Varney Lake (Pixel Pulp Vampiric Visual Novel)


Oooooo, tasty, bloody, and pulpy. I was pretty excited about Varney Lake, not just for the Varney the Vampire references, but for the fact that it was an old-school PC text adventure horror game. Before it dropped the devs let me check out another title they did prior, Mothmen 1966, which was surprisingly deep. Taking cues from the Apple IIe (and similar PCs) text adventure heydey, the point here is to create a form of visual novel in pixelated style, but focused on horror in the pulp tradition. Some would say a smart idea, others genius, especially after playing Varney Lake.


This time around the pixel pulp approach is more dense. The game works as a frame narrative following various characters, including two interviewed by Lou, who’s central to Mothmen 1966. Moving from the present to the past, you learn about a local vampire legend for reals after he bites the shit out of a deer and that’s pretty much the selling moment of Varney Lake. This is followed by plot-building and mini-games that can reveal one of four secret scenes, giving an additional depth to the play. Regardless, the game’s essence is reading and making choices, so is there replay? Well, yes actually, there’s a necessity in finding all the details and learning more through the four secret scenes, but if there’s any reason to play it through again, it’s the stellar staging. Just an awesome, and completely authentic gloom fest set in the world of 1980s computing, but with an artistry rarely seen. The limited color scheme is utilized to its fullest and primitive synth sounds and music are thoroughly creepy. But the story, ah, nothing like finding a new way to milk the vampire without draining it of all its blood.


Varney Lake Official Steam

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

Varney Lake
LCB Game Studio (developer), Chorus Worldwide Games (publisher)
4.7 / 5