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Game Review: Genshin Impact

by Brandon Ferreira

Genshin Impact is an open-world video game developed by miHoYo, a Chinese game development company, famed for their ability to develop stories in the games they make. Their breakthrough success was with the game Honkai Impact, a mobile action Role-Playing game developed for Android and Apple devices, with a large cast of developed characters and a world that is filled to the brim with lore and stories. Genshin Impact is available on: PS4, PS5, PC, and mobile devices (with a planned release for the Nintendo Switch, coming later), and one does not even need to spend money to play the game. It is completely free to play.

Genshin Impact follows the trend that miHoYo established with Honkai Impact, and features a large playable cast with a massive world to explore. And miHoYo is not even done developing for the game, as it is receiving constant updates-- bringing in new characters alongside new areas to explore.

The game’s story begins with a pair of siblings, Aether and Lumine, traveling Teyvat via flight and eventually trying to leave. However a mysterious woman appears and stops them, before engaging in a fight. The player gets to choose which sibling they want to play as, alongside naming them as well, before the mysterious woman defeats both and separates the pair.

Now with the player in control of their chosen sibling, they now embark on a quest to find their sister/brother and save them, alongside the rest of Tyvat as they are caught up in various plots and battles in their quest. However things are much more complicated, there are more powers in play than it would seem. As the story develops, there will be more twists and turns, and things that the player thought they knew, may be turned on their head.

Genshin Impact’s gameplay is that of an action Role-Playing Game, with a massive world to explore. In combat, every character is capable of using 3 types of attacks: normal attacks, elemental attacks, and elemental bursts, with the latter two being what actually separates each character. Players can use up to four characters at once, while they are playing by themselves, and can switch between each of them whenever the situation requires. Combat is dictated by how well the player can use their characters basic attacks, their elemental abilities, and the system centered on the use of the Elements.

The current usable elements are: Pyro, Cryo, Electro, Geo, Hydro, and Anemo. Each element has a unique reaction with another, and being able to utilize this system fully allows the player to utterly decimate their enemies. This makes the system very unique in its handling and the combat itself is very fast-paced, and fun, while also being simple enough for most players to get a grasp on.

Combat is not the only feature of Genshin Impact. It’s world-building is top-notch, and the writers of the game certainly deserve a lot of credit for how storied the world itself is. Teyvat has been through a lot over the centuries, with allusions to great wars between gods long past being constantly brought up, and ruins scattered across the world-- many of them over a millennia old. The player can explore A LOT of the current two nations of Monstadt and Liyue, and find many secrets that expand upon the land itself and the people they meet. They could also find various secrets and treasures, leading to more equipment for the player’s characters to use. However this can be rather imposing, as the massive world can make traveling rather slow, and some people would rather get a move on than explore a place that doesn’t quite have a lot in the sandbox. Although things do begin to pick up once the player reaches waypoints, which unlocks the fast travel system and allows the player to travel to particular areas, which does make the wandering go by much faster. Whether it be through gliding, climbing, or good old-fashioned running, Genshin Impact’s world is a joy to explore and more will be added to it in future updates.

Like the world of Genshin Impact, the characters themselves feature very similar development to their personalities and stories, especially that of the playable cast. With unique designs and crystal clear personalities, everyone is bound to find a character that particularly jives with them. Some are featured heavily in the current story chapters, however a lot of their backstories and thoughts and various subject matters are locked behind two things. One their friendship level, which can be raised by using them in your party, and the other being the inherent nature of Genshin Impact’s method of gaining characters, the Gacha System.

Gacha Games are of course games, where one gets various items and characters through in-game currency. This currency can be obtained by playing the game, or by spending real money for a huge amount of the in-game money. In Genshin Impact this currency is called Primogems, and in order to get new characters, the player must use these Primogems to wish for characters that they want. However it is random, and there is no guarantee that the player will get a character they want or even a character in general, as they may get a weapon instead. This can make Genshin Impact rather frustrating, as it is luck that will dictate whether or not they can get what they want, or the player will have to spend actual money to have more chances at getting it. And even if the player can get their free Primogems, some characters are only available to be summoned for a limited time, thus leading to more frustration and more of a temptation to spend their hard-earned cash, for a video game. However, Genshin Impact is a free-to-play game, with most of the content being given to the player for free. And the Gacha system is legitimately the only way the game developers can make money from the game, and develop it with the same massive scale they have been going for, since the beginning.

Although that does not quite excuse the amount of time it takes to level characters up. Resources for characters still drop randomly from the enemies and bosses you kill, with the amounts of each material needed, increasing each time your character’s level cap goes up. And this can halt momentum in the game hard, as the player is suddenly unable to progress until they can get their character up to a decent level. And even then, they need to do that with other characters they have as well, and each character requires different materials. The player can of course just focus on a particular set of characters, so that they have a few powerhouses to go through most of the content with, however this can lead to a lack of variety in gameplay as the player will only be using one set of characters.

There’s a lot to love about Genshin Impact. The story and world are developed incredibly well, and the characters are just a joy to learn about. The gameplay is simple but fun, with combat being fluid and fast paced, and exploration being fun. Is Genshin Impact a perfect game? No. I personally do enjoy it a lot, but there are things that may turn away people who don’t play games as much as I do. The world is kinda massive and may deter players who are looking for a quick and fun experience, and the gacha system is rather flawed, seeing as it is entirely luck-based as to whether or not the player will get what they want unless they want to spend money. Not to mention the fact that the process of leveling up just one character, can be incredibly slow and tedious. I still do strongly recommend anybody who loves adventure games to give Genshin Impact a shot, especially with new content for the game being constantly on the horizon. It is a game that’s constantly improving itself and changing for the better, and well… It’s just a generally fun experience that I know anyone can enjoy.

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