Review: Time Princess - The Moravia Express

The latest Time Princess visual novel is a good old British murder mystery around the turn of the 20th century that takes place aboard a train. It incorporates plenty of popular tropes while also adding some new twists the genre. It is most similar in tone to the previous release from this game called Have You Seen Claudia? right down to the "gotcha" twist ending. The character and plot development are some of the best this game has released in recent months, which shows appear that their writers all have different strengths. I would have loved to see this level of worldbuilding in one of their fantasy stories. The visual novel was well-written and would have been very enjoyable if it hadn't been for the secret ending.

You play as Bianca Finch, a businesswoman and aspiring actress who purchases a VIP ticket for the wrong train at the wrong time. She soon finds herself wrapped up in a conspiracy revolving around the murder of another actress named Chloe Swann that had taken place a year or two prior. The other VIP passengers all have some sort of connection to Chloe. After one of them is murdered in the name of vengeance for Chloe's death, Bianca funds a project to build a time machine so she can go back to prevent the murder on the train and find the true culprit. Everything seems to wrap up well after her second attempt until she realizes that nothing is quite what it seems. After completing most of the story's main endings, a final section unlocks that switches the story's genre from a murder mystery to a psychological thriller.

This visual novel has three companions who are all share a connection to unfortunate Chloe Swann. Cortland Rask is the primary love interest and the victim that Bianca goes back in time to save. Because was the primary suspect in Chloe's murder, the other passengers on the train do not take kindly to him. Bianca feels she can trust him for reasons that are never quite explained until the end and tries to protect him from those seeking vengeance for a murder that she does not believe he committed. Eirene is a nervous young woman who tries to use underhanded methods to prevent Bianca from boarding the train. Though Bianca does not understand her motives, she finds it difficult to dislike someone who is already so unsure of herself. The final companion is Renard Keller, a renowned psychologist who has lengthy discussions about his work that foreshadow the twist at the end of the game.

I would say this story was the opposite of Lunar Legend, which focused more on introducing a new clothing style to the Time Princess wardrobe than it did on the plot. Instead, The Moravia Express focuses heavily on plot and characters. The clothing, while nice, provides nothing we haven't already seen in this game. There are a number of turn-of-the-century fashions ranging from casual to formalwear. While nothing particularly stood out to me, I did like the range of styles the story provided while still remaining pretty accurate to the time period. The outfit Bianca wears to disarm a bomb is particularly unique because it incorporates a stylized version of metal armor. My favorite piece was her formal ballgown with a blue sweetheart bodice, lacy white skirt, and matching tights that reminded me of my childhood.

The Moravia Express is a well-written mystery story that would have been a lot of fun to explore if it hadn't been for the disappointing ending. The "gotcha" factor wasn't entirely out of the blue as the game provided plenty of foreshadowing, especially if the player spends a lot of time with Renard, but it successfully killed the mood, which was already rather grim after dealing with things like murder and suicide. It leaves players with a feeling of hopelessness and defeat, even after going back in time for a chance to make everything right. The initial three outcomes are far more optimistic and satisfying than the "true" ending. On a final note, I thought the facial expressions for the villain of the story were hilariously over the top. How did you feel about this visual novel? Let me know in the comments!


Sugar said…
Please tell me that the true ending twist isn't something like "oh the protagonist killed the actress but she didn't remember because she blocked her memories herself" or..."it's something like Mr. Hyde!
Lisa Dawn said…
Nope, it was quite the opposite of that.
Sugar said…
Oh hahaha I think I just discovered the twist but I don't want to be inconsiderate to spoiler haters ;)
In other news I have noticed that the horribly fast pace of romance animes (making insta love or having the romantic relationship build too fast to be touching) is due to the few episodes that give current animes the most they get 12 episodes and few 25 or 26.
Lisa Dawn said…
Yeah, I figured that, but they don't even build it up over the 12 a lot of the time. They already put them in a relationship by the end of the first episode and go from there.
Sugar said…
If they wait until episode 2 or 3 it's already miraculous hahahaha.
I guess with 12 episodes I'd rather they take 11 to fall in love and kiss in 12, unpopular view I guess I'm an old fashioned girl.
Lisa Dawn said…
I feel exactly the same! I think Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is going more in that direction. By the way, I watched Three Wishes for Cinderella last night but didn't think it was anything special. For one thing, I couldn't find it in its original language, and the English dub was awful.
Sugar said…
Sugar Apple looks better...not perfect since it only has 12 eps I would have given it 26 to be perfect but it's going well, Finne and Baldur from Liselotte's anime I really like too.
I have yet to see the original film as I found the remake somewhat confusing as to what it wanted to be a modern female empowerment story or a classic romantic fairy tale? That ending of oh I love you but I don't want to marry you! It was anticlimactic hahaha.
Lisa Dawn said…
Yeah, I agree. I haven't seen the original film either
Unknown said…
The ending was so bad that I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. The story was doing great until 2-16 and I feel so disappointed. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

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