Hi guys, gals, and nonbinary pals! It’s Mod Zan, and I’m here today on GAMER DATE NIGHT to have a chat with you lovely people about one of my favorite dating sims: Mystic Messenger! This game is a pretty popular dating sim made by the company Cheritz, and took the internet by storm when it was first released last summer.
I grew up with a pretty minimal amount of technology, and didn’t get a video game console until I was 15. I had internet access for a while after I turned 13, and so I spent all of my free time playing terrible dating sims that I filched from Newgrounds or some derelict website that hopefully no longer exists for the good of humanity. To this day, I still have a special place in my cold, dead heart for dating sims, so when I found out that Mystic Messenger was a thing, a popular thing, and (most importantly) a FREE thing, I was pretty excited.
So I downloaded the app over winter break while my boyfriend poked fun at me for having such a soft spot for “Anime Boys.” Though this is true, the game has a lot of genuinely great stuff going for it that I’m excited to talk about with you. For this delightful article, I’m going to go through these categories: Gameplay, Value, and Story.
GAMEPLAY: This is a great place to start, because I genuinely believe that Mystic Messenger has some of the strongest gameplay of any dating sim that I’ve played to date, mobile or otherwise. It functions as an actual messenger app, only allowing you to enter chatrooms, text, and receive calls at certain times of the day. If you don’t get there in time, you only get to see a record of the characters talking without you. This feels realistic, and gets you incredibly involved in the game (Possibly a little TOO involved at times…) and creates a really great feeling of immersion as the main character.
There are rarely more than two dialogue options to choose, but I never felt very limited in that because both seemed to fit the story rather well. What you say will affect the ending you get, and the game is very intent on ensuring that you know that what you say and do will have consequences. I never experienced any bugs, and though I had times where I hated having to wait, it created a pretty intense desire to come back to play the game, and thus is a pretty smart move on the part of Cheritz. I have no complaints about the gameplay that doesn’t tie into the value, which I’ll talk about next.
VALUE: Mystic Messenger is a pretty huge app, and it is free to download! This is great, but like all free games, it comes with some fine print that makes a difference for me. You can unlock chats that you’ve missed, make phone calls, and if you’re impatient, unlock all of the chats for the day at once with in-game currency called hourglasses. You are required to collect 80 in order to romance two characters, and having an abundance of them makes things a bit easier on you, especially because you have to build up affection with your chosen character in order to get a good ending, so if you have a bad day and miss a bunch of chats it can ruin the story for you!
Of course, you can purchase as many hourglasses as you wish…for a price. I usually have an issue with microtransactions, but in the case of this game I fall somewhat on the fence. It is easy to collect hourglasses as you play naturally, and as long as you save them for the points where it really counts and get about half of the chats for the day, you can still get a good ending. This feels fair, but as someone fundamentally against microtransactions I can’t let it slide that easily. Overall, I’d say that despite the microtransactions, the game is well worth its salt and gives you enough opportunities to collect things for the necessary story progression and getting a good ending, which brings me to the next part:
STORY: This is where the real fun begins. Mystic Messenger actually has an overarching storyline that you unlock by playing every route (which means romancing every character). There are five people/routes you can play, and the recommended order is this: Zen, Yoosung, Jaehee, Jumin, and 707. I’ve played Zen, Yoosung, and Jaehee as of now, and I loved all of their routes deeply. I’m very excited to play through Jumin and 707, but I think for the purposes of this article I’ve got a firm grasp on how it operates. The story is revealed through the routes that you play, and it feels very organic and appropriate depending on the character you chose.
I do have to note that Jaehee, the only girl, isn’t a real romance route (you get to be “best friends forever.” Fuck you, Cheritz.) But the characters are all GREAT. Usually, in games where I have to do multiple romances, there’s always some routes that feel like I’m slogging through. That’s not the case in this game, because every character has such a unique personality and story that I found myself enjoying each route I’ve played (and for the record, Jumin and 707 are my favorites and I haven’t even played through their routes in their entirety yet!) The story is surprisingly intense, and since Cheritz keeps giving fans updates for holidays and is talking about adding two new routes to the game (nothing confirmed yet), I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed it without spoiling things.
In the end, the game is cute, it’s fun, and at times can be heartbreaking. What more could you ask of a free mobile dating simulator besides that? So please, for your own good, download Mystic Messenger and enjoy the heartbreak and romance with me for your Gamer Date Night!