Review – What Bothered Me in Mystic Messenger

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I would like to start off this review of sorts by saying that, although there were many things that bothered me about this game, I did thoroughly enjoy playing it as well as love the characters from Mystic Messenger. However, as the title may give away, I have a few qualms over some of the topics brought up during the game, and how they were handled. More specifically, the two secret endings are what caused most issue for me, so this review contains many spoilers about these endings, so please be aware before you proceed.

* Note: I will be talking about things pertaining to depression, anxiety, and suicide, so if you are easily triggered or upset by these topics I suggest refraining from reading any further. *

Firstly, one thing that bothered me that isn’t part of the secret endings was when they brought up the topic of Jumin being gay. There were a plethora of different comments, but the general attitude of the characters was that being gay was somehow “weird” and abnormal. While I understand that this game originates from a different country that may still have more closed minded views of the LGBTQ community (not that each country still doesn’t face these issues), I just hoped that Cheritz wouldn’t have used it in a negative way that made being gay seem strange. While it wasn’t a major topic in the game, I wished if they brought it up they would’ve been more open about it, especially being a game that has a female love interest (though you’re technically just “friends”). It can be a tricky and sensitive topic, but seeing the way it was handled I almost wish they had just excluded the “lol Jumin’s gay gross” jokes from the game.

Continuing with a more difficult topic is how they presented mental illness in the game, especially in the secret endings. We find out in these endings that Rika has issues with depression and anxiety. She seems to be getting help from a therapist (though the most we know is that she saw them for three weeks), and that V is very supportive of her even when she expresses self depreciating thoughts. While it may seem touching at first, these illnesses somehow completely twist her mind, which lead her to creating a religious cult and even blinding her fiance, V. Mental illnesses are a very sensitive topic, and the way they dealt with it was, in my opinion, very poorly. Having anxiety and depression do not necessarily make a person become dark and twisted in the mind to the point of abusing others. The usage of these illnesses to “explain” Rika’s actions seem more so offensive to those who deal with these mental issues on a daily basis.

Additionally, we face criticism of mental treatment and medication when Seven takes care of his brother Saeran. Seven refuses to allow the hospital to use medication to help treat him even when his brother is obviously in a very fragile and critical state, after being through so much trauma in his past beginning with his abusive mother up to being drugged and manipulated by Mint Eye. Saeran needs professional help, but Seven decides to “save” him from going to the psych ward because apparently it’s the 1930’s and the hospital is performing lobotomies on their patients. But seriously, mental hospitals are there to help, but the game just made it seem like medication and professional help are bad. “Saeren, they won’t let you escape the psych ward! They want to give you medication and proper treatment so that you can hopefully recover from the many years of abuse and trauma you’ve endured!” Excuse my sarcasm, but seriously, “saving” Saeran from the hospital when he’s in such a state is NOT okay, and the way everything seemed “solved” after Saeran gave Seven the good ol’ attempted murder choke isn’t helping, either.

Lastly, the most upsetting issue was V’s death in the first secret ending. More than that, the treatment of V as a character. V existed the whole game to be doubted and blamed, and the game pushes the player to try and see him as the bad guy. Whether you thought so or not, you learn the truth that he didn’t really do anything wrong, and was a victim of abuse on Rika’s part. He tried to forgive her and still love her, despite her foul actions, and I couldn’t help but feel absolutely awful for V the entire game. His death was the worst part. As you may know, suicide is a very sensitive topic, and the fact that a character who was treated so horribly throughout the whole game killed himself, actually made me sick to my stomach. While your reaction may not have been as intense, I think it’s fair to say that V as a character was treated poorly, and having him commit suicide at the end, after him blaming himself and enduring the issues he had, seems downright cruel.

I understand that the topic of mental illness is touchy for many including myself, and while I do like to separate fantasy from reality, there are just some topics that are really delicate and you have to use quite carefully. Cheritz use of anxiety and depression turning someone into an abusive dictator, as well as having a character who was treated awfully throughout the whole game commit suicide, is just very upsetting and even triggering to a lot of individuals. I know I am not the only one who was in the least a bit urked by this, I just felt that the way they used these topics and these characters just seemed very shallow. Of course mental illness exists, and is more common than people may think. But, with a topic that can be very difficult for many people. I think they used these illnesses poorly and left many players feeling very personally offended or sickened by its portrayal. I could go on for a very long time talking about how much I hated it, but I’m sure that would be ridiculously boring. I hope that those of you who may have felt similarly can relate, and please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions below! (respectfully, of course).  

I would also like to say that if anyone else became very upset over these topics, or it didn’t sit right with them and would like to discuss it, feel free to comment and ask for my skype, discord, whatsapp, etc. if you’d like to talk! To finish things off, after bringing up these topics I think it’s important to put resources out for those struggling with these things! So, if you or anyone you know are having a difficult time, here are a few things that can help !🙂

Suicide Prevention Hotlines

Anxiety & Panic Attack Masterpost

 

170 thoughts on “Review – What Bothered Me in Mystic Messenger

  1. I agree so much with what you’ve posted. Mental illness seems like a joke here, I mean, it’s used as something that drives the story. The conflict is not confusing enough, imagine if Rika doesn’t have any mental illness, then any of this wouldn’t happen. Maybe because I’ve read a lot of novels, I expected a high-rated game to have complicated problems that won’t be solved just by removing one variable, but I feel really disappointed knowing that my expectation is too high for a game like this. Another of my disappointment is, what 707 did to his brother is… irrational. We all know that throughout the story, 707 is the SMARTEST, although not the most logical guy. He should’ve known that you can’t let someone in unstable condition, especially an aggressive one, outside of psychiatrist’s supervision. I’m studying medical, so I know that although mental illness is hard to cure, you shouldn’t take matters into your own hands. Let the experts handle it. The medicines used are not bad, they HELP you, and if your condition becomes more stable, the psychiatrist will lower your dose until you can go on with life without the medicines. And there is “medical confidentiality” too so IMO it’s unnecessary to get so worked up about Saeran identity being leaked out. You just don’t keep someone who tried to strangle you and KILL HIMSELF under the same roof as you. These things BUG ME SOOO MUCH that I actually lose all motivation to play this game again after seeing the secret ending. At first I was so happy when I finally get 707 good ending, I thought “Well even if he’s a bit emotional sometimes, it’s okay because he’s human. As long as he can be rational afterwards, I don’t mind.” But hey, look at him getting *I’m so sorry for writing this, didn’t mean to offend anyone* stupider in each episode of secret ending. It keeps dragging on and on just about “Saeran here Saeran there everywhere Saeran”, even I’m getting tired seeing all that 707 said is “Saeran…” If I may make a suggestion, just watch the secret ending at youtube, IMO it’s not really worth it to buy each of them for 10H (which means you need 140H to unlock all the episodes). I’m sorry if my comment is too long, I feel a lot better after writing all of this. I can’t recommend this game to my friends because it lacks details and… reality. It’s just… the answers to the chats sometimes don’t make sense, and the story is nowhere near realistic. Nonetheless this game is quite fun to play, and I appreciate everything Cheritz has put into this game (because making a game is not as easy as it looks).

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    • I agree 100%. Even if the mental facilities weren’t the best, he could’ve sent saeran elsewhere, at LEAST gotten him outpatient cure. Like you said, he tried to commit suicide and then homicide, you dont just “get over” that. Yes it is fiction but, it is upsetting knowing that Saeran is probably still struggling yet probably won’t get any help because of the negative views of mental health treatment even though there are a lot of options, even if it is sending him somewhere else (like they did with Rika) for treatment.

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  2. what’s also annoying is if you are not female and playing this game and hit the but im not a girl option at the beginning, they are like what?! i’ll call you a girl anyway??? it’s really not that hard to use gender neutral pronouns or just the player’s name but w/e this is a hetero-normative game idk what i was expecting…..

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      • To be fair, there’s nothing that says only women can enjoy dating sim games, or anything that says a dating sim protagonist has to be female regardless of the gender of the player. A dating sim with a MC of ambiguous gender would obviously be ideal, because then anyone can identify themselves with the main character when they play.

        That said, there’s also nothing wrong with games aimed at a particular audience, either; women don’t get enough games aimed toward their consumption, generally. But I don’t think the particular criticism here is wrong, primarily because the game *gives you the option* to say you’re not female – essentially teases the idea of saying you’re male or nonbinary – and then overrides that choice even if you choose it. It’s one thing to expect representation in a medium that caters to a specific audience you’re not really part of, but it’s another matter to complain about a game going out of its way to give you a choice that suggests it’ll let you customize your experience to who you are and then yank it away like a dollar bill on a string. If Cheritz was always going to make you play MM as a girl, why let you deny you’re a girl if they’re going to ignore you selected that? They could have simply not put that option in, rather than toying with the player’s hopes.

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      • sorry for being so behind on replies but 100% this. The games ARE catered for females but having that option there seemed unnecessary and just insulting to players who arent female.

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  3. it’s a game. I understand the whole mental illness thing on a personal level, yes, but… it’s fiction. Yeah, the whole thing with Saeran bothered me, and V was such a ball of candyfloss and the way he was used in the game was awful, but this isn’t real life. I guess I partly agree with you. Some of these situations were extreme, but the worst thing you can do is take it to heart.

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    • It is a game, but again it is something that has closely affected me and the treatment of it was really poor. Having good representation, that of proper care and treatment, accurate mental illness presentation, it may seem dumb but thats how a lot of people learn and see these things. Having these things included, having these things be different, can help many people who suffer from these things (which is much more common than many believe) to be more at ease and hopefully be informative to those who aren’t aware

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  4. First of all, I agree 100% on Cheritz’s portrayal of mental illness. Most of the time, those suffering from mental illness do not pose a threat to others, but mainly themselves. They don’t go out and start cults and hurt others.

    However, I do find I disagree with some of what you said about V and how he ‘really didn’t do anything wrong’. Firstly, as a few others already stated, he did not commit suicide. He did indeed die when shot by Saeran. The others lied about V’s death to cover for Saeran. I admit it could be confusing with the fact Zen and Yoosung were saying he’d killed himself, but they were in the dark as well.

    As for whether or not V had done anything wrong, that’s a matter of opionion and I happen to believe he had committed grievous errors throughout the entire game. Sure he loved Rika, but his love was bordering on obsession from what I saw. Him telling her he would commit the crimes for her so that she could keep her hands clean, for one, showed that he was willing to do anything for her. He knew through their talks that she stopped going to therapy and that she had delusional ideas about creating a world so far outside the realm of reality that there could be no doubt V knew she truly needed help she was refusing. Even after she blinded him, V failed to get her the help she needed, choosing instead cover for her by lying to everyone, saying she committed suicide. He wasn’t doing Rika any good by doing this. What he did was in fact allow her the chance to harm others when he let her go.

    Even after V found out Rika had taken Saeran and used him in hurtful ways, V still did nothing to inform authorities, not did he inform Seven of Saeran’s brainwashing and abuse. This.. THIS is what I cannot forgive. Seven trusted V and Rika to help his brother. He put Saeran’s life in their hands and V let Rika hurt him beyond imaginable ways. And what was V’s excuse for not telling Seven? He knew how much he cared about his brother and didn’t want to hurt Seven by telling him. What complete BS! He was covering for Rika even then, trying to find a way to get Saeran away. He had no intention of ever telling Seven. Even when Seven saw Saeran with his own eyes and tried to talk to V about it, V still tried to cover it up and pretend he knew nothing. So I’m sorry. Don’t tell me V did nothing wrong. He did so many things wrong, mainly to protect Rika.

    And I still believe V had a touch of mental illness himself. What mentally sound person would not get their loved one help they need and go so far as to allow that person to physically harm them, even encouraging it? I’m my eyes, V was far from innocent in all this. He was an enabler and in some ways an accomplice to Rika’s crimes. I don’t know about laws in Korea, but here, if you know a crime is being committed and you fail to report it (or in V’s case, also cover it up), you can be tried as an accomplice.

    Do I think V was used as a fall guy the entire game? Sure. But that was his own doing. He wanted to be blamed. He was covering for Rika the entire time.

    Another thing that irked me was the bomb. What the actual hell? Rika, V and Seven all get the blame for that piece of work. Jumin said it best when he called to light everything I’d said the second I found out about the bomb: a bomb in an apartment isn’t going to take out the documents and an intruder alone. There would be dozens of casualties. For someone who claims to want to help people and promotes love and a pain free world, that was as far her goal as possible.

    Do I think V deserved to die? No. In fact, I’d have been happier to have seen both V and Rika behind bars for what they’d done (Rika in a place where she could get the help she truly needs). The entire ending was so far off for me, it left me more angry then anything. Because when all was said and done, Rika got away with her crimes and probably will never get help (you can’t tell me that place in Alaska will hold her help her given that last scene with Yoosung), V died needlessly leading to a cover-up and yet more lies within the RFA, Seven took on his brother’s rehabilitation which will likely end in failure since he has no training, and the RFA members are now a bunch of hypocrites as they each lied/hid things from other members-doing what they’d all chastised V for doing in the first place. The end.

    Again, this is only my opionion. But I honestly don’t believe V was innocent. I just don’t.

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    • couldn’t have said it better (although i disagree with the part where you say V may have had a mental illness himself because he protected Rika. mentally ill people don’t have the monopoly on irrationality)

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    • I agree with what you said about V, and this is coming from someone whose favorite character in the game IS V. He was not innocent and “enabler” was a good word for him. We see a lot of those in real life. His actions and words, further twisted Rika. Which makes me wonder about his own past and what had given him such an outlook on love.

      I also agree about RFA being covered in so much more lies than necessary. That is why I find Secret 02 a little hard to accept. Being a student in the medical field, I know that hospitals, facilities, psych wards are there to help, and YES there are confidentiality policies that protect the identity of the patient.

      I find it hard to believe that the RFA would continue to exist in the future. The current situation they have just does not seem like it will foster good relationships. All Seven thinks about is protecting Saeran, in his own way, that he even hinders Jumin and Jaehee’s investigation. And add that Zen and Yoosung hid away Rika to protect her, granted they were kept in the dark, but considering Yoosung’s own circumstances, I have this tiny little hunch he would still try to hide her if he had known what happened.

      What frustrates me the most is how because secret endings happen with seven x mc as a canon, we just sit there as the MC and take all this, even when we know it is wrong. Like, what happened to being in a relationship and being able to tell your significant other what you think about the situation, offering healthy advice, and whatnot?

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      • The secret endings were frustrating and very far from satisfying which I 100% agree with.

        As for V, no he definitely isn’t completely innocent. He could have done things differently. But you also have to ask, can you completely blame him? Again, V was trying to help Rika even with little to no knowe\ledge on mental illness. To me at least, while reporting what she had done is what SHOULD have happened, but at this point remember that V was a victim of Rika’s abuse, both emotional AND physical. Its important to note many things about how abuse victims feel, scared, forced to believe their abusers are right, etc. I wont go into it because im not the most knowledgable on the subject but I don’t think its fair to say V is trying to encourage her crimes. He didnt like them, but became a victim to them as well. So no, he is not innocent. But put yourself in his shoes, what he endured. It isn’t as simple as he is/isn’t innocent.

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  5. I just prefer to think Rika had a much deeper issue that went undiagnosed because she was so insistent on hiding her illness from everyone, and that V not establishing consequences for her didn’t help … but I wouldn’t be surprised if Cheritz held those values about people with depression and anxiety. I’m Korean and there are a lot of stigmas behind mental illnesses especially in Korean culture, since it’s so competitive.

    Though I’ll be completely honest. I don’t object to 707 kidnapping Saeran to prevent him from going to a psych ward. I don’t know how psych wards are in Korea, but I’ve been to one in the US and it was hell. I was only there for 4 days but honestly I would’ve rather died lol

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    • psych wards are.. not fun. no one really likes them, so i dont blame them. but even if it isnt fun sometimes its a matter of, will it HELP. is saeran in a state where he can be trusted to not harm himself and others? Which was probably not. We didn’t even get a glimpse of any sort of outpatient treatment after either, which was upsetting most of all to me because the boy obviously has many issues that he needs to get some sort of help for

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  6. To be fair to V, V may not have been mentally ill; it may have been a result of Rika being subtly manipulative and abusive, and that slowly getting worse over time – which is to say that Rika may have led him to being codependent through her abuse of him. A lot of abuse victims love and even cover for their abusers before they’re ready or able to break free of them. We never hear anything from V or Jumin about V’s having any serious issues before meeting Rika, and indeed he seemed pretty normal in their first conversation, so there’s a pretty good chance that the changes in him were caused by Rika.

    That doesn’t justify V’s actions at all, certainly, but it puts the ball of blame more in Rika’s court because that would make his actions symptoms of abuse that Rika inflicted on him.

    V is innocent to the same degree Saeran is innocent. They both did horrible things with terrible consequences that can’t just be waved away, but both of them had their minds warped by Rika and weren’t making what anyone could call informed, rational decisions. The only real difference with V is that no drugs were involved. And, in both cases, most of the blame should rest on the catalyst and not the instrument.

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  7. One thing I found really disturbing about the game is how possessive the characters act toward the player. You’ve known these “people” for FIVE DAYS and Zen wants you to move in with him, Yoosung is conflating you with Rika, and Jumin literally won’t let you leave his apartment and watches you sleep. I was so creeped out by Jumin. >.< I think there is something wrong with all these characters. Their behavior towards the player borders on abusive and it seems to me that they could all benefit from some kind of therapy. But as another commenter said, maybe that's a normal/stereotypical representation of people with mental disabilities in Korea. ???

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    • Actually, this is a really common problem in almost all otome games, largely brought about by the fact that time parallels in otomes are hard to manage. Otome makers have several options:

      1) Make routes that take realistic months/years to develop both in terms of the time passing in-game AND the time passing for the player in the real world, with new content every day to keep players interested. (No one does this, it would be way too much work and expense for what are usually fairly casual games and, frankly, it’d be too hard to get players invested enough from the outset to stick it out through such a slow burn.)

      2) Make routes that take much more time for the player to play than is actually passing in the game world. (Most otomes do this.)

      3) Make routes that have a lot more time passing in the game world than the real one. (This doesn’t solve any problems, because it would mean glossing over huge swathes of time and development between the characters and relegate a lot of the romance to happening offscreen, with the player only being able to infer relationship development rather than being shown it or able to experience it. The only positive would be that it might feel like a more realistic relationship progression. I don’t see many otomes do this.)

      4) Make routes that have the same amount of time passing in the game world as the real one. (Mystic Messenger does this, and frankly it’s the only otome I’ve ever played that plays in real time. It’s very weird and took some adjusting to.)

      As you’ve noticed, both options 2 and 4 result in what feels like a VERY fast and unrealistic relationship progression, because it doesn’t reflect normal real world relationship progression but instead a very accelerated development of a romantic relationship. A lot of it, as I said, is due to practical concerns about otome game design. I’m sure there’s some secondary considerations about appealing to people’s desire for intense whirlwind romances as well. If you’re not accustomed to the way otome games are set up, the pacing is going to feel intensely unnatural to you – but when you consider the other, worse game design options that are available, you realize that you have to give some consideration to the medium. (This is also why a lot of issues and personality problems are wrapped up so quickly; it’s not just the pace of the romance that’s affected.)

      That said, you’re right about Jumin being way too possessive and creepy as a result; that has nothing to do with pacing. His saving grace is that he seems aware that he’s being unreasonable, but he begs for your understanding and forgiveness while he works out those issues. His behavior wasn’t justifiable, but I think it was at least respectful enough of the player – and wrapped up in valid concerns for your physical safety – that he can be given something of a pass on it. In my case, I was actually more creeped out by his putting the player on a pedestal and treating her as some perfect, flawless being, being so utterly devoted to you it bordered on alarming codependence. And unlike the locking you up and being possessive – which EVERYONE in-game, Jumin included, recognizes as a problem that needs addressing – he never gets called out on THAT particular unhealthy behavior, and as far as we know it continues indefinitely. That honestly bothered me even more than the player being locked up because none of the characters or, perhaps, the developers, realized it was obsessive and wrong.

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    • ‘Publicly having an opinion that is different from your own’ isn’t actually a big fuss, unless you don’t think people should express opinions that fail to align with yours.

      That said – media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Reinforcing troubling themes and unpleasant stereotypes in media reinforces them, which makes it harder to get rid of them or the damage they do. People with depression, for example, have a hard time being understood or respected as it is, and those without depression often can’t understand it all. Rika is stated as having depression in the game as an excuse for her doing incredibly illogical and unethical things, behavior that has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with depression and can’t remotely be explained by it. But players perceiving her actions as being rooted in her depression, who don’t know much about it already, will come away with a *very* skewed idea of it as a mental illness, and it’s likely to color their perceptions of – and reactions to – people with depression in the real world. So calling out misinformation or blatantly false and offensive portrayals of things in media is important, because media has a lot of impact in shaping people’s views on things. As such, all forms of media need to keep that responsibility in mind.

      The ability to not care about these issues isn’t universal. It’s a privilege. People who are personally affected by these issues HAVE to care about them, and empathetic people who don’t want others to suffer because of these kinds of things may choose to care even if they’re not personally affected. Only people who aren’t affected and don’t care about the people who are wave this sort of thing away.

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  8. To be honest, this game is really far away from reality, especially the fact that you only need 5 days to start a relationship with another person, WHICH you haven’t even meet in real life yet. Another thing, as one commentor said, some of the characters have over-the-top personalities(*ehem* Jumin *ehem*), which is kinda a turn off(but most otome games have lots of this anyway).

    I agree with your content, except the passage, “V didn’t do anything wrong”. He clearly is suffering from obsessive love towards Rika(because no one in their right mind would let themselves be blinded then just let that person go free and do what she wants because he love her). Just from Yoosung’s route, I am already in doubt that V is a good person. And boy, I am correct, when I reached the secret endings. V did not stop Rika, even if he knows that what she is doing is wrong. He even let her do what she wants, from drugging Saeran, to creating a large group (Mint eye), just to defeat RFA. This made me deduce that the secret endings are quite poorly written especially on how Seven tackles Saeran’s physiological state. If Seven really love his brother, he should have refer him to a proper psychiatrist, get him treated and support him properly. But he decided to just do it himself because he’s scared that the hospital will know who Saeran is. This is what made me dislike(sorry for the fangirls) Seven. The person who I thought is the most rational is actually stupid as F.

    In the end, what made me dislike the after endings, is the fact that V dies and the charges are put into him, while Rika is alive. Both of them should have suffered in jail and have a psychiatrist heal them. Another thing that I disliked, is how the members started to lie to each other. Zen and Yoosung believe that V killed himself, while Jumin, Jahee, Seven and MC are the only one who knew the truth. I thought that the RFA are family so why can’t they just tell the truth to the two other members? Seriously, the game turned into a worst state when the after endings happen.

    Anyway, I won’t recommend this to anyone who gets sensitive and emotionally triggered easily and to those who are suffering from depression and anxiety ’cause it will just worsen their state as a whole.

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  9. It is quite possible that a large percentage of these characters are undiagnosed, and perhaps even in active denial that they have problems that perhaps could be solved with some measure of counseling. I am certainly no expert, but I believe that we should remain aware that we are hearing what the characters are saying, and not necessarily Cheritz’ opinion on these sensitive matters. The characters in this story are not omniscient, and neither are we. All we can do is guess, based on behaviors, what is going on with these characters, who live in an environment that is unfamiliar to some of us.

    I apologize if I am out of line here, I really would prefer to think positively about this group, as they do seem to have wanted to make a good game for the viewers to enjoy…

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  10. I’ll try not to dwell too much on things that have already been touched, such as V’s lack of innocence, but these are just a few of my thoughts on what you said.
    Firstly, one does not go into otome games, or most games with a complete sense of rationality. The characters are based off over the top stereotypes, the story is made to be as interesting as possible and as a self-inset avater, you’re not given much choice but to roll with it. The 11 day romance is a rather objective issue. Because I personally developed feelings for the characters, it didn’t quite bother me even though I believe in slow relationships, but a game that tries to be unique by running on real-time can’t make a 1 year or just several months relationship for just one route, as it can make it easy for people to lose intersest.
    In regards to Rika’s mental instability, while it certainly was over the top portrayal that is unlikely to enter the realms of reality, I don’t think it was ENTIRELY innacurate. As someone that has suffered from anxiety issues, depression and a bit of paranoia myself, the dark thoughts that run in peoples heads can go anywhere, whether to harm yourself or other people. It’s rather easy to set an emotionally fragile person off and humans have the most unpredictable things running through their heads. It should also be noted that there are quite a few criminals in reality who tend to harm others and do absurd things when they are losing it. Rika probably had her issues since child hood,,they had gotten worse with the years and she hadn’t gotten proper help for them. which I believe turned it from just ‘anxiety issues’ to insanity. Even if they had arrested her, she could have gotten out of her charges by pleading insane and the end result would just be her going to psychiatrist, which I want to believe she did in unseen parts of the story. V’s death served to shock reality into her, I wish they had found a way to fix her issues without killing him, but he DID have crimes to pay for, Cheritz unfortunately chose the death retribution route instead of prison..
    Saeren’s case however..is not so easy to defend. Seayoung works on emotions in regards to his brother so, it doesn’t surprise me he would do something as dumb as breaking him out of the hospital. Most people can’t stand being locked up however, and Saeren is someone who has been locked up most of his life. I don’t know how, but I wished there was a way he could get help without having to be locked up, and he’s had enough drugs pumped into his system, adding anti-sepressent is not a result I want to see.
    As for the general ending…I admit that the game contradicts it’s own message, which is discussing your problems, with the only difference being that now more than one person has the burden to share (which I guess is a bit better than when V was the only one who knew). However there is a slight hint of realism. Sad things are not something anyone like talking about, as even in day to day conversations, people usually talk about trivial things and aren’t rather open with their anxiety. Not telling Yoosung the truth was something I could not judge since he idolized Rika and would go into deeper denial than he already did (I don’t know why they didn’t tell Zen though). I want to believe that the Mint-eye incident is something they will eventually talk about so as to heal out of their wounds, but the game has ended, so what happens after is based of your understanding of the characters and general hopes
    The gay thing is not for me to judge, not all countries are open to LGBT, mine inclusive, and to be honest, even in a country where it is open any sudden announcement of a person of high social status being gay will lead to a scandal (referring to the issue in Zen’s route).
    I accept the flaws of the game and cheritz is famous for making the true endings twisted, but my general enjoyment of the game made it difficult for me not to say anything in regards to your points. But then again, this is just my opinion and the blog is yours.

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    • After reviewing what I wrote, I’d like to alter some things since I can’t edit.
      1. I still believe that Rika’s case had escalated from simple depression, but I wish there had been confirmation of her getting long term treatment. As for her hypocritical personality in Mint eye, that’s basically all Religious extremist leaders so it doesn’t really bother me.
      2. I looked through some older comments to get their view on the Saeren thing, and I have to admit, with all the mental stress it should have taken at least half a year for him to be stable enough to leave the hospital. Depression isn’t really common in country, especially if you were born and raised here, but like I said before, I’ve had slight mental problems so I studied a bit of the procedure even though I suddenly recovered before I could go for therapy. Maybe if Saeren hadn’t had drugs pumped into his system and childhood drama to boot it would have been more believable.
      3. I replayed the secret ending and I understand better why they kept the affair secret, but the message contradiction will forever bug me.

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  11. Hi all. I’m just new to the game. I just finished my first ending and it was a bad ending. And the little events brought to light sort of surprised me. To be honest, I played this coz I thought it was light, etc. but it wasn’t. Not that it’s bad, it is actually good since it isn’t one of those ordinary games with cute guys.

    What I’m trying to say is, I may not like spoilers sometimes but there are cases I wanna know the plot. So I’ve read some and I’d like to ask help if you guys can clear to me…. is Rika an antagonist? Coz I read he took Saeran to Mint Eye and there he was fed with drugs but then Seven was brought by “Rika” and V to RFA? I’m confused.

    I went back to 1st day and now I’m so scared of experiencing something brutal like Yoosung losing an eye, etc. I’ve talked a lot I’m so sorry hahaha I just feel confused.

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    • I will try to avoid spoilers while still answering your questions.

      1) Rika is female, and was V’s lover/fiancee. She originally founded the RFA with V’s help, and supposedly committed suicide one and a half years ago under suspicious circumstances in that there was no proof of what happened to her, and only V’s testimony as to her suicide. Yoosung in particular is highly suspicious of this. Her role in the story is a lot bigger than you’re initially led to believe, but you really only hear much about her – and whether or not she’s an antagonist – on Seven’s route in Deep Mode. (Without spoilers, the best I can tell you about whether or not she’s an antagonist in canon is ‘it’s complicated’. Players may have very differing opinions of her behavior. I, personally, hate her.)

      2) Saeran and Seven (aka Saeyoung) are different people, and Rika did very different things with them.

      3) Even the best endings of some routes can be dark, regardless of your doing everything right. Yoosung’s is one of them, and you might want to avoid it if that’s too brutal for you. The secret endings you unlock after beating Seven’s route are *extremely* dark, but they also explain the full story behind the game that you only catch glimpses of in the other routes. Most bad endings that aren’t simply ‘you didn’t earn enough affection to proceed further’ are dark. If you only want light and fluffy things – which is perfectly valid – I recommend looking up a walkthrough to get the right answers for emails and chats so you can get the best endings, and possibly avoiding Yoosung’s route entirely. (The secret endings are completely optional and in fact cost hourglasses, so those are easily avoided if you don’t want them.)

      That said, most of the good endings are relatively safe in terms of enforced brutality. The only one of the best endings I’ve seen (and I’ve seen all but Jaehee’s; I’m still finishing her route) that has enforced an unavoidably dark theme in the ending itself – not counting the after endings – is Yoosung’s. Also, as you clearly have already heard about his eye, I can perhaps mitigate some of the horror of it by telling you he doesn’t lose the eye, he loses *sight* in one eye. Not as gory and horrific as the idea of him losing an eye outright is. And his after ending does address that in a way that makes it a happier ending. Most of the after endings wrap things up pleasantly as well, with only Seven’s after ending and his related secret endings venturing into dark territory. (But when they do, they’re undeniably the darkest parts of the game.)

      So, again – if you want a relaxed, more traditionally happy otome experience, use a guide and get the good endings, and you can decide whether Yoosung’s route, the bad endings, or the secret endings are worth it for you to experience.

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      • THANK YOU SO MUCH CALLIE!

        Yoosung is so hard not to love and I think it is so easy to take his route coz he is so lovable. I’ve read blogs and most of them gave a sequence on whose route to take (with Yoosung being the second). Did you do the same?

        So all of them have good endings right? I’d love to get Seven’s🙂 and is it possible to take Jumin’s love away from Elly to me? hahaha

        Have fun playing and thank you so much!

        Like

      • No problem!

        In terms of routes, I definitely took a very weird and not ideal order, but that’s partly because spoilers don’t bother me and, in fact, I seek them out; I had no reason to go through the routes in any special order because I’d checked the wiki pages and already had a rough idea of what was going to happen. (Also, I bought hourglasses with real money so I didn’t have to save up the free-to-play way to unlock Deep Mode.) My order was Zen -> Jumin -> Seven -> Yoosung -> Jaehee, with today being my last day of Jaehee’s route. I did want to save Seven until last, even having spoiled myself, because I thought he’d be the most fulfilling route…but after having had to favor Jumin over my memelord baby so much in Jumin’s route, I couldn’t bear to wait any longer and had to do Seven next. If I had to suggest an order for others, I’d go Yoosung -> Zen -> Jaehee -> Jumin -> Seven. (Technically, there’s no pressing reason to do the first three Casual Mode routes in any certain order, or at least not enough of one that I’d argue you should strictly adhere to even against your personal preferences. My order for them is roughly based on an ascending order of route quality, where I think Zen’s route is better than Yoosung’s and Jaehee’s is better than Zen’s. That’s entirely subjective on my part.

        …well, mostly subjective. Jaehee’s route is adorable and I’ll fight anyone who argues.)

        I do recommend leaving Deep Mode, aka Jumin and Seven, for last. Not just because people playing for free may have enough hourglasses stored by then to unlock it, but because if you like Seven at all, playing Jumin’s route will make it very hard for you NOT to want to do Seven’s route immediately afterward, like I did. And Seven’s route is definitely the most involved in the game and gets into the heart of the plot that the other routes only allude to, so it should definitely come last if you care about sequence at all.

        They all have good endings in that you do wind up in a happy, committed relationship with your bachelor of choice(or, re: Jaehee, in a ~very deep friendship~ where any romantic developments, if they happen at all, are vaguely implied to be something that might transpire in the future). Beyond that, though, details and circumstances differ, and there can be dark or depressing aspects involved in the endings – especially Seven’s. They all end on a positive note, but Seven’s in particular is not devoid of sad and/or upsetting aspects as well. (Aspects that, as several people – myself included – may not feel were handled well or made a whole lot of sense.) That said, I still recommend getting Seven’s full ending to at least find out the full plot behind the game.

        re: Jumin and Elly, yes, his route definitely involves him re-adjusting his priorities.

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  12. I agree with most of your comments except that V comitted suicide. As I remember it/interpreted it, Searan had the gun and fired it. I got the impression V was saving Rika more than actually comitting suicide. I thought when they said he did so in the game it was to protect Searan. But as a whole I was left very unhappy with the secret endings. Apparently one of Jumin’s bad endings was a bit “R” rated as well according to my daughter. Otherwise, it’s a fun and addictive game.

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    • Yeah V’s death was framed as suicide to protect Saeran from being investigated. Otherwise he would have to face charges against him. I guess it couldve been second degree murder… Since he had no intention to kill V. Hmm anyway, hope they make Saeran route for fun though lol it would be interesting.

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  13. Callie,

    I can’t reply on the trail anymore. i don’t see the reply option. Anyway, thank you again for the details🙂 Hugs for you!! And oh I have the same plan in choosing routes too. I’m in Zen route now and I’m going straight to Jumin (I can’t hold it anymore) and Seven. I’m fine with spoilers. I’ve seen some convos with Jumin on Youtube and oh my gosh callie, I just want to finish Zen’s route FAST. hahaha

    Have a great day (or night)!

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  14. Im not sure how some contents were translated in English since I played this game in Korean, there could be some issues with the mistranslation or misuse of terms in English version.
    In regards to the “gay” issue, I completely agree with you. Unlike western culture, sadly majority of Koreans still view homosexuality as “abnormal” or “weird” and many consider it as unnatural sexual preferences. This is why LGBTQ community in Korea is not as active as in Western culture because of the stigmatization and scapegoating from the public. Although there have been little progress in human rights movements but theres still LONG way to go for Korea in regards to openly accepting LGBTQ community. It is unfortunate but hopefully with your input, Cheritz would become more aware of the problem. I, too felt uncomfortable with how they project negativity towards homosexuality.
    In regards to V’s death – in Korean version, Saeran is the one who actually kills V after being rejected by Rika. In Korean version, Saeran demands Rika to eliminate Saeyoung as she previously promised to Saeran. But Rika, thinking that Saeyoung’s hacking skills can be useful to the cult, orders to take Saeyoung into the cult. Saeran shoot Rika out of anguish and V takes the bullet to protect Rika. So I domt know why Cheritz decided to have V to commit suicide in Eng version.. But for Korean version, V does not kill himself but protects his beloved Rika🙂. Thats why Rika develops aphasia out of shock.
    In regards to Rika’s mental problems – in Korean version, they repeatedly used the term “persecutory delusional disorder’ along with anxiety and depression. Im not sure what was being said in English version but in Korean version, Rika originally suffered from mood disorder before she met V. Rika spent her childhood under abusive parents who lacked loving nature. When Rika got older, she began to see a ‘counsellor’. After she met V, she got alittle better from her symptoms but after she lost her dog she began to develop paranoia which further developed into delusional state. According to V, Rika felt guilty for not giving a cataract surgery to her blinding dog early on, which led her dog to die from the car accident. So the game explains how Rika’s twisted perception of world due to delusional disorder led her to believe that only she can create a new world where there is no pain, sadness, but only eternal trust and happiness exist. With her mental illness, Rika becomes more paranoid with V that he will betray her at some point. Although V tried to convince Rika that he still loves her, Rika ends up blinding him to test his words.
    For psych ward being portrayed in the game, I think the game developer lacked knowledge in how psych ward is operated… From what I know, as long as you are not a threat to yourself and others, and also that you dont have any criminal charges or court order, i dont think they permanently lock people in the ward.. But there were many cases where the patient’s family refuse to take back the patient so some patients have no choice but to remain at the ward…but ofc, if the patient is mentally alert and is capable of functioning on his own, he can refuse to be treated even if he can benefit from it though. You actually need court order to force treatments to the refusing patient or the patient has to be suicidal and dangerous to the public. And yes Saeyoing shouldve let Saeran receive treatments but I guess the game wanted show brothers regaining trust in one another, resolving hatred and misunderstanding by having Saeyoung “rescuing” Saeran from the admission. (+Considering how Saeran killed V in the game, legally speaking, Saeran would be placed in the ward even if he does not want to receive treatments… Otherwise he would be sentenced to be in jail.. There are some loopholes in the game esp from the legal aspects..How Jumin got rid of evidences, how Zen smuggled Rika out of the country even after her criminal activities, and how Saeran avoids investigation ans stuff.. Oh welp Jumin’s money works wonder anyway. )
    Welp this is long but hope it explains some of the issues.

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    • This is fascinating, and I’m glad you shared your experiences playing the Korean version!

      OP did indeed make a mistake in their post; in both the English and Korean versions, it’s Saeran who kills V, and the story of him committing suicide is just the cover story Jumin, Jaehee, and Seven (and the MC) come up with for Zen and Yoosung. Multiple people have corrected them, but I wish they’d edit their original post to reflect this. As far as I know, on no route does V kill himself, nor is his being dead even a confirmed fact in any route other than Seven’s. (Unless, I suppose, one interprets V as having taking the bullet for Rika, and thus considers that suicide? But my impression, playing the English version of the game, was that Saeran was always aiming for V, using him for a scapegoat in turning Saeran’s ‘savior’ against him and making everything complicated with his existence. Does the Korean version make it explicitly clear that Saeran was aiming for Rika and that V intervened, or is it up to interpretation who the bullet was actually meant for?)

      I wish they actually referred to ‘persecutory delusional disorder’ in the English version; that seems to be a severe mental illness that could dramatically affect someone’s perception of the world and their behavior, which very much fits Rika. However, in the English version, the disorder is never mentioned. Instead, it’s translated into ‘depression and anxiety’ – both very common mental health issues that decrease a person’s quality of life, but do not REMOTELY explain the behavior of someone blinding their fiance and becoming the head of a brainwashing cult. The Korean version clearly explains Rika’s condition much more accurately and with respect to what sort of mental illness could lead to such behavior, while the English translation casts the blame on mental illnesses that by and large only harm the person suffering from them, and as a result unfairly casts people with anxiety and depression as being in the same category as someone dangerously delusional. (That said – I’m sure Rika did have depression and anxiety herself. But clearly what caused her unstable behavior was the persecutory delusional disorder, with the depression and anxiety having other causes – depression could undoubtedly be caused by Sally’s death, for instance, and if she felt delusional and persecuted then obviously anxiety would result from that paranoia. But those are unrelated to, or caused by, her pre-existing condition, and it was the persecutory delusional disorder that actually led her to her actions in Mint Eye.)

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      • oh thanks for pointing out whom Saeran was aiming at. I watched the episodes again just now and yeah Saeran did aim at V not at Rika.🙂 There was a part where Saeran talks about how “savior” has changed since V’s in the cult and how he blames V for his downfall. After this, he shot V not Rika, so I assume that V was aimed in the first place. For some reason I always thought Saeran aimed at Rika (maybe I subconsciously wanted her punished for ruining people’s lives..ahem)…Yes you are right. Saeran did use V as a scapegoat.

        Aside from what was told by V in the game, I cant help but to think that Rika could have borderline personality traits based on her fear of abandonment and betrayal, her sense of emptiness, and especially her sense of grandiosity (when she talks about how she can be the one to lead people into happiness before she forms the cult).
        I agree with you that depression and anxiety alone do not always lead to extreme condition like a delusional disorder. Like you said, I agree that Sally’s death triggered this whole delusional madness.😦 I think there’s a possibility that Sally’s death exacerbated Rika’s pre-existing negative personality traits, leading to paranoia and delusion. Ofc there could be other cues that I was not aware of.. But for sure, I agree that depression alone is not enough to elicit all those delusional roller coaster ride. Like you said, Chertiz should’ve added the same term (PDD) in Eng version as well to avoid creating loop holes.

        Anyway, it is interesting how everyone here is analyzing, looking deeper into the themes and contents of this game. Im glad I came across this blog/site🙂

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  15. I agree with some of this but not all of it. Firstly, V didn’t commit suicide, Saeran was freaking out and had a gun and tried to shoot Rika, V jumped in the way to save her and died. Second, Saeyoung refused to give Saeran meds because he had been drugged before and he didn’t want to put him through that again. He also wouldn’t let him go to an insane asylum because he knew Saeran had trust issues and sending him there to be drugged and confined would only make things worse. I agree about V though, he deserved better.

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  16. Mystic Messenger is pretty much everything that is wrong with Japanese/Korean media for girls. This kind of stuff is criticized in shojo manga by most people so why is it okay here? The game’s plot is literally you being threatened into doing their scam “charity” work. Why is there no ending where your character has taken the whole case to court and Seven is thrown into jail where he belongs? Why are there people saying how much they love this guy?

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    • …did we even play the same game? I don’t recall Seven ever seriously threatening the PC with anything beyond kicking her out of/blocking her from the chat room if the background check revealed anything shady about her. And you can argue the legality of that, but 1) Seven is already a hacker who does questionably legal things, although the game gives no evidence his actions personally ever go beyond Chaotic Neutral, and 2) given that the PC somehow gets patched into a private chat room by another hacker, and the RFA have been targeted by malicious hackers before, they have every reason to investigate you as a potential threat to their private security. (And, as it turns out the PC was introduced to them BY the same malicious hackers responsible for past events, they were right to be cautious; it just happens that the people responsible used someone totally unaffiliated to them.) And even when Seven threatens to deny the PC access to the chat room, it’s clear he doesn’t really want to but would do so under V’s orders. V’s orders, and defending the security of the other RFA members, are what guide Seven’s actions, so I’m not sure why you’re singling out Seven for hate.

      Unless you’re taking some of Seven’s jokes, or his *actively warning the PC to stay away from him because his work is dangerous enough to potentially put her in harm’s way as a bystander*, as some kind of legitimate threat to the PC…I don’t know where you’re coming from. Unless he has a couple lines of serious threat somewhere that I’ve somehow forgotten, but in that case you’re basing your argument against the entirety of the character against a couple lines so throwaway that I don’t even recall them.

      Also, there’s no scam involved in the RFA’s charity work…? Nowhere in the game is it indicated their fundraising goes to anything other than actually helping people. And the PC is given the choice of whether or not to help by the actual RFA members, although of course for the game’s purposes you’re not actually given the option to refuse as a player because then there would be…no actual game. All of this ignoring, of course, that the RFA wasn’t responsible for the PC’s introduction into their midst in the first place, so if you want to hate any character for orchestrating what happened to the PC, it can’t and shouldn’t be characters who simply reacted to what another outside group was doing with malicious intent. The RFA had no hand in the PC’s suddenly being thrown at them, and thus had no designs on her. Have you even played the game enough to know who actually DID threaten the PC, and who set all the events in motion…? The people who V and Seven (correctly) feared might do something bad to them, the PC, or both if they just ignored the circumstances of her arrival and sent her on her merry way?

      Like, I’m not saying otome logic isn’t ridiculous and occasionally demands you allow serious suspensions of disbelief, because it does. Nor am I saying everyone has to like Mystic Messenger, or Seven in particular. But wow, what is your damage? Your argument makes no sense to me at all, as someone who’s played the game pretty thoroughly, unless it’s based on serious misinterpretation or some kind of grudge. Or possibly trolling. You’re going to need to provide a lot more evidence and thought behind the premise of ‘Seven specifically should go to jail for threatening the PC’ than you have for anyone to take you seriously. It honestly sounds like you read one badly written wiki page on the game’s events and formed your opinions from that, at best.

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  17. I feel the same, a lot of people tell me the “oh it’s just a game lighten up” excuse. If you’ve went through any trama or have metal illness, sadly some things are triggering and it’s hard to ignore or let go…especially considering I lost my twin to suicide… Hence why 707’s and V’s stories hurt my heart for a while.

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    • ah im sorry😦 dealing with mental illness and similar situations really can take a toll, and when its a big part of your life and can cause so much hardship and grief some people don’t understand that you cant just shrug it off when its something that closely affects you

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  18. This is a Korean visual novel, or what is considered an otome game. I don’t understand why people would expect any better from this game than what it is, you get to date hot guys and that’s bout it.

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  19. I just finished the endings and was left as well with quite a bitter sweet feeling. Specially about Saeyoung´s attitude towards his brother´s illness that for me has no justification whatsover.
    I got a question about the end, If i did not misunderstood actually searan was the one holding the gun and the one who shot V, all because he was convinced that V has ruined his “ticket to paradise” or whatever he was promised by Rika, wasn´t he?.

    Anyway, now talking about Rika, I did feel a bit weird abut her situation, but as a Psychology Student I started thinking about it and actually from my view, Rika did not only had depression and anxiety she was probably also suffering from another mental illness that could cause the delirious state she was into. Her actions weren´t caused by depression, that’s clear, because as far as I know no depression leads to such thoughts, she literally lost her mind and was trapped inside that delirium.

    Regarding the characters I kept simpatazing with Zen the most during the entire game. His role was clear, he brought humour after really serious and angsty chats, but he also had his very serious moments which I also loved. Maybe because he was very logical, practial and straight to the point whithout losing his human side, he was the character I could “connect” the most, but that’s just personal opinion.
    About Jumin, I have a couple of things to say. At first I was okay with him, in fact liked how rational he was, but then in his route he got out of hand. I understand his issue and everything, but still I felt during the entire route, specially during the time MC was locked (because she WAS LOCKED) inside his apartment from there it went from bad to worst. He is emotionally manipulating MC not to leave him during the entire thing, ejercing control constantly. It was hard for me not to get the hell out of there specially after the scene where he shuts the door.
    But it was just a game where the goal was to help the memebers to heal, and that happened to be his issue, I understand that. However, what actually worries me is that people (I’ve seen it a lot on tumblr) are thinking that Jumin attitude is romantic and even SEXY. ITS NOT ROMANTIC OR SEXY IT IS PLAIN ABUSSIVE. There’s a reason why Jumin’s bad ending is bad, it’s because he kept that attitude and took it even further.
    People let’s stop romanticizing abusive, possesive, and controlling relationships, that’s not natural and it’s definitely not healthy.

    If you overlook those things and don’t overthink it, it’s an entertaining game with and interesting concept and format, very well done indeed. Still I enjoyed it, but it did caught me off guard how serious it suddenly turned, like once you reach certain point it goes from a happy game to a game where really serious subjets were touched, I just wished at moments that those subjects were handled differently but that’s all.

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  20. i wonder if some of you can answer my question, i just finished the secret ending. i too think that jumin and jaehee know about the truth behind V’s death but why did jumin want to legally interrogate RIka but not Saeran? i mean, it’s still him who killed his dear friend V, no matter what circumstances he’s in (i mean Rika is also mentally ill, what makes him so different from Rika) and how can he stay calm when Saeran enter RFA? I dont hate Saeran but in my opinion Jumin should be having a hard time accepting him. or maybe he also dont know the truth that Saeran shot V?

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