I recently had the pleasure of participating in the closed beta for the upcoming mobile game Tears of Themis– from the developers of the global phenomenon Genshin Impact, miHoYo. The game is an Otome romance game as well as a detective adventure. Whilst a lot of the focus is likely to be on the romance aspects of the game, during my time with the beta I found that there is a lot more to the game than may initially meet the eye. It is a game with beautifully designed artwork, a highly intriguing narrative, and addictive gameplay. Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy features from the Tears of Themis closed beta. Don’t worry; I won’t be discussing any plot points so you have no fear of spoilers!
The Art Style
The anime art style of the game is prevalent with the otome game genre- which finds itself mostly tied to simulation games, notably dating sims. This anime/manga art style likely stems from the genre’s Japanese origins and Tears of Themis adapts this style brilliantly. The artwork in this game truly goes and above and beyond your regular mobile game. Each character has a unique look and is beautifully designed. This is especially so for the four main male romance options- Artem Wing, Luke Pearce, Vyn Richter, and Marius von Hagen- but even the supporting characters are wonderfully detailed with their own look and character styles to inject them with a burst of individual personality. The player character has a set art style- she isn’t customizable although you can choose her name- and I think this decision was for the best to allow her to fit in more neatly with the established designs of the other characters. There are also little hints of animation here and there, such as the movement of characters’ lips as they talk or their hair and clothing blowing in the breeze if they are outside. It’s a little thing but it makes all the difference when it comes to pulling the player into the game world. The background art for the various settings within the game is also beautifully done and makes this world even more immersive. Much like Genshin Impact, the artwork is absolutely astounding and escalates Tears of Themis far above your run-of-the-mill mobile game.
Tears of Themis is a detective-based narrative game- the player character is a junior lawyer at Themis Law – so the gameplay involves finding clues on crime scenes, evaluating and questioning key individuals, and choosing the right evidence during a final trial in order to make your case. You need to hone your investigative skills and be able to put the clues you find together to make sense of the crime, and it does genuinely feel like you need to think in order to figure out the situation. A lot of detective games rely on the point-and-click formula but Tears of Themis does actually require you to put some thought into your case. That being said, mistakes are easily rectified. The game won’t let you progress in certain situations if you make the wrong choice, but that is understandable for a mobile game. I managed to complete the first case during my time with the beta and you go through a final trial at the very end of your case. Here, you need to respond to questioning from the judge and the opposing legal team with the right evidence. I couldn’t help but feel a little pressured when choosing the evidence I was going to offer up! I managed to make the correct choices so I don’t know if you can put forward the wrong evidence and botch the case but either way, the stakes feel high.
The other major gameplay element of Tears of Themis is the card collection system. As you play the game, you collect Tears which can be used to unlock cards with gorgeous art of the four romance options, some of which are animated. As with mobile card games, there are different tiers of rarity for these cards and they can be levelled up. They also come as one of three different categories- wisdom, empathy, and logic. You use these cards in debate battles, where you enter into a debate with various members of the public or colleagues with the goal of winning the argument. This debate system-and the accompanying card collecting- is a fun and interesting way to mix up the gameplay during the story.
Similar to the gorgeous score for Genshin Impact, (which I have ranted about before) Tears of Themis also has an amazing soundtrack that has no right to be as good as it is considering it is for a mobile game. The score kept me fully engaged as I played and I found myself wanting to seek out the tunes for myself to keep for myself. The most notable use of music is for each of the romance options, who seem to have their own character theme. These themes would not be out of place in a big-budget console or PC game, let alone a mobile title. I sincerely hope that once Tears of Themis is released, the soundtrack becomes readily available to purchase. Please miHoYo! I need that music in my life!
The romance options in the game are all appealing and fit in well with the Otome genre, though they also have more in-depth roles within the narrative. All four characters have their roles in the main story but also have their own storylines that can be played through when you level up your relationship with each one. Admittedly, at a first glance, the four romanceable men feel somewhat stereotypical in terms of their characters. Artem is the stern boss who is clearly harbouring a sweeter side, Luke is the childhood best friend who suddenly comes back into your life, Vyn is the intellectual professor and Marius plays the part of the wealthy bad boy. However, playing through both the main narrative and their individual stories reveals more and more of their personalities, motives, and goals. You soon realize that there is a lot more to each one of them than meets the eye. You just have to be willing to engage in both the main story and the individual stories to delve deeper. I was leaning towards Artem myself but Luke is such a sweet character too! I didn’t have the chance to find out much about Vyn and Marius during my time with the beta but I can already tell that choosing one of them is not going to be easy. The characters- including the main romance options- are also extremely well voiced. You get the choice between Chinese, Japanese and Korean in terms of the audio for the game and you will then get subtitles in your own chosen language. I played with the Korean audio -as I am attempting to learn the language at the moment- but I did listen to some of the other languages to get a sense of the vocal performances. All four (the simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese have two different voice actors) language performances for each character are equally fantastic, with the actors giving it their all and breathing life into the characters. Most mobile games don’t even have voiceovers for their characters so again, this is just another way that miHoYo are going above and beyond to create an immersive gaming experience.
The Tears of Themis closed beta was an incredibly promising experience. I found myself thoroughly engaged with the narrative and characters, wanting to find out exactly what was going on and why. The narrative clearly has depth- as do the characters that we meet along the way- and I can’t wait to find out more. The gameplay also had me hooked as I found myself wanting to level up my cards to complete debates in the fastest time possible. miHoYo will hopefully only expand on what they have shown with their closed beta of Tears of Themis so far to create another smash hit in the same vein as Genshin Impact.