I don’t really play video games much on my phone, so whenever a new mobile gaming craze comes along I usually pass on it. Sometimes a game will successfully get my attention—like Neko Atsume, Miitomo, and Pokémon Go did—but I usually drop it after a few weeks.
But I am an anime nerd, so non-anime things that usually appeal to otaku fanbase—like Vocaloid—will probably appeal to me too. And that’s why I didn’t drop Mystic Messenger and continued playing with continued interest. And I was curious about the Korean otome hit of the year.
After playing through Zen’s route, here are my initial thoughts… (contains spoilers).
The Members of the R.F.A.
Mystic Messenger would be nothing without its fun and relatable characters that act and behave like actual people. I love these characters. They’re all well-thought out, and when they interact with each other and you as the player, it’s fun!
I love Zen. While he is the very definition of narcissism, he’s also genuine, caring, and surprisingly grounded. As I played his route, I found it amazing how you learn pieces of his past, and I just wanted to give him a hug during his crisis.
Yoosung is literally the son that every player wants to protect. The first two times I played, I failed and Yoosung got taken away by Unknown. This was devastating the first time, and when it happened a second time it was frustrating. I’m now on Yoosung’s route, so we’ll see how that turns out. So far his past is interesting, and I’m very curious to learn more about Rika.
Jumin Han is the cat dude. I like cats a lot, but his personality was off-putting at first. Initially, he seems pretty rude and elitist, but then you learn that he means well and is simply blunt. It’s like how everyone first hated Simon Cowell but then loved him anyway. And whenever Jumin’s obsession and love for his cat Elizabeth III comes up in chats, I always crack up to myself.
Jahee Kang’s the workaholic, which is very relatable to me. I find myself being really nice to her almost all the time because I can relate to always working all the time as a millennial working in NYC. I feel bad for her when work interferes with her personal life. But then she starts getting in between MC and Zen a little much. She means well, but I hope she opens up more on her route… I have a feeling she will.
Oh 707. He’s the troll that posts random things while the rest of the R.F.A. shakes their heads. But as the designated hacker, he’s essential to the organization, and everyone keeps telling me to save his super deep route for last because it’s apparently super deep. I thought he was an annoying troublemaker at first, but then I started to find him funny and caring. I felt so bad for 707 after I almost got kidnapped by Unknown before Zen saved me. When 707 gets serious, you feel the weight of it.
And then there’s V, who I see as that existential hipster of the group that floats around. You could ask anyone in the R.F.A. what V’s up to and you’ll likely get a shrug. In other words, V’s basically the visionary co-founder of the company that now acts as the Chairman—no one has any clue what he does on a daily basis, but he’s important.
Playing the Game
I believe this game is successful because it introduced a phone simulator to the otome genre of gaming. You can chat, text, email, and even call within the game. Of course, answers are predetermined and the whole thing is scripted (maybe someday in the future we’ll have a smart otome game).
Of course when I started, I had no idea what I was doing. After the opening video and a brief, mysterious back-and-forth with Unknown, I was brought to the main screen and had no idea where to start.
With texting, I got confused that I couldn’t keep sending replies. With chats, I eventually figured out that the green rooms were open and that it was possible to miss a chat (like in real life).Soon I learned that hourglasses were essentially the game’s currency that could help you backtrack chats, but at first I was super frugal with them. With email, I felt like I was never going to get anyone to this party.
Despite the confusion and fumbling around, I started having fun (pretty important requirement for a game). While attempting to successfully complete Zen’s route this first time, I found myself checking notifications for this game without hesitation. In fact, I was checking my phone for Mystic Messenger notifications first before looking at anything else. It makes it fun and realistic, but it can also be a problem.
I blame this game for messing up my sleep schedule, and I always miss a handful of chat discussions since I’m at work during the day. Ideally, this game would be best if I played in while in college, but it didn’t exist back then. ^^;
Well technically, the first try I tried to win over Yoosung only to get the Casual Story bad end. I felt so bad for Yoosung; this game was darker than I expected! Oh well, it was my first time playing, but now I knew this would be a little more difficult than I anticipated.
I tried again aiming for Zen… and got the same ending. I was not happy.
What was I doing wrong? I was frustrated and needed an answer so I Googled a website with tips and then learned about the Heart system. That’s right: I had no idea how important hearts where to the game and the progress you make. I thought “those spinning things” that would occasionally show up during chats were just meaningless animations.
Luckily, by then I was smart with the save system and didn’t have to start from the beginning again. Then it finally happened… Zen appeared on the 5th day onward. I could finally progress with this game!
Unraveling the Mysteries
On the surface, you’re basically just chatting members about their day and trying to arrange a fundraising charity party, but the R.F.A. has its secrets and everyone has their story. The mysteriousness of the plot is one of the strongest drivers that has led me to repeated gameplay. With each route you play through, the more you piece together more about the R.F.A. and its cryptic past. I still have so many questions. Do I know by the time I complete 707’s route—which I am saving for last—it’s going to be deep.
Some of the many things I need answers to:
- Who is Unknown and what are his motives?
- How did the R.F.A. begin?
- What was the cause of Rika’s death?
- What is the classified info that requires such high security?
- What other secrets are 707 and V hiding? (The bomb in the apartment was a pretty big deal!)
- How does MC eat and survive while trapped in Rika’s apartment?
One Jazzy Soundtrack
I feel like the music of this game is so underrated. Now, everyone seems to love the general Mystic Messenger theme song, but I love all of the music in this game. From Zen’s jazzy theme, to Yoosung’s carefree summer tune, to the boppy fun of 707’s theme—it seriously makes this game an experience. This music will definitely lead to some future nostalgia when I hear it again.
While I do love my share of cliché electro music, all of the character’s themes are great for easy listening and give the game a more elevated feel. It’s like the Ouran effect—that show was goofy as hell sometimes, but it was still a host club. In Mystic Messenger, 707 may be dressed up as a nun in that photo he shared, but in the end you’re channeling your inner Rika and throwing a party Tamaki would show up to.
So I am now officially sucked into this game with a strong likelihood that I will get through each character’s route at least once. I’m not really the type of player to go through each route and collect each hidden thing, so I’ll likely use the internet to fill in the gaps after a general casual play-through.
I applaud Cheritz for bringing these fun, well-defined characters to life through the medium of virtual chatrooms. With its gripping plot, interesting gameplay, and sophisticated soundtrack, more people need to play this game.
What thoughts do you have on Mystic Messenger? Comment below or tweet me~!
Additional image credits: Cheritz
Hi I’m Mikey Dunn~! I live in New Jersey and work in New York City. Here, you’ll find posts about anime, college advice, tech, and opinions. I also vlog weekly on YouTube about my life.