First off, I need to make an apology to all visual novel/otome games that I’ve ever dissed or made fun of in the past. I’d always believed them to be simple dating sim games made for people to have an animated hubby/waifu in the reality of a game world. However, a few weeks ago I was alerted of the presence of a cellphone app that people were freaking out and talking about called “Mystic Messenger” so naturally I had to try it.
At first I was a little discouraged to hear Mystic Messenger was a visual novel/otome game that was developed by Cheritz (a company known for catering to the female audience). However, upon launching the app I was entirely hooked. This app was cleverly designed to play out in the form of chatrooms and phone calls and is sprinkled with beautifully drawn visual novels. The use of chat rooms and phone calls is particularly clever–utilizing the common functions of the phones that the app is designed for. More importantly, chats show up on your phone like any other text and are spread out throughout the day as if you were truly chatting with the characters. The chats span all hours of the day and each has different characters involved as if the characters were truly logging on whenever they had the chance. Even late night, 3am chats tend to start with “are you up?” as if a friend was test-texting you before waking you up at 3am. More importantly, if you miss a chat in the game, you have until the next one begins to respond. All of these features gives the app a very real feeling.
Furthermore, the characters have well-rounded personalities. It only takes a few chats to be able to read a chat bubble and know exactly who is talking (even without looking at their profile pics). The characters also have great character growth in their individual routes and each route has a solid story that is engaging and interesting. Plus each route differs in how much information you get for the overall story depending on how involved with the main plot the character whose route your on is. I particularly like that aspect of the game since I’ve now played two route and heard about another from a friend. The differences in each are very interesting and I like hearing more about other characters who weren’t as present in the routes I chose. The frustrating bit is that in order to get a full picture, you need to play all the routes–oh well, at least it’s interesting and well written (even though there are some EXTREMELY cringe worthy lines in there–the writing team behind it seems to be aware though as the characters sometimes call their own lines cringeworthy).
What’s great is that Cheritz and their mastermind of an app has given me a whole new respect for visual novel/otome games. What I believed to be only about “who to date” was instead a discovery of character and plot. Each day, I couldn’t wait for the next days chat to figure out what happened next. It was as good as reading a book–except this way my own choices influenced whether I got a good, normal, or bad ending. Plus, I have to admit, it felt nice to get phone calls from the character who were concerned whether or not I ate or slept. Furthermore, through unlocking two unknown endings, you’ll dive entirely into visual novels with 7 chapters each. These two unknown endings are where the plot gets super interesting and very intense. It was around here that I was really sold on the fact that the game wasn’t just a dating sim–it was a story.
So with new respect for this genre of game, I apologize to it for ever having thought it to be shallow. Perhaps some are, but not all. They are literature all the same. So, even if you think visual novels are a tad cringeworthy, give them a chance. They may surprise you.
Well, that’s all for today. Thanks for reading my mini-review (when did this turn into a game/app review post?!).
Don’t forget to seek out adventure!