This review is spoiler free.
Mystic Messenger is a Korean otome game created by Cheritz. You play as a female protagonist with five suitor options. Of those five, one is female. The game begins when your character downloads an app, and a mysterious person named “Unknown” hacks into your phone via the app. He tells you he found someone’s smartphone, but he’s abroad and cannot check the listed address. He asks you to check. Once there, Unknown disappears, and you are thrust into the midst of an organization known as R.F.A.
R.F.A., Rika’s Fundraising Association, led by V and Rika, hosts charity parties to fund initiatives for people in need. Before Rika died, she managed the guest list and planned the parties. Now you’ve been chosen to replace her.
Suitors can be selected based on the shallow game or the deep story. Unlike other Otome games, you do not select your route at the beginning. Your route is determined by your choices. Zen, Jaehee, and Yoosung story lines are available to play immediately. Save up hourglasses during the initial playthroughs or purchase the hourglasses outright to unlock the Deep Story. In Deep Story, 707 and Jumin are accessible.
ZEN is a musical actor and model. His narcissism and ego are the only things bigger than his fame. He counters his smoking habit and high-alcohol-tolerance by spending too many hours at the gym. Zen wears his emotions on his sleeve and frequently butts heads with Jumin. He has silvery hair and red eyes.
Jaehee Kang is a work-a-holic, not completely by choice, as Jumin Han’s assistant. Much to her dismay, Jumin treats her like slave labor and often leaves his cat with her when he goes on business trips. She’s practical and level-headed but not cold. Glasses frame her brown eyes, and her brown hair is cropped in a pixie style.
Yoosung is a young college student with a gaming obsession. He is Rika’s cousin, but he claims to be more like a brother to her. Though naive, he is sweet, emotional, and deeply affected by Rika’s passing. He has a dark spot against V, Rika’s boyfriend. His blonde hair is tied back in the front to reveal his bright purple eyes.
707 is a professional hacker, the creator of the app, and in charge of all cyber security for the group. He’s your quintessential class clown, but he harbors a mysterious dark side. Afterall, when you’re a secret agent, your secrets can cost lives. 707 has red-orange hair, yellow eyes, and tiger-striped glasses.
Jumin Han is rich beyond measure as the heir to his father’s company. As the king of keeping emotions in check, he scolds others for losing their cool. He is level-headed, logical, and not afraid to be brutally honest. His first and only love is his white cat, Elizabeth the 3rd. He has dark hair and cold, gray eyes.
There are four key components to the gameplay. As Rika’s replacement, you will need to keep up with the chat room, respond to guest emails, and exchange private messages and phone calls with the other members. The game takes place over the course of eleven real life days or less, depending on which ending your choices take you.
If you make it to day 11, you will witness the grand finale – the party.
Chat Room: This is the main driver of the game’s story. New chat rooms occur throughout the day at predetermined times, but unless you look them up, they feel random. You can pay hour glasses to participate in chats you’re not already scheduled in, which is a must in chats where your chosen suitor is. Depending on your responses, you may also earn extra hour glasses to use later.
When you participate in a chat, you will have the option to respond in the chat to the characters with multiple choice selections. Once you pick an answer, a colored heart will pop up on the screen to let you know who you earned the relationship point with. 707 is red, Jaehee is yellow, Jumin is purple, Zen is gray, and Yoosung is green. Not all answers earn points, however.
At some point, you will break a heart – here’s hoping it’s not your suitor’s. Inevitably, you will have to side with one person over another in a conversation, and that will result in a negative impact on the relationship. Also, in one-on-one conversations, there may be a response that will completely shatter your relationship if you’re not careful. Avoid these heartbreaks if you want a good ending.
Story-based cut scenes are interwoven with the chats, and the further you get into a suitor’s particular story line, the more you will see. Some of these cutscenes allow you to answer with multiple choice selections with the ability to add additional relationship points.
Email: In the course of the chats, one of the characters will suggest a guest to invite for your approval. The guests will vary depending on your storyline. If you accept, the prospective guest will send you an email. Each email ends in a trivia question pertaining to his or her occupation that you will have to answer with multiple choice. This will occur for each guest 3 times.
If you get the first question wrong, the guest will not attend the party. One correct answer will give you a low chance the guest will arrive, while two correct answers have a good chance the guest will come. If you answer all three questions correctly, the guest will attend the party. It is important to have as many guests as you can get to get a good ending.
Messages: On occasion, you will receive private messages from the characters. Like the chat feature, you may have the option to respond with multiple choice selections. A correct response will net you positive relationship points.
Phone: After certain chats, you will a receive phone call from one of the suitors. The phone call is the character talking, and sometimes you will have a few options to pick from to respond. It appears your selected responses have no bearing on your relationship level with the character. The positive impact on your relationship comes from the phone call itself, so answer your phone or call them back.
You can call any character at any time, but it will cost 5-hour glasses per call. It’s important to know that calling a character does not guarantee he or she will pick up the phone. Phone cards can be purchased in-game, but they are not necessary to get a good ending.
Each suitor has one good ending and several “bad” endings. Just because it’s a “bad” ending doesn’t mean the events are catastrophic. If you reach a bad ending, the game will end and reset back to day one.
I haven’t played a truly fantastic Otome game like this since Midnight Cinderella. The interwoven stories and the overarching plot are complex and interesting. The plot is far deeper than it first appears with twists and secrets I never saw coming.
Each character has a distinct personality with a balance of good and bad qualities – there will be something that you love and hate about each of them.
The gameplay is unique and incredibly realistic. I deleted the app off my phone the first time I downloaded it because the realism freaked me out.
For the optimized story, the game recommends wooing each candidate in a specific order: Zen, Yoosung, Jaehee, Jumin, and 707. When I play Otome games, I like to pick and stick with one suitor. I don’t like playing through the same story over again, and I feel like I’m betraying my first love. That’s just my personal preference. Going through each suitor’s story unveils this magnificent story like petals in a blooming rose. If you don’t mind putting in the time and effort, you will be rewarded. I was impatient, so I paid $2.99 to unlock deep story and went straight for 707.
The mainline story for 707 is a rollercoaster of emotion with an intense and beautiful story line. I imagine the others are just as good, even though I feel 707’s story is the most pivotal to the over-arching plot.
After unlocking 707’s good ending on my first try, I checked a walkthrough and realized my selections didn’t match up completely. You don’t have to get 100% positive responses to get ending, so long as you don’t break your suitor’s heart.
After completing the game, you have access to the character’s after-ending and bonus content. After one playthrough, I did not have enough hour glasses to unlock the after ending for 707, so I just looked up his story. Probably not ideal, but impactful none the less.
If you’re into collecting in Otome games, this one is a good choice. There is a collection menu for character photos, guests, and after endings that you can obtain by completing the character story lines and endings.
If you’re an Otome fan and you haven’t played this game, I suggest you download it immediately.