Tears of Themis | Full Release | Game Review & Beginner’s Guide
It’s here! The highly-anticipated ‘Tears of Themis’ generated a lot of excitement in the community during it’s closed beta testing, and now, as of July 29, 2021, the full game has been released for everyone on English servers. With a huge supply of server release celebrations, freebies and special deals, now is a great time to check out Tears of Themis if you’re curious about miHoYo’s innovative otome venture.
Tears of Themis
Genre: Romance / Detective
Platform: iOS and Android
Release Date: July 29, 2021
Developer and Publisher: miHoYo
Official Website (EN): https://tot.mihoyo.com/en/
Age Rating: 4+ / Everyone
Premise: You’re a budding lawyer working under the guidance of the senior attorney, Artem Wing, when you stumble across a case involving food poisoning at a local restaurant. Brimming with ambition and a burning desire to help innocent victims, you pledge to take on the case. But, little did you know, it would lead to an intricate web of conspiracies far more convoluted than you ever imagined…
When the lawful world collapses and the line between good and evil blurs, stand your ground and uphold justice.
The MC (main character) in Tears of Themis has a customisable name with no default option. This is known as ‘self-insert’; a style of otome game designed to allow complete immersion, so players can become the protagonist of their own story. Typically, MC’s in self-insert otome games have very limited personalities and backstories – the more nuance given to the MC, the more likely it is to contradict with the protagonist you envision – however, this isn’t the case in Tears of Themis.
The heroine of this story is a young and hungry career woman with a bold personality and a burning passion for justice. She’s intelligent, brave, and hardworking. In other words: a girl boss. I’m typically a fan of self-insert otome, and I don’t mind if the protagonist has little to no existing personality or backstory, but I also really like the MC in Tears of Themis.
She’s not a damsel in distress; she’s a determined, capable, career-oriented woman who isn’t afraid to take charge. From as early as the first chapter, we see her drive to help others, and her dedication to her job. She’s intelligent, perceptive, and uses her initiative. She’s idealistic, but open to learning from others, seeking to understand rather than judge. It’s easy to see why the love interests fall for her, and the writers managed to maintain a satisfying balance of realistically flawed and enjoyable to read.
When the darkness hidden beneath the tranquil city finally unveils itself, one must choose carefully and stay true to their values and beliefs.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Tears of Themis is the stunning opening cinematic. There are interactive elements and several player choices, but each comes with only one option, so there aren’t any plot-relevant decisions to make. However, the art and animation is romantic, dynamic, and truly beautiful. A lot of work has clearly been put in to the overall appearance and aesthetic of the game, which is not only obvious in the prologue, or the important scenes with CG’s, but even just ordinary moments throughout the story.
One of the artists on the Tears of Themis team is a prolific illustrator and character designer, known as TCB, who has previously worked for other otome game companies, including Rejet and CYBIRD, even designing the characters for Ikémen Revolution. TCB is one of my favourite artists in the industry, so as soon as I saw this I instantly knew why I loved the character designs in Tears of Themis so much!
Tears of Themis has four love interests: your stoic but thoughtful boss, Artem Wing; an elegant and mysterious psychiatrist, Dr Vyn Richter; your childhood best-friend-turned-private-detective, Luke Pearce; and the flirtatious, seemingly carefree business heir, Marius von Hagen.
You are one comprehensive lexicon that I’d dedicate my life to study.
“The media calls him an emotionless robot defence attorney. Little do they know, this is because Artem has grown used to suppressing his emotions. No one can imagine the kind of past he bears…”
Voice Actors: Zhao Lu (CHS), Yin Xiang (CHT), Suwabe Junichi (JP), Jang Minhyuck (KR)
Do not be afraid. I only wish to know your heart.
“A psychiatrist who can see through all disguises. As someone who always observed the volatile human emotions from the outside, Vyn never expected himself to become one with the same emotions.”
Voice Actors: Jiang Guangtao (CHS), Yu Cheng-Shen (CHT), Fukuyama Jun (JP), Hwang Changyung (KR)
There are cases that I can’t crack… such as you.
“Tracking, sniping, combat, tactical driving, and wilderness survival… There’s almost nothing he’s not good at… all except for expressing his love for the girl he grew up with…”
Voice Actors: Titus Jin (CHS), Chen Hung Yu (CHT), Kaji Yuki (JP), Kim Jiyul (KR)
Marius von Hagen
Calling you “Missy” doesn’t mean I take you for a diva.
“He has a carefree and rebellious playboy public image, all to hide his true self. This is also the reason why the public doubts whether he is capable of leading such a global corporation.”
Voice Actors: Yang Tianxiang (CHS), Chiang Chih Lun (CHT), Ishikawa Kaito (JP), Han Shin (KR)
From the opening cinematic to the end of the first chapter, Tears of Themis hits you with a stunning introduction before gradually establishing the basic elements of the game. Don’t expect anything too intense in this initial chapter as it acts as a sort of tutorial, letting you dip your toes in before plunging headfirst into the mysterious web of conspiracies and intrigue.
Despite the small cast of love interests, there does seem to be a focus on only one or two of the characters in each chapter, with the plot following the action of the story rather than your developing relationships. For a more romantic experience, you can play each character’s personal stories, which you unlock as you increase your affection level with the respective love interest. You can also unlock bonus stories by upgrading cards, which provide more romantic scenes and a chance to delve deeper into that character’s personality and backstory.
The main story itself is more of a crime-based drama/mystery adventure. Lawyers in Tears of Themis seem to fill the role of detectives rather than actual attorneys (this is probably for the best as investigating crime scenes and interrogating witnesses is far more fun than paperwork and researching legal precedents), so you spend most of your time looking for clues and solving mysteries. As you progress through each chapter, more of the conspiracies behind the scenes come to light, slowly revealing the truth behind the strange events in the city of Stellis.
Chapter 1 is a more light-hearted introduction that serves the purpose of an orientation to Tears of Themis’ gameplay, as well as the premise of the story and two of the four love interests; Luke Pearce and Artem Wing. Chapter 2 felt a little slow in comparison, and while it introduces Marius von Hagen and Dr. Vyn Richter, it spends the majority of its time investigating the main case of the chapter with Vyn. This is where the themes of mental illness start to become much more prominent, and the case you are investigating is much more violent and disturbing than the case in Chapter 1, so be prepared for some heavy themes.
Chapter 3 felt like it picked up the pace again, with some of the hints at larger conspiracies in the background finally moving to the foreground. By the end of Chapter 4 all the features of the game have been unlocked and you’ve had a chance to investigate cases with each of the love interests.
While the opening prologue suggests darker mysteries behind the scenes, it takes a while for the protagonist to become aware of what’s going on. Despite the slow-burn with the more dramatic elements of the plot, each case is interesting and watching all of the different threads start to come together builds to a bigger pay-off when the secrets are revealed. There are plenty of plot twists and intrigue to keep you hooked while you’re subtly inducted into a much grander scheme.
Content warnings: As Tears of Themis is a crime-based drama, there are frequent themes of crime and crime-related violence. One of the love interests (Dr. Vyn Richter) is a psychiatrist, and while mental illness and mental disorders are prevalent throughout the entire story, they are particularly prominent themes in his personal and bonus stories*.
There are also mentions of other traumatic and violent themes, including self-harm, suicide, and abuse. The first chapter is relatively free of these, but the second chapter suddenly gets much more intense, so be prepared for a noticeable change in tone from Chapter 1 to Chapters 2 and beyond.
*It’s worth noting that the majority of these instances are handled with the intention of compassion and understanding, and Vyn’s character in particular is an advocate for the wellbeing of his patients. But, there are occasions where these themes pop up unexpectedly or their representation isn’t entirely accurate.
☆ Unique detective gameplay blends investigation and interrogation with court trials
☆ Captivating plot with unexpected twists and a conspiracy that gradually unfolds
☆ Romantic stories weaved with four compelling male protagonists
☆ Exquisite dynamic CGs with voiced dialogues and dubbing available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean
I discussed the gameplay of Tears of Themis in my First Impressions of the Closed Beta, so I’ll only briefly sum up my thoughts here before delving into a more detailed look at the many mechanics, resources, and features. There are a lot of different gameplay elements in Tears of Themis – covering them all would require a full-on game guide – so I’ve chosen to focus on the most important features for new players. Certain parts of the game are unlocked after you’ve already completed the first chapter (or even later), by which point you’ll likely have a handle on the basics anyway and won’t need a guide!
While many aspects of Tears of Themis are similar to other mobile otome games, miHoYo has found a way to revolutionise these familiar styles of gameplay by flawlessly incorporating them into the story chapters themselves. Throughout the story, you have the opportunity to examine people and crime scenes for clues, analyse your findings to draw conclusions, and eventually take the case to court, where you draw on evidence you collected to win at trial.
Debates: In addition to the interactive investigations, there are debates interspersed between story parts that fill the role of the minigames we’ve seen in other mobile otome games. While these minigames can often be annoying and disrupt the flow of the story, I don’t feel that the debates are too frequent or obtrusive in Tears of Themis. They’re also connected to the events of the story, as the person you are debating with is relevant to the chapter you are in, preventing them from getting too repetitive.
Debates are fought using the cards you collect in the gacha (called ‘Visions’), which you roll for using a resource aptly named ‘Tears of Themis’. They fall into three categories – Logic, Intuition, and Empathy – which are effective against each other in a rock-paper-scissors style of hierarchy. Empathy (Red) beats Intuition (Green), which beats Logic (Blue), which, in turn, beats Empathy.
Gacha: To collect these cards, you spend Tears of Themis in the ‘Visions’ (Gacha) feature, allowing you to pull a certain number of cards from a pool of many different potential choices. These cards vary in rarity, with rarer cards having higher stats and featuring more exclusive art, as well as bonus side-stories unique to that card. You can either do a single roll or save up to do ten in one go.
Once you have a deck of cards, you can improve their stats by using them in debates and spending certain resources collected via the various minigames and quest rewards. This is the part that gets confusing as Tears of Themis has lots of different in-game resources to collect, each with different functions. It’s useful to know what each resource does (and how difficult it is to acquire), as the mall offers lots of packs and item exchanges, all with special deals to celebrate launch day.
It may take a bit of playing around and exploring the game to discover all of its features, but the important thing to remember is that anything outside of the main story is more of an additional bonus, and not necessarily integral to the game. You can play through the story without knowing how to maximise your efficiency with item drops and still have an enjoyable experience, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on the gacha to build an effective team for debates.
When you open the app, you’ll be greeted by a homepage with several menu options.
At the top left, you’ll see the image of whichever card you have selected as your ‘Perfect Partner’ (you can choose which card appears here by clicking on the icon and selecting the box labelled ‘Perfect Partner’ with a little eye icon in the corner).
Clicking on this portrait takes you to your profile, where you can choose the ‘invitation’ that appears on your home page (I have ‘Study Hour’ with Luke selected), as well as your name and profile bio. You can also view your inventory, card archive, and change game and audio settings here.
At the top you will see three resources and the amount you have of each. The pink icon on the left is ‘Gems’ – these can be converted into S-Chips or used to purchase items in the in-game store.
The blue icon in the middle is your ‘S-Chips’, which can be spent to gain more energy, or converted into Tears of Themis. The golden icon on the right is ‘Stellin’, which you spend when you upgrade your cards.
Underneath the profile in the top-left, you’ll see a small four-square grid. Clicking on this expands it to show three icons; a bell (notifications and news), two people (friends list: add friends and send/receive ‘Friendship Badges’, which can be exchanged for items), and an envelope (messages from the game devs that usually have items attached as gifts).
Underneath the four-square grid is an icon with a shopping trolley. This takes you to the ‘Mall’, a.k.a the in-game store. The store has four tabs; recommended, gems, packs, and exchange.
The ‘Recommended’ tab shows special deals, including current event-exclusives. ‘Gems’ is self-explanatory – it’s where you purchase gems (your current amount is shown via the pink icon at the top).
There are two types of ‘Packs’; Permanent and Time-Limited. These are exactly what they sound like – permanent packs are available all the time, whereas time-limited packs are special sales or exclusive packs related to events. Sometimes there are free packs, so it’s worth checking to see what deals are available.
The exchange tab is where you can spend the friendship badges you collect via your friends list. Furthermore, once you have fully upgraded a card, any duplicates you receive are converted into ‘gifts’, which you can also exchange here.
The items available for exchange are typically used in upgrading and evolving cards; if you’re not sure what an item does, you can tap on it for its usage details.
Note: store prices may vary depending on the currency you use and the country you live in and therefore may be different from the ones shown in the image(s) in this article.
Below the ‘Mall’ icon is a small clipboard; ‘Quests’. This is where you keep track of tasks that provide rewards upon completion. There are three types of quests; Daily, Story, and Event.
Daily quests reset each day, allowing you to repeatedly complete them and collect the prizes. Story quests pertain to milestones in the story part of the game, providing bonuses as you progress through the chapters.
Event quests are time-limited and relevant to any event happening in the game. They will be different depending on the event they relate to, but typically it involves completing certain tasks to collect an event item that you can then exchange for rewards.
If you’re not sure how to complete a quest, you can click the ‘proceed’ button to be redirected to whichever part of the game you need to be in to fulfil the task.
In most screens, there are arrow and home icons in the top-left corner that make it easy to return to the homepage no matter where you are in the game. Despite having lots of features and pages in the app, the UI in Tears of Themis is actually pretty clean and easy to navigate.
There are also multiple ways to access the same function. For example, you can exchange friendship badges from the ‘Friends’ page, or through the store. This makes it pretty intuitive to navigate, although it does still take a little bit of exploration to wrap your head around all of the available features.
Below quests, there is a button for ‘Events’. This takes you to a page with tabs for each current event. There’s the ongoing ‘Daily Sign-In’, where you can claim a new reward each day, as well as limited-time events providing unique and exclusive bonuses.
This button is specifically for claiming rewards and exchanging event items. If you want to check out the event tasks, you can do so through the ‘Quests’ button instead.
Tip for beginner mobile game players: Sometimes mobile games can be pretty time consuming, which can be tough to keep up with when you’re busy. If you don’t have time to play for hours each day, it’s worth at least logging in to collect the daily sign-in bonus.
You’ll be surprised at how much you can accumulate just through the daily freebies! This is especially useful for free-to-play players, as the resources you can acquire for free are often expensive if you were to purchase them instead.
Decks & Cards
At the bottom-left corner of the screen, you’ll find the ‘Deck’ feature. This is where you manage your decks of cards that you use during debates. You can have multiple decks, with more card slots opening up as you increase your level.
If you’re not sure on how to build a deck, you can click the question mark button at the top for some tips, or simply select ‘Auto Build’ to have the game choose for you.
To the right of ‘Decks’ is ‘Cards’. I explained this earlier in the article in relation to the gacha feature, but essentially this is where you manage your cards, including upgrading, enhancing, and unlocking stories, private messages, and other bonuses.
These bonus stories are only available for SR or SSR rank cards. SR stories are not voiced, but SSR stories are fully voiced, just like the main story. They’re surprisingly long and often allow you to learn more about the love interest, as well as providing some more romantic opportunities.
You also get rewards for reading them! These rewards include S-Chips and affection points. Be prepared, however, that each act of the story unlocks at certain card levels, so you may have to read it in parts while you level up the card.
Phone app: Towards the bottom-right of the home page, there is a phone icon. This is where you can text and call your love interest(s). I like how this is styled to look like a smartphone rather than just another page in the app. It adds to the immersion and, honestly, the texts and calls are one of my favourite parts of the game! It’s just another form of interaction with the characters that provides more of the romantic element to this otome game.
Note: You can also change the display name and picture for each of your contacts! This is how the name and icon will appear when you receive a text message or phone call from the character. Thank you Lottie for pointing this out to me!
I won’t talk about the NXX button for now as this is unlocked later into the game, by which point you’ll already have a handle on the basics of the gameplay. Instead, I’ll skip to what is probably the most important part of the game – the big ‘X-Note’ button in the bottom-right.
X-Note: This is where you’ll find the main story, as well as the ‘Anomaly’, event, and study tabs. The main chapters feature a mix of story, investigation, and debate parts, whereas the ‘Anomaly’ chapters are only debates. You can complete the Anomaly chapters for item rewards, including S-Chips and other extensive bonuses, especially on first completion. ‘Study’ is where you can fulfil daily activities to acquire items, and it’s often where you need to go to complete quests.
The ‘Event’ tab is where the story parts of events are found, as well as the ‘Trials of Themis’ minigames. I recommend the Trials of Themis and Temple of Trials for when you want to acquire more S-Chips, as you get them in abundance here, especially the first time you complete each level.
In the bottom-right corner of the home page (underneath X-Note), you’ll find one of the bonus features that adds another layer of interaction with the love interests. You’ll automatically be taken here as part of the tutorial when you unlock it, but I wanted to talk about it anyway because I really love this part of the game.
In ‘Visits’, you can select one of the characters to interact with and increase your affection level. As you level up your affection with a particular character, you unlock more interactions with them, including dialogue and games. You gain the ability to visit each of the characters at different points in the story, at which point you will be notified that they have been added to the map.
Note: Once you select a love interest and visit them, the back arrow at the top-left will return you to the homepage, not the map! I keep making this mistake so I thought I’d mention it here. If you’re visiting a character and want to go back to the map, you’ll need to click the map icon in the bottom-left instead.
The ‘Story’ part of a visit is essentially a character’s individual route. I love that we have these in addition to the main story, as it means we get both a common route and one for each love interest. The ‘Chat’ part of a visit is how you raise your affection by touching them and playing games such as rock-paper-scissors or Old Maid. Their reactions to you touching them changes depending on where you touch them and how high your affection level is (I recommend Artem’s tie!).
That might seem like a lot to learn, but Tears of Themis does introduce each element gradually, and if you’re not sure where to start, there are Rookie Quests and other daily tasks that provide rewards for completing different activities, so you can always check there if you’re lost. Plus, as I said before, most of these additional features aren’t necessary for playing the main story, so you can ignore them in the beginning and just follow the game’s prompts as you progress through each chapter.
I personally like the way the gameplay of Tears and Themis has been designed. The debates between chapters don’t take very long and they use just enough strategy to be interesting without being too complicated or difficult. There are various options that allow you to tweak the amount of time and energy you want to spend on the gameplay versus the story, so there is a nice balance of plot and interaction. I really love the investigative elements that are threaded throughout the chapters, elevating seemingly standard scenes to provide an overall heightened experience.
Tears of Themis hasn’t just taken something that works and added their own spin; they’ve created something unique and innovative while still honouring familiar elements from the otome games we know and love. Instead of having the standard story parts interrupted by disruptive, generic minigames, the gameplay and other interactive elements have been incorporated into the chapters themselves to create something cohesive and fluid.
The attention to detail is outstanding. Even when I’m playing Old Maid with Artem in the minigame within the ‘Visit’ minigame, he’s still animated, moving his hands to choose a card, faltering and pausing as he makes his move. There’s a dynamic feeling that you don’t often find in story-based games, largely due to miHoYo opting to use partially or fully animated images rather than stills. When you speak to characters, their faces don’t just switch between a handful of images with different expressions, they move, sometimes even gesturing with their hands, making their body language and facial expressions feel far more natural and evocative.
The CG’s and special scenes within the story are also at least partially animated. Even if it’s just a loop of Artem turning the page on the book he’s reading as the sun streams through his office window and across his face, it’s still exciting and goes to show just how much effort was put into each moment of Tears of Themis. I’m yet to come across anything boring, which each chapter providing something new and exciting that compels me to keep playing, even if it’s just to see how else miHoYo can take a classic formula and push it to new heights.
You’ll like Tears of Themis if you like: mystery/detective stories, drama and intrigue, strategic gameplay combined with compelling storytelling, dynamic and romantic art, bold heroines, innovative game design.
Disclaimer: The non-screenshot images, ‘key features’ list, quotes, and ‘About miHoYo’ information were provided to me by a PR representative from miHoYo. I was also provided with an in-game gift, but this does not affect my opinion in any way.
Tears of Themis
Genre: Romance Detective
Platform: iOS and Android
Release Date: July 29, 2021
Developer and Publisher: miHoYo
Official Website (EN): https://tot.mihoyo.com/en/
Age Rating: 4+ / Everyone
“Tech Otakus Save the World!” In 2012, miHoYo founded its headquarters in Shanghai and released video games such as Genshin Impact, Tears of Themis, and the Honkai Impact series into the world. miHoYo is dedicated to becoming an industry leader in interactive entertainment and development. The company’s persistence and strive for top-quality products have brought forth a wide range of works including games, comics, and light novels. miHoYo is dedicated to building an everlasting user community and sharing its vision with gamers across the world.
For more information, please visit the official website at http://tot.mihoyo.com, Twitter (@TearsofThemisEN), Instagram (@tearsofthemis_en), Facebook (@tearsofthemis.glb), the official Discord server, or the official YouTube channel.
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