Here I am about two years too late writing about this, but oh boy, how could I not?
For the past two weeks or so, there has only been one social media site that I’ve been interested in. A social media site that isn’t even real at that. For the past two weeks or so I’ve been trying my best to organise a fundraising party – again, a fictional one – at the request of six attractive, well respected – fictional – people. That’s right. I’ve finally been sucked into the world of Mystic Messenger – a Korean visual novel built around the concept of text messaging and phone calls.
It hasn’t been my first introduction to the game by any means. I remember downloading the game back when it first came out, but I had little patience to wait around for the chatrooms to open and I was a little conscious about what people would think if they saw that I had it on my phone. Fast forward two years to a time where I don’t really care what people think and to a time where my patience levels have drastically improved and here we are.
Developed by Chertiz, the game allows the player to take on the role of a female protagonist who has downloaded a rather mysterious app onto her phone that leads her into living in secured apartment which is owned by someone called Rika – the founder of a charitable foundation called Rika’s Fundraising Association (or the RFA). The protagonist meets six people, the other members of the RFA, and is tasked with the organisation of a party that the members have been longing for. In doing this, the protagonist is able to choose one of the members to eventually date as well as finding the absolute truth about the RFA.
Now, me being me, on my first run I simply acted how I would act if they were genuine conversations, which the game didn’t entirely like and I ended up with the bad ending. Yup, not only are there many routes you can take, there are also many endings as well. I ended up with the bad ending for a couple of reasons. Not only did I fail to be completely biased to any particular member, the e-mail function didn’t even work for me until the fourth day, meaning there was no way I could invite the minimum amount of guests for a good ending anyway.
The bad ending, without giving any spoilers away, is certainly a weird one and I was quite tempted to just delete the app and call it a day. However, I wanted to see what a good ending was like. What’s the point of only experiencing half a game? So, I decided to start the game all over again and try to get a good ending. This time, I focused on getting to Zen’s route, complimenting his looks and encouraging him in his career whenever prompted. Putting it like that, it sounds incredibly vain and boring, but behind Zen – and every other character – is a backstory that is revealed to you as the story progresses. Certain events occur throughout the story that makes you invested. You just want to play it to the end and see what happens to certain characters. You learn about other characters in the process. You’ll laugh and you’ll squeal for sure, and sometimes you’ll even have a sinking feeling from time to time.
Having completed the Casual Story mode following Zen’s route, am I going to be playing the game more? Absolutely. There are several story modes left to explore, not to mention the different character routes themselves. I want to experience as much of it as I can now that I’ve caught the bug. There’s just something about the experience that captures you and I’m not really sure what it is. (Admittedly, I’d do anything to hear Zen’s voice – Jang Kim who has voiced several Korean anime dubs – because it’s such a nice voice, but that’s extremely cliché to say…)
The plots aren’t exactly realistic from the start, but that’s half of the fun. The circumstances are those which can only be found in a video game, but when the ridiculous aspects die down for a bit, you’re simply talking to six attractive people like it’s some sort of slice-of-life dating sim instead.
As someone who hasn’t really understood the appeal of dating sims in the past, Mystic Messenger was certainly something new for me. I can’t really deny that it’s changed my persepctive of dating sims and I’m certainly more inclined to start looking into them a little more. So, out of curiosity, what are your opinions on dating sims? Do you have any recommendations? Leave them in the comments below!
In the meantime, it’s time to see what’s happening in the RFA…