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Genshin Impact review: A new age for free-to-play games

Ready to step into Teyvat?

Genshin Impact has garnered quite a lot of attention in the past few weeks, especially considering its early-on debut at ChinaJoy which had one player smash their PS4 in rage. The game has moved far past that, as it surpassed 17 million mobile downloads and making $100 million worldwide mere days after its release. So what’s all the hype about? Here in our Genshin Impact review, we will discuss, how the game managed to successfully nab the western market despite having gacha mechanics present.

More than just a Breath of the Wild clone

To start with Genshin Impact review, it’s clear that miHoYo’s free-to-play RPG takes more than a few pages from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Whether it be the game’s climbing, foraging, or even soaring through the scenic vistas throughout the world of Teyvat. As a huge fan of the Zelda series, we were a bit miffed about just how similar the two were, but after a while, we had more or less forgotten about the resemblances. 

Genshin Impact Review

For starters, at the very beginning of the game, you’re asked to choose between playing as two traveling twins, with the other being taken captive by a mysterious god. After the other twin is sealed away for an unknown amount of time, we’re left powerless on Teyvat. On our journey to find our sibling counterpart, we’re initially accompanied by Paimon, a fairy-like being who refers to herself in the third person. Along the way, many other characters can join the players’ party, and even be rolled for (more on that later). 

Quite frankly, the story isn’t anything to write home about. Playing as a character that’s unfamiliar with the world in order to have NPCs introduce concepts and mechanics can get a bit stale at times, but at least it makes for some interesting dialogue choices. However, the world that’s been laid out is impressive. Each region in Teyvat focuses on a different element, and its denizens worship a different god. While currently, the only regions that can be explored are Montstadt and Liyue, they’re still vast and have a plethora of activities to do. 

Fun combat with some complex mechanics

While harnessing the power of an element and a weapon they specialize in, each playable character in Genshin Impact has a varying playstyle and can make for some compelling combat. It’s easy to switch between characters mid-battle, and there’s a ton of equippable items to choose from. Similarly, characters and weapons can be levelled-up, along with a ton of other enhancements such as ascending characters, constellations, buffing stamina, and so on and so forth. 

Genshin Impact Review

At the same time, the game takes inspiration (or rips off, depending on who you ask) from Breath of the Wild in many ways. The monsters, known as hilichurls, even have camps in the same way moblins and bokoblins do with barrels of loot and guarded treasure chests. Although it improves on some aspects, for example, scaling a mountain is no longer hindered by rain, others seem much more subdued, such as cooking.

Much of the characters and loot that can be obtained are done so using the gacha mechanic, what the game refers to as wishing. It somewhat shatters the immersiveness of the game, as it interrupts the plot in odd ways. For example, on one of my rolls, we managed to get Noelle and Chongyun, two characters who we had not encountered on my journey thus far but were now part of my party. It’s really ‘breaking the third wall’ at its finest, as getting certain characters and items is what most people are breaking their banks for. 

However, at the same time, the game doesn’t exactly force you to make micro-transactions, much unlike other free-to-play games. The regions aren’t hidden behind some pay-wall, nor is there a limit to how much you can play. This in itself is an impressive feat for the game, and it’s still mind-boggling that you can experience a game of this calibre for free without spending a single penny.  

A treat for the eyes and ears

Without a shadow of a doubt, Teyvat looks gorgeous. We remember being in awe during the first segment on the beach and spent a good few minutes just hopping around the coast. On mobile, there are a few dips in frame-rate here and there, and the regions can take some time to load, but it’s nothing that makes the game unplayable. The character designs are pretty standard for an anime-art style based game, but are actually fairly modest and nothing too fanservice-y for those who aren’t into that sort of thing. 

Genshin Impact Review

Speaking of anime, there’s quite a lot of voice-acting for all the characters, and they aren’t just limited to cutscene dialogue. Even the forgemaster you’ll come across in town will have a voice. While at times it can sound a bit questionable, voice-acting is a welcoming addition.

In terms of music, we were pleasantly surprised (like most of our experience with the game), and fell in love with the soft piano scores. Befitting of an open-world game, there’s of course the sound of all sorts of critters roaming around that add to the pleasant nature of the world. It goes to show just how much production value has been put into the game

Final thoughts

As of yet, Genshin Impact has yet to receive an update and has a ton of content to be added to its world. With new regions to be added along the way, it’s sure to keep gameplay fresh and give players something to come back to. The base game as it is gives a lot to explore and can be experienced individually or with friends. From our point of review, while Genshin Impact is not a perfect game yet, it’s still free-to-play and can offer hours of fun. 

What is your review of the game, Genshin Impact? Have you played it yet? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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