Last year we played through the incredible Varney Lake and Mothmen 1966, two narrative adventures from LCB Game Studio falling under the Pixel Pulps banner. Now they’re back with a third entry, which takes a diversion away from literal monsters and instead looks at more human ones.

This is Bahnsen Knights, and I couldn’t have been more excited to jump back into the Pixel Pulps world.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.

SATURDAY KNIGHT FEVER
The titular Bahnsen Knights are a cult of (mostly) dudes using Ford Sierras to drive away tornadoes. Whilst this may seem innocuous at first, it’s clear to see that something sinister is afoot after meeting the charismatic, but clearly maniacal, Toni: a leader who fashions himself at the pastor of the group, chanting about road exorcisms and the like. Despite originating as a car salesman, Toni is quite clearly something far different now – something far more dangerous.

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The character you play as is named Boulder: an undercover agent masquerading as a member of the cult, looking for evidence to bring the whole thing down. He’s in it though for more personal reasons, as his former partner was previously working the case and mysteriously went missing. He’s playing a dangerous game as he tries to get his job done whilst also not blowing his cover.

It’s a far larger scale story than previous titles, but it works well due to the game focusing on Boulder and his mission rather than the multitude of characters that the prior games had This one is purely Boulder’s tale and they do a good job at making you feel for his plight. As with the previous Pixel Pulp titles, the writing is absolutely superb and the layer of depth to Boulder’s character gives him a believable sense of depth; he’s a troubled individual that has to fight against his moral code in order to not blow his cover. It’s a shame that outside of Boulder and Toni, there aren’t many more characters that are similarly fleshed out. Given that the game clocks in at around an hour and a half or so, I would have liked to spend a bit more time with the rest of the gang.

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As with the previous games, there’s much more here than just the narrative. Throughout the story you’ll be presented with various choices, along with some more adventure game style situations. The most notable of which take place in the bar, where you need to win over the bartenders trust in order to gain access to Toni’s office to search for as much evidence as possible in order to convict the Bahnsen Knights. It’s certainly a welcome diversion to the narrative and helps to make you feel more engrossed in the world, even if the RNG nature of these sections can make them feel slightly unfair to a certain degree.

There are also a bunch of different minigames available throughout the story, from driving away tornadoes to playing darts at the bar. Unfortunately most of them aren’t really all that enjoyable to play. The driving sections are kinda fun, but the card and darts games are slightly obnoxious and I found playing them to be quite irritating. I didn’t even feel it was even possible to win at the latter, since there were so many times that I was sure I hit the bullseye only for it to land just outside. It’s a shame really as these additional elements really helped to enhance previous titles, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of playing most of the ones in Bahnsen Knights.

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But these minigames are a simple distraction to give your mind a break from the heavy narrative, and in that sense they do what they need to do. It’s easy to get through the whole game in a short sitting, and part of that is due to these sections that help reduce reading fatigue. It also helps that the Spectrum-like visuals are just as beautiful as ever, and this may even be the prettiest game of the trilogy. It’s clear to see that they’re becoming increasingly more confident with this style, and they may have even perfected the visuals with Bahnsen Knights – they’re that good.

VERDICT
This third entry in the series may be the weakest of the Pixel Pulps trilogy, but it still offers an incredibly well-told story with some incredible visuals. Whilst I do wish that the side-games were a bit more enjoyable, and the overall experience was longer, I still think this is an essential purchase for fans of the previous two games.