Mothman is my favorite mysterious creature. I was always willing to give up everything and defend him. I love the way Mothman wears the tattered grey shroud of the most burial insect, and the way it offsets that with fiery red eyes. What does mothman smell like? Grave, of course, lives in the forest like Bigfoot, but also in the post-human space of abandoned factories and dry industrial towns. Mothman seems to be attracted by the craters and debris of great dreams.
I have more, alas! The Mothman Prophecies is my favorite mystery book because it chronicles a bunch of shadowy beasts, UFOs, lights and what have you, it just goes from page to page, a really lengthy postmodern text, jokingly Twitching the frontiers of faith and our sense of shared reality. I watched this movie on a rainy Sunday afternoon when it came out and was almost ruined by a throbbing migraine, it turned out to be the perfect rain movie for Sundays and migraines – horror again The idea of movies and aliens investigates and turns it all into something that arranges details and points to deep psychological errors. Check out this nifty business with out-of-sync mirrors. It took a terrible love to create it.
Either way, Mothman finally got the game he deserved. And guess what, it’s weird, fun, and unexpected. Sometimes it gets really bad, but it’s short-lived and never enough to destroy my love for it. I love this game because it takes the player back to a really weird place, or two really weird places. Back in 1966 and the American woods, where strange sightings terrified locals, of course. But it also goes back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when schoolchildren would gather around the weird, clunky shapes of early PC monitors and play bizarre games with outrageous color schemes, the best of which defied genre entirely because The genre itself has not yet solidified.
I’m guessing all of this is to say that Mothmen 1966 is a beautiful interactive novel as done as those non-Lucasarts hits of the late 1980s. Colors are food poisoning teal and toxic spilled green from the earliest CGA PC games I remember, pixel art does a disgusting wonder in true crime illustration style, rendering remote locations in pools of light that suddenly float in the dark , as well as emphasizing bumps and shadows on faces.
Over a series of chapters, you switch between a handful of characters who begin to learn about the inhuman powers lurking in the night. For most of the game — the best part — you’re actually just hanging out with these guys, watching what’s going on and scrolling through the text. A guy works late at a gas station and is threatened by a man in black who shows up and wants to do something really weird with the playing cards he uses for poker. Two teens out on a date – we can see things from both perspectives and understand the different concerns that are chewing on each of them. A reporter came to write a book. All of these people gather for a night when the meteor shower peaks overhead. They are surrounded by trees and dilapidated capitalism – what glows between the branches?
Mothman’s 1966 take on literal monsters was better than I expected — it’s nice for Mystery to walk into the light in a way that Mothman’s prophecy books and movies don’t. They start rightly when things start here, the action somehow finding space for the soap opera human plot to continue messing around.
But on the other hand, Mothmen 1966 is definitely the least confident in its attempt to be a traditional game. Multiple choice events usually end in sudden death, which just means reloading and clicking through other options until you find one that will keep you alive. The action-setting pieces are clunky through the text interface, and unfortunately you have to pick the right sentences to play very good card variations. It feels like playing cards with hands reaching into the sterile environment that those gloves go into, they use to manipulate poison.
I can’t believe I’m saying that, but I actually don’t mind any of the more awkward elements of the game. Because part of Mothmen 1966 is a throwback to the games of the early 1990s, because of their weirdness, their stagnant ambitions, often clumsy and infuriating, and often a lack of streamlined elegance. Tmall really feels that way. Most importantly, it reminded me of nights spent at a friend’s house as we all picked up weird shareware in the Galapagos that somehow accumulated from nowhere.
Speaking of the unknown, I finished my Mothman adventure in no time – a few hours. But I’m going to go back and see what different options – different options that don’t result in immediate death – bring me. The game may be a willing return, but it’s very modern, tracking decisions and signaling interesting absences that you might want to re-explore.
I don’t play it during the day though. At least not one day. If I had the right migraines, a rainy Sunday might do it. Otherwise it must be a Friday night, long after everyone is in bed, with just the tubular glow of an old monitor to illuminate the shapes in the living room.