Video games can offer very diverse experiences, from shooting people to dating people. It’s a way more diverse medium than film or books, and many games even resemble those other forms too.

Murder on the Marine Express is very much a graphic novel in video game form, and really shows just what you can do with great writing and a solid art style.

Many thanks to 1564 Studio for the review code.


Ranko Togawa is a student of The St. Joachim Academy for elite girls, and she’s currently part of the school excursion on the Marine Express: an underwater train for the super rich than runs across the ocean floor, offering a unique experience for those lucky enough to be on it.

At least, this would have been a dream trip if it wasn’t for the brutal murder of one of the teachers – Mr Sheppard. Ranko’s friend Irene is the main suspect, due to her infatuation with him, but – as Ranko starts to investigate – things may not be quite so simple once the body count starts piling up. With everyone trapped aboard the Marine Express, it’s a race against time to find the culprit before anyone else gets killed.

It’s a classic Murder Mystery case with a compelling mystery at the heart that feeds in enough clues for you to figure things out for yourself before the satisfying ending. It is worth noting though that it does deal with some pretty heavy topics (even heavier than murder!), so be warned if you’re particularly sensitive to those things.


Of course, a story is nothing without good writing and thankfully the game succeeds on that front. Lasting around a few hours, the game offers a well-told tale that keeps events flowing at a fast pace. The mystery at the heart of the story is excellent, but the writing is at its best when it comes to the characters and how they interact with each other. Ranko and her close group of friends are the highlight, but even the rival schoolgirls and teachers all have their own strong personalities.

Accompanying the dialogue is some excellent spritework too, with great environments and characters to set the scene. There’s not a huge amount of animation outside of the characters, but it’s sufficient enough to help set the scene. If there’s any kind of issue with the presentation, it’s with the forgettable music – something that can be forgiven since it at least allows you to focus on the writing more than anything else.

If there’s one major criticism I had with the game, it’s that it is a visual novel more than it is a videogame. Whereas other titles, like My Aunt is a Witch, have interactive elements and minigames to help things flowing, Murder on the Marine Express relies solely on its excellent writing. There may be some extra narrative available via Ranko’s phone, but you’ll be spending all your time just clicking through to the next page. Having some type of interaction, whether it be just examining rooms or key items, would have been nice … although thankfully the game doesn’t necessarily need it.


Those looking for a cheap and excellent murder mystery visual novel will find it here with Murder on the Marine Express. The great characters and intriguing storyline will keep you hooked from start to finish. So long as you’re happy to be purely reading for a few hours, this is a game you won’t want to miss out on.