Monorail Stories is a narrative-driven game where you experience a trail of events from the perspective of two main protagonists, Silvie and Ahmal, residents of M and L, the two main cities that are connected by the monorail system that the game takes place on.
Monorail Stories is a short game, taking roughly an hour to an hour and a half to complete, depending on how much you interact with throughout the game. You will experience a week in this world, which is segregated by a morning and evening commute alternating between Silvie and Ahmal, who travel on different trains in opposite directions. You move from left to right, helping fellow travellers who have gotten themselves into certain situations that you need to help solve. For example, you can help get some aspirin, find a lost cat, or even help a famous sportsperson find their championship ring. Silvie and Ahmal are likeable characters with interesting back stories of their own, both coming across as caring, well-likeable members of the community.
The story does have some pacing issues; sometimes I was unsure where I was in the story. The same things can happen in the different carriages, while other story beats will appear only with either Silvie or Ahmal. This doesn’t distract you enough to stop you from playing; it just causes some slight, unnecessary confusion. It’s not all bad, though, because as you progress through the game, you pick up the back story through nicely placed newspapers left lying around on the train, which hint at a rivalry between the two cities. These were very well scattered throughout the game, never feeling overwhelming or like a chore to pick up and check out.
The other way to pick up on what may be going on and to experience the game’s multiple endings is by talking to the many NPCs. The conversations here are interesting, and many have multiple answers for you to choose from, which will determine where you go in the storyline. And it helps that everyone is nicely voiced here, including our two main protagonists. The voices match the character models well without feeling out of place. You’ll get to like the majority of the characters you’ll meet through the well-written dialogue, and considering the short play time, you will feel like you really get to know them. At the end of each day, you receive a breakdown of the choices you made within each segment and character to help you with future playthroughs. And this is an important part of the game, as the more playthroughs you experience, the more new material you will come across, be it new story beats or even brand new characters. Some parts of the plot stay the same through all playthroughs, so certain parts can get slightly tedious.
The style of the pixel graphics used throughout Minirail Stories has been very well animated, with some lovely details included. I noticed only one issue with the toilet doors during the opening animation. The character models are well themed depending on their styles, all with little details clearly visible, which were all very much appreciated. Other little details I noticed were that the skies outside the train were busy with other spacecraft or scenery, the monorail itself was very well detailed, and I loved how the rope handles swung in motion with the train.
The soundtrack is obviously an important factor, and I was quite taken with Monorail Stories, with relaxing lo-fi-style beats playing throughout the game, even playing through the more intense sections, which kept you reasonably chilled. I found myself gently nodding to the beats as I was playing, which did create this unique atmosphere as I played.
Overall, Monorail Stories is a likeable game and perfect if you are looking for a short game with a relaxed and simple play style. With its likeable characters, multiple playthrough promises, multiplayer mode, and lovely graphic style, it is a game that will keep you invested and interested through short play sessions. Even with the pacing issues of the story, you’ll have a good time with Monorail Stories, which will make you wish your daily commutes were this interesting!
Monorail Stories is out now and is available on Nintendo Switch & PC.