Intro: My heart is a Mystic Mess.
Mystic Messenger is not your everyday otome game. The game, released in 2016 by Cheritz, has a unique mix of humor and dramatic reveals, developing into a very complex but satisfying otome experience, available in both English and its original Korean language. The text-based game play is actually full of a lot of humor and eccentric character interactions. Of course, as with any otome game, you are aiming to build a relationship with one of five characters; but, unlike other otome games, you have to be attentive to relieving disputes and protecting other characters from going down one of many wrong paths as well. Every character has a complex and devastating backstory that will have to constantly checking your phone for new notifications from the Mystic Messenger throughout the day.
As for the story, you mystically receive a message from a stranger that brings you to an empty apartment. There, you are connected to the Mystic Messenger, a custom app used by the RFA, a group of attractive people, who host charity parties, but they haven’t had a party for 2 years now. You agree to help them host a new party and help them find guests. You join in text-based group chats and sometimes get phone calls from the other members. Behind this seemingly innocent story is a maze of mysteries, including how you came to join this group in the first place. With each route, you will be able to possibly save one member and their relationships within the group, leading to a good, normal, or multiple bad endings. With five playable routes, can you save them all?
Who is Vanderwood? Well, it seems you haven’t played 707’s route yet, but that’s okay. Mary Vanderwood belongs to the same intelligence agency as 707, where she acts in a position higher than 707, but appears to have a similar skill set to the hacker in regards to tracking and security infiltration. She often has to check in on 707’s progress on his work and will clean up 707’s messy apartment while checking in, so 707 has taken to calling Vanderwood his “maid.”
The intelligence agency that employs her is no joke. Their clients are known to even kill agents who fail on their assigned missions. We don’t know all the details, but Vanderwood takes these threats very seriously. Although 707 finds Vanderwood to be annoying, if we look closely, we can see that Vanderwood is actually looking out for him. She really is a good person after all. Be it the relentless trolling 707 puts her through, the fact that she will clean up the disaster area that is 707’s apartment, or that she is in such a dangerous profession, we really do wish that Vanderwood could be saved and have her own happily ever after. What made her join the intelligence agency anyway?
Yoosung Kim, who’s name means “meteor” in Korean, is a your everyday normal Korean college student: shy, easy to please, and a little on the M side. Yoosung is also addicted to an online game called LOLOL, leaving him with constant dark circles and little time to actually attend college. A little lost in the world, Yoosung has tried to join countless social clubs at his classes, but he has already given up on his chosen major and hasn’t found he wants to do with his life.
It’s easy to identify with Yoosung, because of our addiction to Myst Mess. In Yoosung’s route, we learn that his addiction to gaming stems from attempting to cope with the death of his cousin, Rika. Yoosung admired and loved Rika. After her death, Yoosung was shocked and fell into depression. Because of all of the unanswered questions about Rika’s life shortly before her death, he still has yet to find closure. Yoosung often confuses you with Rika, and will constantly say how alike you are to her. No matter your age, Yoosung is the younger kouhai (junior) that we want to save from all of his confusion, anger, and depression.
The view we get of Rika is pretty conflicting. She founded the RFA, and most of the members admire her and are thankful to her for bringing them all together. The often-absent V was and is still in love with her. In flashbacks, we see many sides to Rika: from kind and cheerful to paranoid and self-destructive. We have a lot of photos in our album of Rika smiling or otherwise bring joy to one of the member’s lives; however, she is hiding mental anxiety that she desperately tries to hide from the other RFA members. Her paranoia gets the best of her, and she ends up brainwashing an innocent boy and injuring the love of her life. Much like us, we learn that Rika was on a mission to save the RFA members from all of their problems, but became misguided by her own anxieties. If there was a Rika route, we would be all aboard for saving this girl from herself.
7. Jaehee Kang
Jaehee Kang is Jumin Han’s professional assistant, and boy, does Jumin put this girl through hell. Jaehee is a cautious and serious person, and her voice sounds like the announcement voice in the airport. Even though she will voice her aggravations with all the extra work Jumin gives her, she is very dependable and completes every task with competence. Jaehee is the epitome of professional, except when she is fan-girling over Zen and lets a little emotion slip through. Fan-girling with Jaehee is truly a bonding experience.
Despite being a darn good secretary, two long years of overworking is finally starting to take its toll on Jaehee, and you can easy see that the girl is not happy. Maybe all the guys are a little too eccentric for your tastes, or you can empathize with her on having an over-demanding boss. We’re not saying Honey is overly demanding or anything. We’re just saying we can empathize, and we want to save her from her stressful life. Everyone deserves a little rest and relation, after all! Come, Jaehee, into this comforting embrace.
6. Elizabeth 3rd
Elizabeth 3rd is Jumin’s cat, and Jumin treats Elizabeth 3rd like royalty. Although Elizabeth 3rd loves him, Jumin is a little too attentive and overbearing. Jumin becomes excessively paranoid about losing Ellie, so he heartlessly locks her up in a cage. Still, we totally get why Jumin admires this white, fluffy goddess and treats her as his girlfriend. In fact, we also want to have Elizabeth 3rd as our own and give her all the pampering that she deserves. She might not talk, but she has a history with Rika and V, and we can see behind those beautiful blue eyes there is a hidden past that led Rika to give her over to Jumin. If we could, we want to heal Elizabeth 3rd of all her worries and live in cat paradise with her.
Zen is a musical actor who comes on strong from the get-go, and is, inevitably the easiest and perhaps the most cliché route. Unlike many otome games, Zen is actually just a budding actor and has yet to have his big break, but he already has a number of fans, including RFA member Jaehee Kang. Zen is very much a big brother type of character who, even if you don’t choose his route, will give you advice and support you in everything you do. With a voice that melts, Zen is especially kind to all the younger RFA members but easily gets frustrated with Jumin, who reminds him of his family who betrayed him.
Zen earned his heart of gold after running away from home as a teenager to follow his dream. Although Zen tends to be narcissistic and takes way too many selfies (to our delight), he is wary that people only care about his looks. Because of this, he looks at a person’s personality when he chooses to make friends or, if you choose his route, girlfriends. Along Zen’s route, disaster strikes as a spoiled she-devil, name Echo Girl, who has planned to ruin Zen’s career after he rejects her feelings for him. If anything, we want to save him from this Korean drama scenario as fast as possible.
4. Jumin Han
Jumin is a chaebol, or a rich kid, who grew up in wealth and is looking to take over his father’s company in the future. Jumin loves his cat and isn’t very attuned to the life and language of “commoners.” Many times, Jumin is hilariously clueless, but sometimes he will indulge in the other members’ shenanigans. Although Jumin can be a little oblivious to other people’s emotions and difficulties, he tends to look at everything in an objective light and gives a different perspective in nearly all the routes, including his own.
As Jumin doesn’t prioritize romantic relationships and instead prioritizes work and his cat, his taste in women or even if he is interested in women or people in general is all an unknown, until you can partake in his route. Much like Zen, Jumin is worried people are only interested in his money and prefers being around people he can trust, including his lovable cat Elizabeth 3rd. Considering his father has had numerous romantic partners, including notable gold-diggers, Jumin is naturally distrusting of women who wish to date him. He easily slips in and out of being possessive, wanting to control everything in his life, including you and Elizabeth 3rd. We don’t know about you, but we hear Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” in the back of our brains when we play Jumin’s route.
Unknown is shrouded in mystery. He brought you to the RFA and then suddenly he appears as the enemy! Appearing a little unstable, Unknown has a personal vendetta against the RFA, especially for 707. We soon learn that Unknown is actually 707’s twin brother! Otome gods, please just let us go! His real name is Saeran Choi, and because he had poor health as a child, 707 left him behind in order to work as an intelligence agent, earning enough money to guarantee Saeran’s protection. During their time apart, however, Saeran was brainwashed to hate 707. We enter the story with Saeran completely lost in the world, completely controlled by a strange religious cult, and completely in need of our saving! The fact that we can’t play a route with him as our main man just makes the craving that much more fierce. This poor lost boy deserves a good ending!
V is a talented photographer who fell in love with Rika. Together they founded RFA, and V acts as the group’s leader. V is often absent from the messenger for unknown reasons and is even harder to get in contact with. We learn that V has many secrets, including secrets about what caused Rika’s disappearance. In the beginning, most of the members think well of V but throughout all of the routes, the members begin to distrust V and question his motives and leadership.
As the story progresses, we learn more about the mental issues that Rika faced, leading her to injure V’s eyes. Even though this spells the end of his career, V continues to love Rika wholeheartedly. He wants to save Rika and all the other members from her insanity. V endures emotional abuse from Rika and takes on all the other members’ animosity by himself in numerous acts of self-sacrifice. We can only hope and pray for the chance to save this minty-haired, half-blind saint. With any luck, V and Unknown may have routes in the future!
707 is a talented hacker and the de facto head of security for the RFA. He has a cheerful and playful personality and likes to make a lot of silly jokes and mess with the other members. Behind that ever-happy presence, 707 is hiding a lot of secrets and lonliness. As an intelligence agent, 707 keeps a healthy distance between himself and others in the RFA. 707 is worried that anyone close to him can easily become targets of his agency’s enemies. The closer you try to get to 707, the further he will push you away.
Many answers to Myst Mess’s mysteries come out during 707’s route. We learn that 707’s real name is Saeyong Choi. 707 has been gifted with computers from a young age and separated from his twin brother in order to protect him from his dangerous profession. As with most of the routes, you have to soothe his anxieties and keep him from reliving past mistakes. 707 will often fight to keep himself locked up inside and enjoys that he can have a fun personality, even if it is fake. What we want, though, is the real Saeyoung, his regrets, and his imperfections! We want it all!
Conclusion: Now, I want to be more of a Mystic Mess.
Cheritz continues to tease us with hints at updates that may or may not have new routes. We can only hope that some of these characters will soon have routes of their own. For now, you can enjoy a plethora of endings for five of your favorite characters in Mystic Messenger, including unlockable after endings. It truly is a mystical application indeed. Even though many otome games have come before, Mystic Messenger is one-of-a-kind in its execution: intertwining all five routes to reveal a fuller picture of the story. Each route can reveal a new piece of the puzzle while also bringing the backgrounds of all of the characters together. All the while, there is a strange and happy addiction to chatting with these virtual people. Intrigue, mystery, and humor: what more could you want in a mobile game? Let us know! Who or what about Myst Mess captured your heart?