The Smash Hit ‘Genshin Impact’: Video Game Review

The new video game ‘Genshin Impact’ leaves an impression on the video game community.

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Rachel Koon

Liyue Harbor is one of the two major cities currently available in the game ‘Genshin Impact.’ Heavily influenced by Chinese architecture and landscapes, Liyue is very aesthetically pleasing.

Genshin Impact is the latest action role-playing game by the Chinese company miHoYo. Since its global release on September 28, 2020, the game has been a smash hit. The game boasts over seventeen million downloads on mobile devices, not including the number of downloads that have been made on PC and PlayStation 4. In just the first week of the game’s launch, Genshin Impact amassed over sixty million U.S. dollars in revenue, setting records for being the largest global launch of any Chinese game. And after playing the game regularly for the past two months, I can see why the game is so wildly popular. 

One of the selling points of this game would be that the game is completely free to play. Many skeptics may look at this statement and wonder the true extent to which the game is free; many games are promoted as free-to-play to rope in players only for players to find hidden fees needed to progress in the game. I was surprised to find that there was never a point when I was playing that I felt the need to make any in-game purchases. The game makes its money from its gacha system in which you can use primogems, one of the in-game currencies, to randomly receive characters and weapons of varying rarities. While the game does provide the option for the player to purchase the in-game currency with real money, players are able to earn primogems at a slower pace by completing various in-game tasks. Although it is nice to be able to have higher chances at new characters that come with in-game purchases, it is not at all necessary. The game is equally as enjoyable without spending a dime. A free-to-play player can do equally as well as any paying player, but it may take a little bit of luck when rolling for characters and weapons. 

Five-star (highest level of rarity) character Zhongli featured front and center on his dedicated event banner, allowing players to have the chance to unlock him as a playable character in ‘Genshin Impact.’ This banner ended on December 22nd, 2020, making way for the next event banner dedicated to the new five-star character Albedo. (Rachel Koon)

For a game that is free-to-play, Genshin Impact is incredibly well made. In the game, you follow the adventures of an inter-dimensional traveler stranded in a world after being separated from their twin by an unknown god. As you explore the seven nations of Teyvat alongside your small floating guide, Paimon, in search of your sibling, you complete story quests, meet characters, fight bosses, solve puzzles, and collect materials with which to craft and cook. Playing through the game, you can feel the amount of effort and detail the developers put into making it. 

Out of all the aspects of the game, the soundtrack stands out the most to me. The background music of the game changes according to where you are, and what you are doing in the game. You could be exploring the mountain ranges of Liyue with the peaceful sounds of the piano and the Erhu (Chinese violin) when you suddenly encounter an enemy and the music changes from soft and steady to the sound of urgent percussion and string instruments. Many pieces in the soundtrack are recorded live with the help of real orchestras and musicians such as the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Composer Yu-Peng Chen and the rest of the music production team were able to exemplify the mood that Mihoyo is trying to get across in each piece excellently. 

While the storyline is not incredibly unique, it is captivating, and the world is well thought out with so many little details that you can miss, if you are not looking closely. A lot of lore is told through books that can be found all over the world, and many NPCs have their own story that is revealed if you decide to stop and talk to them. Given that it is an open-world game, there is never a lack of places to explore. “Even after playing for the whole day, there is always something new to do,” said Justine Chen ’21. 

In addition, Genshin Impact has been praised for its character designs and visuals. “I love the game background and character designs; you can see the effort that miHoYo put into designing the natural environment of the game,” said Yong Jun Xie ’21. Each playable character is equipped with their own set of abilities and intricate outfit designs, based on their personality and backstory, which set them apart from one another. The landscaping of the game draws inspiration from real-life scenery from different regions of the world. Mondstat, the first nation that players visit in the game, draws inspiration from the rolling, forested hills and rivers of Germany. The name Mondstat itself means “moon city” in German, and the nation’s German roots are evident in the main city, where every building was made in the traditional German style. The second nation that players visit, and the only other nation that is currently available to players, is Liyue which gets its inspiration from the mountain ranges and port cities of China.

The gliding mechanism allows players to easily travel over long distances and to high places in the large open-world setting of ‘Genshin Impact.’ You can see the German-inspired environment as my character glides over the terrain. (Rachel Koon)

However, no success is without its controversies, and around the time when Genshin Impact first launched, the game was accused of being a clone of another extremely successful game: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both games are open-world action role-playing games that use game mechanics such as climbing, gliding, and exploring. On the surface level, the two games look almost identical, but are they actually? Since I have not personally played Breath of the Wild, I asked several students at Bronx Science who played both games for their opinions regarding this issue. 

“I would say that although they seem similar on the outside, they are completely different experiences! The first glaring thing is co-op on Genshin, but really just the fact that Genshin Impact is an online game already drastically changes the experience. The storyline of Genshin Impact is very linear, although it’s an open world like Breath of the Wild,” said Ria Cha ’21.

“I thought that the games would be very similar at first, but Genshin Impact is actually really different from Breath of the Wild, in a good way. Breath of the Wild is more focused on exploration but Genshin Impact feels more character-focused because of the gacha system,” said Kevin Cheng ’21. 

While the game has many things it has done well, like any other game, it is not perfect. In addition to complaints about a lack of content currently out for players who are higher adventure ranks, there are also complaints about certain game mechanics such as the resin system that is used, in order to collect materials that are used to level up characters and weapons. “It feels like there is nothing to do after adventure rank 40 besides finding chests and doing daily things. I also hope the resin system gets an update,” said Amelie Song ’21. But so far, miHoYo has been generally receptive to criticism from players, and there is hope for updates and improvements to be made to the game in the near future. 

In general, Genshin Impact is a great game that anybody can enjoy, whether it is a casual gamer or someone who has only ever played mobile games before. After all, the game is free. What is there to lose in playing it? 

“Even after playing for the whole day, there is always something new to do,” said Justine Chen ’21. 

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