Developed by Stelex Software and published by Freedom Games. Monorail Stories offers a short, charming, and relatively grounded experience that will have you going back for a second and possibly a third time. Last week, amidst the phenomenon that was hurricane Ian I found myself without electricity. Needless to say, my Steam Deck was fully charged and ready, so I dived into Monorail Stories before bed each night. This was the perfect game to play before bed, for it offered bite-sized sessions where I could play for about 30 minutes and make significant progress. With a cast of colorful characters and a variety of endings, this is an experience that is best understood with multiple playthroughs.
The story revolves around two individuals by the names of Silvie and Ahmal, residing in cities named M and L. The game takes place within a week, all while in the confines of a monorail that connects the mentioned cities. You will be switching between characters as you progress the story, all while uncovering more about the history of the monorail, and the commuters themselves. From lighthearted conversations to bitter rants you will find that while you don’t get to explore the cities of M and L, the history and controversies found within them are palpable via character interactions.
From newspapers to visual changes in the environment, you will experience a world that is in constant change. These changes can be as small as a vending machine not working after a while, to police helicopters flying in the background during certain events. Have in mind that while both leads travel on the same monorail, it is at different times and never run into each other. However, although Silvie and Ahmal are never in the same room at the same time, certain decisions made will impact the other person. Such as relationships with other characters or certain items being present in different locations. While short, Monorail Stories gives you moments where you can develop relationships or build tension with other commuters.
The gameplay is simple and to the point, you move right or left to explore your surroundings. During interactions, you will be given a list of options that may range from striking up a conversation with a character to inquiring about an item to inserting a coin into a vending machine. Some dialogue moments will have a timer indicating how long you can ponder your choices. Given that this is a game with decisions to be made, those decisions will have consequences.
These consequences are not always immediately apparent, as some may take longer to reflect its effect while others are near instant. One such consequence is the reactions various characters will have to what you choose to do or say. These are indicated with one of two symbols, a +1 with a heart indicating a positive reaction or a -1 with a small flame indicating a negative reaction. Due to the various decisions and reactions that are possible, Monorail Stories features multiple endings. Some are more dramatic than others yet they always leave you with the possibility of there being more in store for the characters. Depending on which ending you get your run could conclude as soon as a half hour into your playthrough to a couple of hours.
The gameplay is nicely complemented with visuals consisting of simple yet stylistically made pixel graphics that are well-defined, allowing for a visually pleasing experience. Although charming, Monorail Stories will feature moments of great tension between characters. However, this never deters from the relaxing mood that it achieves in the player, which is of course amplified by Filippo Zanoli’s consistently calming soundtrack from beginning to end. Speaking of audio, while not overly complex the audio design is effective and can convey different sounds found in a monorail.
The voice acting is full of personality, clarity, and nuanced enough to provide you with an idea of what the characters are feeling and where they stand in regards to their perspective of you as an individual. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed listening to the conversations between the different characters, and how much I was able to gather about who they are thanks to the voice actor’s performances. These very performances subtly guide you toward a positive outcome when you pay close attention.
Monorail Stories includes an asynchronous multiplayer experience that allows two players to play as either Silvie or Ahmal, impacting the opposing player’s path based on your own decisions. I was not able to partake in this mode due to not being able to find anyone when matchmaking, so I won’t be deducting points for that. It will instead be in its favor the fact that it even has a multiplayer option, considering its size and how well thought out the game is.
Monorail Stories puts us in the shoes of two delightful individuals whose day-to-day is filled with human interactions that are driven by altruism or selfishness. While some events may feel repetitive when doing multiple runs, the endings are distinct enough to make up for a playthrough with occasional monotonous moments. You can feel the charm and care put into this short yet pleasantly relaxing title. Whether you complete the game in one sitting or in small bursts, your time feels respected and well-rewarded by the end of each session.
Should You Play This Game?
I definitely recommend this title if you are looking for short gaming sessions where you can relax and enjoy a simple yet charming story. However, if you are looking for an incredibly engrossing story with dozens of hours of content and a cast of deeply developed characters then this game might not be for you.
You can find Monorail Stories on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
- Grounded yet interesting story
- Multiple endings
- Charming performances
- Leaves room for future stories to be explored further
- Playthroughs can feel repetitive when exploring other endings
- It could have spent more time developing certain story threads