The Tears of Themis closed beta ended a short while ago and I was lucky to have been one of the participants! I’d like to talk a bit about my first impressions based on the small look we got into the game. Tears of Themis is an otome/detective game with gacha elements that is being developed by MiHoYo for Android and iPhone. The game’s storyline is divided into a main story where you solve various criminal cases, side-stories for each love interest that unlock as you raise their affection and card stories you unlock through leveling the cards you acquire through the gacha system. The cards from the gacha system are also used in a debating mini-game that you play to advance the story, which unfortunately doesn’t involve much exciting gameplay other than choosing cards of the right colour to ‘attack’ with.
As you might notice from the reviews on this blog, I don’t usually play phone otome games, and Tears of Themis is a bit of an exception. I don’t enjoy going through largely uninteresting mini-games and collecting 23 different types of currencies when what I really want to do is read a good story. Tears of Themis definitely has shades of this as well, and it is the main thing that puts me off from the game. However, what I find refreshing and pleasant is that the currencies needed to progress came fast and easy, and I did not find myself having to grind anything out for the sake of progressing the plot. Comparing to Voltage’s Ayakashi: Romance Reborn, one of the few other phone otome I’ve tried, there was a lot more story to enjoy per minute spent on side-objectives and the story itself was more engaging as well. Admittedly, I don’t know if this is in part because the closed beta was more generous than the full release will be, but I hope that won’t be the case.
With my one big complaint out of the way I want to talk about just how much I enjoyed the content of the closed beta that was presented to us! The main storyline has us investigating various cases through several types of detective minigames. We collect evidence, question witnesses, find connections to deduce further clues and eventually present our case in a court trial. The system is fun and well-executed and the cases so far have been quite intriguing. Unlike its obvious inspiration Ace Attorney, Tears of Themis doesn’t leave us too much to deduce for ourselves, as most of the case is put together by the characters rather than the player. This might be due to the relatively limited scope of the cases presented so far, I’ll be hoping for some more challenging cases in the full version! The last chapter playable in the beta definitely leads us to believe that there is a thread connecting the cases we’ve covered, a grander overarching plot waiting to be solved, and that definitely excites me!
The main story didn’t offer much in the form of romance, but each of the four main love interests has a personal route that centers more on the relationship between him and the main character. I had a clear bias for the white-haired megane voiced by Fukuyama Jun and his was the only personal story I experienced entirely, but it’s worth noting that all “routes” can be played simultaneously. In order to unlock personal stories you can pet the character of your choice, play games with him or unlock his card stories in order to gain his affection. I hope in the full version we’ll see relationships develop even further, but as we are early into the storyline, the lack of overt romance makes sense. I do wonder if the romance will be acknowledged in the main story at all, as that would probably require some sort of branching that I’m not sure the developers would be willing to invest in.
Of course, the game is extremely polished and has higher production values than I’ve seen in any phone game. The art is absolutely stunning, there’s huge amounts of CGs, and all content except card stories is voiced by extremely talented big name voice actors. A more unexpected positive for me was the main character, who is competent and intelligent, and for once I could actually understand why these men would fall for her. I’d love to see more otome heroines like her, and I especially enjoyed her various cultural references, like recognising a piece of classical music in the background or reciting pieces of trivia from Greek mythology.
All in all, I am really pleased with what we’ve seen in the beta so far, and it has made me very excited for the full release, despite the fact that I don’t usually enjoy gacha elements. The game has a lot of content to offer, and the story looks like it’ll be going in interesting directions. Since the game will be free to play upon release, I hope anyone reading will take the chance to check it out, this is definitely the most promising phone otome game I have encountered!