From Laura Bow to Nancy Drew to Carol Reed, the adventure genre's had some great female sleuths over the years, and now another has just joined their ranks with the launch of Adventures of Isabelle Fine: Murder on Rails.
Izzy isn't any ordinary sleuth, either. She's a "space faring, time traveling, dimension jumping smart mouth" with extraordinary powers... and some limitations. She has been "sent to this timeline on Earth to fix something," but what that is even she doesn't know. Her background and purpose are a mystery, so piecing together her personal narrative puzzle will be very much a part of the player experience, along with solving the central murder that takes place aboard a train. Izzy's main conduit for investigation is a man named Conway, who is able to physically interact with the world in ways that she can't. The pair are close and clearly have a shared history, but Conway is unable to fully remember it, creating yet another layer of intrigue to flesh out.
Presented from a near-overhead perspective with a distinctive art style, Murder on Rails involves a cast of "dastardly" and "fiendish" characters, as well as some "hidden allies" along the way. Identifying the culprit will see players conduct a very typical investigation in some ways: explore the train, question people, and search for clues. But Izzy's unique alien powers also raise whole new gameplay possibilities, like her ability to control minds and change colour to "reflect emotion, mood, ability, intention." Some of these gifts she is still in the process of learning to develop, making this case a journey of self-discovery for her as well.
The full story of Izzy and Conway won't be revealed even by game's end, as the Adventures of Isabelle Fine were always intended to be a series, with one sequel already planned and others hopefully to follow. A solo effort by Steve Caywood of Secret Forest Games, the debut installment is already upon us, as Murder on Rails is available now on Steam for Windows PC.