Breath of the Elements.

Title: Genshin Impact
Platform: PC, iOS, Andriod, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Developer: miHoYo
Publisher: miHoYo
Release date: Out now.
Nintendo Switch: TBA
Tl;dr: A gacha game that’s worth playing thanks it’s incredible battle system and gripping narrative.
Price: Free to play
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the grand departure from traditional Zelda games as it flipped the script on the linear game design of doing these dungeons in a specific order to a massive open Hyrule where you can complete dungeons in any order. Many people praised the new direction Zelda was taking, which can entice other developers to take inspiration from. Genshin Impact seemed like one of those games as a lot of people refer to the game as a Breath of the Wild clone, myself included until I got my hands on it and realized it is so much more than that.

The story of Genshin Impact starts with a brother and sister trying to find their way back home when a God stands in the way and requires players to decide whether you want to play as the brother or sister. Once it has been decided, the player is taken by God and dropped into the world of Genshin Impact with one goal: find your sibling. Several months after your arrival, your character has made friends with a mysterious childlike girl named Paimon, she can float and has an irritating voice that eventually you just get used to… She is basically this game’s equivalent of Zelda’s Navi/Midna. As you set off to continue your adventure to find your sibling, you’Ll come across many faces along the way and as hero stuff goes, you get caught up in the affairs of others and aid them as best you can.

Genshin Impact is an open world free to play anime RPG with the typical gacha based system you’ll find in most free to play titles. For those who don’t know what gacha is, it’s the machines you stick in 20p and then you spin the dial and get a random toy in return; it’s really popular in Japan and known as Gachapon. Essentially in Genshin Impact, you spend your in-game currency, earned in-game or via microtransactions, to roll on the chance to get weapons or extra characters that don’t play a role in the story. Now you’re probably asking yourself, ‘why would I want extra characters?’ Well, in Genshin Impact you have a party of four that you can be switched on the fly with the directional buttons on PS4 to create all sorts of wild combos as each character is assigned an element. Let me explain.

Each character is assigned an element so let’s use the base characters from the opening segment of the game as an example. You have the main protagonist who has control of the wind element, Amber imbues her bow with fire, Kaeya has the cold touch of ice and Lisa controls the devastating power of lightning. Each of these elements can be brought together to wipe the floor with the monsters that await you. For example, say it’s raining and your opponents are drenched, you can use Kaeya to freeze them with ease then switch to Lisa to electrocute them or switch Amber and shoot them with fire to burn them with steam then change to the protagonist to fan the embers of their charred skin to ignite them and finish them off. In fact, most of the time, I like to find a camp full of goblins, drop-in, blow the flames of their campfire, and killing them in a way that would make Sephiroth proud. There are more elements such as water and earth but I am yet to obtain party members that master those elements.

Genshin Impact also has co-op which unfortunately doesn’t unlock until you reach adventurer rank 16, which is not to be confused with your characters level. Adventurer rank is increased by completing quests, exploring the world, opening chests, solving puzzles whilst character level is through questing, and the general slaying of monsters. Back to co-op, you can play with up to three players across all platforms thanks to crossplay. With these friends or randoms you can tackle dungeons, bosses either in dungeons or world bosses, however, only the host can open chests or pick up collectibles on the overworld to prevent the host from losing those unique items in their world. I haven’t managed to play a lot of co-op as my friends have yet to make it to adventurer rank 16 even though it doesn’t take that long. I have managed to play with a few random adventurers and the online is pretty stable and didn’t experience any issues.

Now, I need to talk about something that I know a lot of people are getting sick of and that is the fact once you reach adventurer rank 20: an unlockable battle pass. However, I’m not too fussed as I’ve never really played games that have them. Along with Fall Guys, this is my only experience of one, and Genshin Impact’s pass seems pretty simple by completing tasks from the battle pass such as logging in, cooking meals or killing 50 enemies but in an open-world game with dungeons this is easier than drawing breath. However, you don’t even need to ever interact with the battle pass past the tutorial on it so if it bothers you that much it is something that can be easily ignored.

Overall Genshin Impact is an incredible game, especially as a free-to-play title. The narrative is gripping once it gets past the introductions, the world is vast and full of surprises, combat is intuitive and extremely rewarding when performing the elemental combos with such finesse and graphically the game looks stunning; similar to an anime. Everyone, whether they enjoyed Breath of the Wild or not, should give this game a try as it does some things exactly like Breath of the Wild whilst improving some things that I personally didn’t like, and with the game being free to play you have no excuse to not give this game a try.

The Good

  • A gripping narrative that pits you against the forces of evil all whilst trying to find you sibling.
  • A great cast of characters with unique personalities and skills that make story and combat incredible.
  • A massive open world for you to explore and get lost in.

The Bad

  • Occasional frame rate drops.
  • Inclusion of a battle pass may upset people.

Family Focus

Genshin Impact is rated PEGI 12 and T for Teen by the ESRB. Typical shonen anime levels of violence.

This review is based on the PlayStation Store download for the purpose of review.