don’t know if I’m missing something somewhere, but you shouldn’t expect a deep narrative adventure where you get to determine the outcome – instead, it’s a story with a set beginning, middle, and end.

“Whilst Mothmen 1966 offers plenty of interesting choice-making throughout its story, I rarely found that my decisions really bore any consequence.”

The only real consequence would be that you might die, with plenty of ‘game over’ screens to be found based upon your actions. These didn’t change up the narrative though, but instead give you the option to simply retry and make a different decision. Whilst it’s nice to see that your choices can be deadly for characters, the fact that they were ultimately made inconsequential did make the narrative freedom offered by your decision-making feel superficial.

I should emphasise that I did enjoy the story though. Whilst it was disappointing that your choices don’t affect it all that much, seeing the many twists-and-turns play out or getting to interact with eccentric characters like Lou kept me absorbed in the tale. It doesn’t do anything too surprising, but there are plenty of clever ideas within it that tie to real-life urban legends in some genuinely intriguing ways. It’s not too long (I finished my first playthrough in around an hour), but there’s plenty on offer within that short time to keep players invested.

Check out some screenshots down below:

There are some mini-games on offer to bring some variety to the visual novel setup too, with players having to solve a puzzle to operate an old gun, shoot out lights to keep the mothmen off their back, or even play a card game during their journey. That card game (known as ‘Impossible Solitaire’) is actually REALLY addictive, so much so that the developer included the option to play it separately on the main menu. The only problem with these mini-games is that they’re fiddly to control, with players not using an individual cursor but instead interacting with them by selecting text-based options – whilst it fits the old-school setup that the game is going for, it feels cumbersome here and makes what should otherwise be simple mini-games feel needlessly awkward.

Speaking about old-school, one thing I really liked about Mothmen 1966 was its classic ZX Spectrum-style visuals, with the game’s aesthetic making it easy to believe this is a release that originally hit back in the 80s. It’s simple but stylish, with the limited colour palette actually complementing the surreal nature of the adventure itself. Add to that the sound design that also feels befitting of the era and it’ll be easy to see that Mothmen 1966 does a good job of replicating a classic age of gaming.

Mothmen 1966 Review

Mothmen 1966 is a cool little game, but the lack of narrative freedom and the sometimes-clumsy mini-game controls do hold it back. I was hoping the decisions I made in the story would carry more weight or that there would be multiple endings, but everything just felt inconsequential in the end. It’s a shame because it would have added more replay value to what is otherwise a short experience.

Still, whilst it has its flaws, I did enjoy my time with it. The kookiness and old-school presentation ticked plenty of the right boxes for me, as did the addictive ‘Impossible Solitaire’ (which I still find myself playing now). I’ll certainly be keeping my eye on future releases from the team at LCB Game Studio, but fingers crossed that my decisions in those games will have a greater effect on the story’s outcome.

Developer: LCB Game Studio
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Website: https://chorusworldwide.com/mothmen1966/