Genre: RPG, fantasy, action, online single and multiplayer
Available on: iOS, Android, PS4, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (TBA) and PS5 (TBA)
Genshin Impact is an online RPG created by Chinese video game developer miHoYo which initially released on 28th September 2020 for Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android and PS4. The online RPG drops players into the world of Teyvat, a vast open world containing seven nations including Mondstadt, Inazume, Liyue, Sumeru, Fontaine, Natlan and Snezhnaya. Alongside these seven nations, the world of Teyvat has a floating island known as Celestia which is a mystical place supposedly home to the gods of this world. Players are given a choice to play as one of two siblings known as “the traveller”. As you the player choose your character choice, you are then separated from your sibling by a unknown god before getting trapped within the world of Teyvat. As the traveller, you meet a small fairy looking character named Paimon who joins you on your quest. After meeting Paimon, the quest to find your sibling begins and exploration, adventure and battles are all awaiting you.
I have been in desperate need for games that feel and play similar to Breath of the World and Genshin Impact happened to be the perfect candidate to help fill the BOTW void in my heart. Over the past few weeks I have been regularly (and some days obsessively) playing the RPG on my iPhone. When first booting up the game I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew little to nothing about it other than it is a fairly new release and is popular within the gaming and anime communities right now. The fact that it was a free to play game for iOS made me doubt the content, quality and I expected to be met with paywalls in order to meaningfully enjoy and advance within the game. Oh boy, how wrong I was! The opening cut scene with the siblings getting separated was excellent quality to the point where it felt like a scene from an anime. Being the anime nerd that I am, the opening graphics obviously grabbed my attention and made me excited to give the game a shot. After choosing to play as the male sibling, I was thrilled to find I could name the little guy and give him whatever birthday I wanted. I named my character “Toshi” as a little nod to Gintama’s Hijikata, inputted my birthday into the game and began my journey.
Mechanics for iOS
iOS mechanics were something I was both interested and hesitant to see when downloading the game. Having a controller on a PlayStation or a keyboard on Windows makes sense but I didn’t quite understand how controls would translate to a touchscreen phone. Thankfully my qualms were put to rest quite quickly as the overall iOS mechanics are simple and easy to use. Using my left thumb on the button left of the screen to control my character whilst my right thumb can switch between jumping, running, weapons and abilities feels natural when playing. I really enjoy the fact that characters within my active travel party are very easy to switch between. Having character icons and stamina bars to the right of the screen allows fast access to specific abilities you may need in any given moment. When fighting enemies I find myself continuously switching in and out characters to use all their different abilities to my advantage.
I have had a few issues whilst playing ranging from minor inconveniences to some major glitches. One minor issue I find is with the walking and jumping functions. I find my characters often climbing where I don’t want them to climb. For example, when near a building I want to enter, if the direction is even slightly off, characters will begin climbing the walls. This is a minor annoyance but can become irritating after a while. Another slightly more problematic issue I often face is the camera angles which move automatically during enemy attacks. The camera will often shift itself downwards so that foliage blocks the view of incoming enemies. I often have to readjust angles to get a better look at what is going on around me. Even then the camera will often readjust itself to obscure my view. Whilst this is not detrimental to the games overall performance, it can become tiresome to manually shift camera angles whilst fighting off enemies.
Major glitches have stopped me from progressing in parts of the game which has caused some real frustration when trying to progress through quests. I recently began a quest named The Mystery of the Girl in Red’s Treasure under the True Treasure story quest. After navigating to the Whispering Woods and locating the location of the treasure, I then had to defeat a handful of monsters. I defeated said monsters and then the game glitched sending me back to a point just before defeating the monsters. Assuming it was a one time glitch, I defeated the monsters again only for the exact same glitch to happen. After the second attempt, I gave up on the quest entirely and haven’t gone back to it since. I’m hoping with future updates that developers will be able to sort of this bug.
The Stories of Teyvat
I’m going to be completely honest here, I don’t have a great deal of interest when concerning the plot points and storylines for the majority of quests. I usually skip through a lot of the dialogue and click on whichever option sounds best to me when it is my character’s turn to speak. At the beginning of the game I paid close attention to all the dialogue and overarching story. However, as I began exploring the world and learning the mechanics my mind drifted off to being more invested in battles, levelling up and unlocking new characters. Especially when concerning daily missions and smaller quests, I just want to get on with the action instead of talking to the NPCs. It’s harsh to say this but a lot of the time, I just don’t care about the dialogue or the characters I’m interacting with. I’ve found that with characters I do like such as Diluc and Qiqi I will listen to the dialogue and take more interest in the story or quest that they are involved in.
Genshin Impact Versus Breath of the Wild
If you have played The Legend of Zelda’s Breath of the Wild then there is no escaping the similarities the two games hold when compared with each other. The developers have said themselves that BOTW was a huge inspiration when creating Genshin Impact but also argue that the two games are very different. And I definitely see both sides of the argument for this. On the one hand, I started Genshin Impact BECAUSE it reminds me so much of Breath of the Wild. The open world gameplay which BOTW is so renowned for is replicated in Genshin Impact allowing players freedom to roam and explore the world of Teyvat. Gaming mechanics such as stamina bars, cooking recipes for specific benefits, types of enemies and levelling up characters all feels extremely similar to that in Breath of the Wild. Hilichurls feel like moblins and bokoblins, mitachurls are like less overpowered versions of lynels and abyss mages are reminiscent of wizzrobes. And every time I see a slime I call it a chuchu. These similarities to Breath of the Wild make a good argument for Genshin Impact being just a clone of Nintendo’s best seller.
The structure of Teyvat’s map also radiates BOTW energy upon first inspection. When players are first dropped into the game only a small area of the map is available meaning that exploration is key to unlocking new areas within the world. Instead of Sheikah towers and shrines, Teyvat has Statue of the Seven and temples to unlock allowing players to expand the interactive map as teleport easily from area to area. When first seeing the map I felt as overwhelmed as I did when I first started playing Breath of the Wild. I had no clue where I was going or how big the map was so I felt a little helpless. I think my previous experience which such a vast open world game helped to combat this initial feeling. Unlocking areas of the map feels much easier than it does in Breath of the Wild which is great especially for those who may be new to the world of open world games.
However, Genshin Impact does differ from its inspiration containing its own charm to draw players in. Its huge cast of playable characters is appealing to players. Those in the anime community may recognise the appeal of discovering new favourite characters, husbandos and waifus to add to their favourites list. With a cute anime art style and a range of character personalities to discover it makes exploring the world of Teyvat exciting to players who want to learn more about the lore and character backstories. The large range of characters to play helps to spice up gameplay whilst Breath of the Wild only allows you to play as Link. I enjoy being able to level up my characters, give them better weapons, artefacts and level up their talents in a way that suits me. Unlike the continuously breaking weaponry in Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact has a range of weapon types to suit its characters which never break after a certain amount of usage. I actually prefer this to Breath of the Wild’s weaponry system as I’m not constantly worrying if my sword or bow and arrow is going to break mid-battle.
Customisable Play Styles
One of the best parts of playing Genshin Impact is being able to try out different play styles. Since the game offers such a variety of character designs and abilities to unlock, it makes it fun to test out new characters and see if they work well with personal play styles. Characters are easy to switch in and out of active travel parties meaning you can build friendship levels with each character with ease. Having such freedom with the characters has allowed me to figure out which elements and abilities I gravitate towards more. For example, I love having anemo, pyro, cryo and electro in my active party and I often gravitate towards characters including Razor, Bennett and Chongyun alongside the traveller. I love the detail that there’s a variety of playable characters from different backgrounds and nations including Mondstadt, Liyue and Snezhnaya. Not only can players interact with NPC’s from these nations but also meet and unlock characters to play and level up. I’m excited for future updates where hopefully the developers will be adding more characters from other nations within Teyvat.
As of writing this I currently have 13 of the 29 currently playable characters. But, my biggest pet peeve with Genshin Impact is the gacha game system. Minus the six free characters which are easy to obtain, all of the most desirable, five star characters are based on pure luck. Players either have to earn Primogems or buy them with actual money. Even when saving Priogems to buy the bundles which guarentee four and five star items, players are never guaranteed a new character. I have saved gems a number of times only to be met with repeat characters or a selection of new weapons. It can be extremely disappointing as a player and although I have unlocked some great characters so far, I wonder if i’ll ever obtain the top tier five star characters. This kind of game latches onto the fact that players will have at least one or two characters they just NEED to have which is where money can come into play. Characters I am on a quest to obtain include Diluc and Qiqi and I have yet to drop a single pound on the game out of principal. Hopefully one of these days I’ll finally get luck on the gacha game!
Overall, I have loved playing Genshin Impact so far and will most likely continue to enjoy and play it for many months to come. I have a habit of obsessing over a game on my phone for a couple of months before eventually growing tired of it and allowing it to gather virtual dust amongst my other apps never to be played again. However, I think Genshin Impact will continue to keep my attention especially given the Nintendo Switch release which is due out in the near future. While I do have quite a few criticisms with the game, it is still a hell of a lot of fun to play. It scratches that Breath of the Wild itch I have whilst still offering its own unique qualities. It’s a lot of fun to log on daily to complete daily missions and receive rewards and timed events including the most recent Lantern Rite Festival helps to keep Genshin Impact fresh. The high quality graphics and gameplay matched with the fact that it’s free to play (for the most part) makes it a great way to pass the time especially whilst in lockdown!
Overall rating: 7.5/10