The holidays are coming up and some of you know what that means. For me, it means sitting around a dinner table trying desperately to avoid any kind of political discussion. It also means steering discussions away from jobs, school, buying a house, and the dreaded “boyfriend question”
It never fails. I only see most of my extended family twice a year and twice a year I get the same question, “When are you going to get a boyfriend?” Or worse, they’ll ask about an ex I haven’t dated in almost a decade.
If you’re in the same boat, I have a solution. It’s an otome game so involved that with a little bit of timing, you’ll look like you have a partner. At the very least, you’ll look like you have someone blowing up your phone that you can say is your new boo. The answer? Mystic Messenger.
Mystic Messenger is the inaugural game by Korean otome game company Chertiz. Currently, they now have 3 games over their 5-year tenure and focus on games for women. The story starts with you downloading what looks like a messaging app. Immediately, you’re connected to an unknown person who says they found a phone and asks you to visit the address of who they think is the owner. In doing so, you are connected to another chatroom with 5 people who are surprised you were able to download their private app!
As the game progresses you find out what the app’s purpose is and get to know each of the five participants through group message conversations and private messages. There’s even the occasional phone call.
In the game, there are 6 romance options to choose from. All six of them are men. There is a route for a woman, but she is not really romanceable. They are divided into three categories “Casual Story,” “Deep Story,” and “Another Story.” In order to unlock the characters in the Deep Story and Another Story categories, you have to use the in-game currency; Hourglasses.
Where the game really shines, is gameplay. Group chats are unlocked in real time on a set schedule. This mimics people actually logging on and chatting throughout the day. Based on the schedule, an entire story is designed to be played over the course of 5 real-life days.
While I love this function it does come with a few downsides. First, if you want to participate in all of the chats, you have to plan your life around them. Depending on your schedule and responsibilities, that might be hard. Second, if you miss a chat, you can view it but you’re unable to participate unless you use Hourglasses. And if you’re used to powering through otome games in a day or two like I am, nearly a week to finish a single story can seem like an eternity.
Speaking of in-game currencies, there are two. First, the Hourglass. These are mostly paid and can be used to participate in missed chats. They can also be used to unlock future chats if you don’t want to wait, and place a phone call the characters at any time. The prices for Hourglasses are pretty reasonable and the cost of unlocking items in both the Casual and Deep storylines are reasonable as well. The price to unlock game options with Hourglasses are quite expensive in the Another Story storyline.
There are ways to receive free Hourglasses. With each chat you view, there is a chance to be awarded free Hourglasses. And when the game updates, there is a chance to receive free Hourglasses as an apology for the wait.
The second in-game currency is Hearts. Hearts cannot be bought and they are earned through your responses. They denote how much members of the group like your response. The color of the heart represents which character like your response. There are good and bad endings for each character, so it is very important to earn as many as possible for the character you’re trying to romance. As a plus, if you’re short on Hourglasses, you can exchange Hearts for them.
Now, back to your family dinner. Here are a few ways to make your family think you’re taken:
- Plan your dinner for when chats are unlocking – On each day, there are a few chats that unlock during standard dinner hours. Alternatively, you can also use Hourglasses to unlock chats you have missed or future chats if you’re looking for a little more flexibility. With the game’s sound effects, each chat sounds like you’re having a conversation with a special someone.
- Have your sweetie call you during dinner. Character phone calls are also scheduled, so use this to your advantage. Be careful, however, that you excuse yourself to listen to the phone call. All of the characters are voice acted, but the conversation is in Korean.
- Need to be rescued, but there’s nothing scheduled? If you have a few extra Hourglasses, call your sweetie! The game provides a calling screen that looks real enough at first glance. Be sure to be in a safe spot before the voice acting begins though! Unless, of course, you know Korean. Good luck!
Overall, I would give Mystic Messenger 5 Grey Hearts out of 5. I would recommend this game to everyone except complete beginners to otome games and the extremely inpatient. This game is a little involved for someone who hasn’t already decided they love otome games. I was a seasoned veteran when I first played this game. If this was my first I would have given up long before I truly appreciated its genius. For the extremely impatient, waiting for things can be a drag and if you’re on a budget, buying those Hourglasses to unlock everything can add up quickly.