LCB Game Studio and Chorus Worldwide are back with a new old-school pulp-inspired pixel visual novel. Can you solve the mystery of the summer of 1954? Check out our Varney Lake review!
LCB Game Studio and Chorus Worldwide are back with a new old-school pulp-inspired pixel visual novel. It’s the second game in the Pixel Pulps series that started with Mothmen 1966, which I got a chance to review last year on PlayStation 4. The story begins back in 1954 when young friends Christine, Doug, and Jimmie go on a summer vacation to the titular Varney Lake.
It’s all well and good as they do what kids do in the summer. You know, until they end up running into a vampire. It’s now 1981, and paranormal investigator Lou Hill is trying to unravel the mystery from almost 30 years ago by following a big lead. He contacts the now 40-something Christine and Jimmy to try and learn the truth about what happened during that summer all those years ago.
The first chapter in Varney Lake begins during that peculiar summer of 1954, and it’s presented from Jimmie’s perspective. Don’t worry. You’ll get to take on the story from the perspective of the other characters as you progress further. Jimmie is joined by Christine and Doug. Christine is a year and ten months older than Jimmie, and she’s Doug’s cousin. She lives alone with her mom since her dad died in the Korean War. Doug is a few months younger than Jimmie and is turning thirteen in a few weeks.
They do things that kids do, such as playing truth or dare, riding their bikes, walking over old wooden bridges that have seen better days – and that could break at any moment just by looking at the thing – or trying to raise the money needed to save the old Varney Lake drive-in theater by outright buying it. Or finding a vampire inside an old mill after crossing the river. And then, watching as he feeds from a deer that he enthralls and calls to his side. You know, the usual. Oh, and they also enjoy playing Solitaire Ten!
The idea is to start from the card you turn over and try to add cards to get ten. The Jack is worth 11, the Queen is worth 12, and the King is worth 13. So how do you get to ten, then? It depends on the color of the card that you choose to turn over and the ones you choose from the board since they will either add or subtract from the total. If the first card is read, then red cards will add to the total, and black cards will subtract. If the first card is black, then black cards will add to the total, and red cards will subtract. Reach ten using all of the ten available cards, and you can shout Super 10 and win outright. If you run out of cards to turn over and can’t make ten, then you count the cards in the pot, and that’s your final score. That Super Ten is important because it’s tied to a trophy.
And yes, as was the case for Mothmen 1966, Varney Lake also has a Platinum trophy for you to work on. That means that once you obtain the XX Bronze trophies, YY Silver trophies, and ZZ Gold trophies, you’ll have one more shiny Platinum to add to your collection! Getting a Super Ten is one of the trophies you’ll have to unlock, along with completing the whole story and watching all secret scenes. Fishing is also part of the experience, so you’ll have to catch a variety of fish – and other assorted objects – before you can get that Platinum. There are even some matchstick puzzles to solve along the way!
Mothmen 1966 was a pleasant surprise on PlayStation 4, and it was the perfect way to kick off the new Pixel Pulps series of old-school-infused visual novels on Sony’s consoles. Mothmen 1966 ran for a few hours, and that’s also the case for Varney Lake. It’s a bite-sized adventure that does not overstay its welcome. It perfectly dials up the pulp factor to 11, and it makes me look forward to Bahnsen Knights, the third entry in the series. Varney Lake is out tomorrow on PlayStation 5 at a $9.99 asking price.
This Varney Lake review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Chorus Worldwide.