Well, after seeing one of my Facebook friends sharing fanart and then reading this Siliconera posting about it, I decided to try out Mystic Messenger, a mobile text-based game. At first I thought, 'I'm just going to interact with cute guy characters. It'll be cute and fluff', but there is more than just that. While I wouldn't say "You must experience this now!", I would say there is charm and more humour and tenderness than I would expect -- definitely things that would keep me playing.
Playtime Length (so far): About 11-15 hours each playthrough... I think?
Platform Played on: Mobile
Type of Game: Visual Novel, Text-based Choices, Otome-ish
Game-specific Details: I've already played through Yoosung's route and Zen's route. I am currently going through Jumin's route.
My ImpressionsIn Mystic Messenger, you play a female character who somehow finds herself in the chatroom of RFA, an organization that hosts grand parties for charity. After some interactions with the RFA members, you end up taking the role of party organizer and are trying to convince guests to attend the party. So that's the premise on the surface. The real story comes from interacting with the RFA members leading up to the party date.
For me, I didn't care much for the party organizing aspect of the game. All it is is responding to e-mails from guests correctly three times for at least 15 guests. What I really enjoyed was interacting with the RFA members and seeing them interact with each other. Sometimes their personalities really clash and it's quite amusing to see how the conversations play out.
To get into gameplay technicalities, one playthrough, if played well enough, lasts 11 days in real time. After the 4th day, the game branches out into one of five RFA member story routes (four guy characters, one girl character), depending on which member has the highest "affection" (based off your responses) and if you are playing the Casual Route or Deep Route (the Deep Route starts out locked).
RFA members will interact with you in three ways:
This is the meat of the game and has to be experienced in order to progress the story. Chatrooms are 5-10 minute segments that become available through the course of a day. You can go into the chatroom and interact with RFA members so long as it's the most recent chatroom. If a new chatroom pops up, any previous chatrooms are missed and you will only be able to read snippets of the conversation but not have any interaction. So for example, if Chatroom A pops up at 9 AM, and Chatroom B pops up at 11 AM, you have until 11 AM to go into Chatroom A and interact.
Well... I will say I have a love/hate thing with the chatroom structure. I like that chatrooms pop up throughout the day so that I can spread out my experience with the game. But... if my day is busy, I could end up missing some conversations. However, I do understand that this is one of the ways for the developers to make money since you can re-activate missed chatrooms with 5 hourglasses (the in-game currency -- will talk more about this later).
The chatrooms themselves, well -- it's where all the amusing conversations happen. This is really where you get to see the different personalities of each RFA member and I enjoy this a lot. The chatroom is designed like a social messaging system (I've only experienced LINE and it is similar to that) and I like how it simulates that environment really well, with members using various emojis and text bubbles. Another thing I like are the varied pauses between each message. It really gives the feeling that the members are actually reading and responding to each other or are thinking about their next words.
At certain points of the conversation (if you are going through the most recent chatroom) you will be prompted to select one of two to three possible responses, and the RFA members will respond accordingly. If one of the members like your response, you'll gain affection points for them.
An amusing reaction to my response for another conversation.
This sometimes happens shortly after a chatroom ends. One or some of the RFA members will send you a text message to go a bit further on the conversation that just happened. Most times you can respond. Then they will respond back and that's that. I think responding to text messages is entirely optional, but I'm not sure -- I've always responded when given the chance, lol.
This sometimes happens immediately after a chatroom ends, and you will have 10 seconds to "pick up" the phone. The neat thing about a phone conversation is that the conversation is voiced! Since Mystic Messenger is originally a Korean game, the voicework is in Korean, but there are English text on the screen. Just like in a chatroom, you'll get prompted to give responses every so often. A phone conversation lasts about 3-5 minutes.
Now, you can also call the RFA members, too, but it costs 5 hourglasses to do so and there is no guarantee that the member will pick up. So far, I've tried calling three times. The first time I reached the member's voice mail; the second time the member picked up but was busy and hung up soon after; the third time I did have a conversation and was able to interact.
Now that I've talked about gameplay, I want to say that I enjoy the music in Mystic Messenger. Much of it sounds light, bright, and cheerful, but there are also sad or intense tunes during the more serious moments. Each RFA member has their own theme and I think it adds a bit to their character. My personal favourite is 707's theme, then Jaehee's, then Yoosung's, then either Zen or Jumin's.
As I mentioned earlier, there is in-game currency in Mystic Messenger. The in-game currency are in the form of hourglasses and you can get hourglasses either by spending real money, trading 100 affection points for one hourglass, or... have the game installed now and bank off the free hourglasses the developers are giving away due to making fixes/updates to the game. The latter method will of course disappear once all fixes/updates are done. So far I haven't spent any money on the game and I have over 300 hourglasses due to the fixes/updates.
Here are all the things that require hourglasses:
-Unlocking Deep Route (necessary for Jumin and 707's routes) -- 80 hourglasses
-Unlocking an RFA member's After Ending (aka epilogue) after going through their route -- 20 hourglasses each route
-Re-activating a missed chatroom -- 5 hourglasses
-Calling an RFA member -- 5 hourglasses
-Loading the last saved file -- 5 hourglasses (it is free as of this writing)
-Purchasing the next 24 hours' worth of chatrooms (I guess if you can't wait and want to play the next day all at once) -- 50 hourglasses
I would personally use hourglasses on the first three things, and then sometimes on the 4th thing.
Besides my love/hate thing with the chatroom structure, here are my couple minor gripes with Mystic Messenger:
1. The typos! -- Unfortunately typos often jump out for me, so these are pretty annoying. Thankfully most times I can still decipher what they are really saying.
2. That there is a recommended order for the member story routes -- So I had read in a guide that there is a recommended order to go through, so that each story could be enjoyed with the least amount of spoilers. This only bothers me because the story I want to go through the most, well, has the most spoilers and should be experienced last. Agggg, lol. Considering that I am just starting my 3rd playthrough, that means it will be over 11 days before I can even start the last route. Hahaha... so much waiting >_<!
Okay, I think I've blabbed enough about Mystic Messenger. If you enjoy text-based games, making choices, and watching amusing characters interact with each other, you may also enjoy this. For me, I enjoy all those things so I am glad I tried this out, lol.
Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to comment about anything. :)