Genshin Impact, an action role-playing game (RPG) created by MiHoYo, has taken the world by storm since its release on 28 September 2020. As a non-gamer myself, I wasn’t the least bit interested. However, things changed when I saw many of my friends playing the game and curiosity got the better of me. In July 2021, I finally stepped foot into the magical world of Teyvat.
The premise and my initial impressions
The game begins with a cutscene. A pair of twins traveling across different universes stop in Teyvat—the land in which Genshin Impact is set. They are confronted by an unknown god. Players are then asked to choose to play as either the male or female twin (I chose the female!). The twin the player chooses is sealed up by the unknown god. The game begins 500 years later when this twin awakens and sets off on a journey to find their sibling.
As I played through the tutorial, I was very impressed by the game design. Each blade of grass was animated to sway in the wind, and the characters moved so naturally and artistically. Even the sounds of footsteps changed depending on the surface the character was walking on. I was utterly blown away. Little did I know that the tutorial was just a taste of what was to come.
My amazement continued to grow as I traveled across Teyvat. Teyvat consists of seven fictional nations: Mondstadt, Liyue, Inazuma, Sumeru, Fontaine, Natlan, and Snezhnaya. As of writing, only the first three nations have been released. The developers did an amazing job in setting the mood of each location. Mondstadt is inspired by Germany, and this is reflected in the European architecture and clothing of the non-playable characters in the city. Similarly, lanterns line the street of Liyue, which has a likeness to China. In Inazuma, you can find a Japanese shrine and even get an omikuji (Japanese fortune-telling strip).
The music also accompanies each setting fantastically. In fact, I would say the soundtracks are one of the best aspects of the game. Each piece is very well-composed, and the choice of melodies and instruments used perfectly complement the game’s visuals.
Characters and the gacha system
Players can obtain new characters through Genshin Impact’s gacha mechanic. Adapted from real-life gacha toy machines in Japan, players spend in-game currency to ‘roll’ for a random character. However, as this operates like a lucky draw system, players are not guaranteed to obtain their desired character. This has proved to be rather frustrating for me, especially since I am not willing to pay money for extra ‘rolls’.
Nonetheless, the characters are extremely well designed, each with their unique battle animations, skills, voice lines, and detailed clothing. As each character has its own special playstyle, there is definitely something that will suit everyone’s tastes.
The overarching storyline is fantasy-based with a tinge of mystery. I’m not really a fan of the fantasy genre, even in books and movies because they can sometimes be difficult to follow. The same can be said about Genshin Impact. There are many characters and new vocabulary you need to learn to understand the story well. The writing also tends to fluctuate a lot—from poorly written and overly lengthy conversations to very well-thought-out and meaningful plots. Overall, despite my lack of interest in fantasy stories, I’m still quite curious to know how the story will end.
After about seven months of playing, I’ve finished most of the game’s content and can be considered an ‘endgame player’. At this stage, there is nothing much to do in the game aside from daily commissions (quests that refresh every day), limited-time events, and farming for items to level up your characters. This gets boring quickly and the game has inevitably lost the magic it once held when I first played it. While it’s unfortunate, the developers cannot be expected to push out new content so quickly.
Overall, even as a non-gamer, Genshin Impact was quite easy to pick up and I’ve found great joy in playing it. I’m really glad I decided to jump on the bandwagon to play my first RPG on that fateful day in July. Through this experience, I truly got to understand why people enjoy playing games so much. For just a moment, I can leave the worries of the real world behind. And even on my loneliest days, I no longer feel so alone. As the saying goes, “In Teyvat, the stars in the sky will always have a place for you.”