Honkai: Star Rail — Is It A Better Genshin Impact?

It has been almost a month since the worldwide release of HoYoverse’s latest masterpiece, Honkai: Star Rail (HSR). I have played the game so extensively that I finished all the story quests, Simulation World 6 and Forgotten Halls 11, so when I say I played it with such obsession, you better believe it. I am still playing the game daily to maximise my Trailblaze Power (Resin) to level my characters, Light Cones and Artifact farming but I do wish there was more to do. And yes, I finished all puzzles and side quests as well.

I do have to say that I love turn-based games, since it’s the genre that I played the most since I was a child. Games like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and other turn-based games were my jam. I may be a little biased with this review but do read with a light drizzle of salt, just in case.

What Is Honkai: Star Rail?

The story follows you the MC aboard the Astral Train as trailblazers travelling from planet to planet saving worlds from a space cancer called Stellaron. As you embark on your journey, you meet a variety of characters, face obstacles and do a lot of ass-whooping. HSR is a turn-based game from HoYoverse akin to their worldwide famed title, Genshin Impact. There are many game designs, user interface designs, as well as character designs that you may find similarities with, but with turn-based mechanics instead of real-time action.

Like Genshin, the player may choose the gender of their Main Character (“MC”) to be male or female, each with their own design and animations. The player is also introduced to a few free-to-play characters. In this case, March 7 and Dan Heng are the titular crew of the Astral Express, as well as others that you get either from the pre-registration of the game or from playing the game further.

The battle system, unlike Genshin, is a turn-based system where the character with the highest speed goes first while the slowest goes last. You can field up to 4 characters and each characters has a Basic Attack, Skill, and Ultimate that you can activate to battle enemies. Each character also has their own Talent which is a passive that activates during battle, and a Technique which can be activated while exploring.

Each character also has their own Elements and Classes, for instance the MC starts off as a Physical element with the Destruction class. Everything else, other than the battle system, is very similar to Genshin Impact, including the Gear (Artifact) System, the levelling system, the Light Cones (Weapon) System is akin to HoYoverse’s previous game.

So, what do I like about Honkai: Star Rail?

As I have mentioned, I love turn-based games and HSR is a combination of the old Suikoden and the new Persona system. You are able to collect a variety of characters that you can meet on your homebase, the Astral Train, and interact with them to get to know them better. The battle system is reminiscence of Persona’s weakness system where hitting the opponent’s system will give you advantages like Damage Over Time or delay in the enemy’s action. It also reminds me of Chrono Cross’ stamina system where you get 5 skill points and each use of skills depletes a skill point, while normal attacks earn a skill point.

This weakness and skill points management system keeps you on your toes as you navigate each battle that gets harder and harder with each new bit of content. There is an art to balancing and timing when you use skills, as depleting your skill points too quickly means you might not get to heal or break a weakness. There is also consideration of timing in using Ultimates, as they are queued up instantly when used. You can do this tactically to break weaknesses or to deal more damage.

There is also a lot of quality of life that is present here that’s unfortunately not available in Genshin, like the Gear (Artifact) synthesizer that lets you choose Main Stats that you want so you do not have to farm as much. The loading time is also shortened from one teleporter to another if its within the same map, thus saving so much time. Furthermore, each farming location from bosses to materials and experience, each of them has its own teleporter.

Although there is not much to say about the story of the game, I do appreciate being able to interact with if not all of the characters that I have pulled, almost all that I have met up to the current story. This is unlike Genshin where I play with all these characters, but the only interactions I have with them are during events. I do also have a soft spot for sci-fi stories, growing up Star Wars, Lost in Space and other space movies, thus I love the theme and story of HSR.

The best thing about the game is the Simulated Universe feature which is a rogue-like system in-game that not only allows you to test out your team compositions, but also to farm certain Gear. Since it’s a rogue-like, you get more power ups with each run. Not to mention, using the powers of Aeons ties into the story of the game. The system is free to do without costing any Trailblazer Power, so you can run it as much as you want while collecting the Gears using Trailblazer Power when you have any available. Simulated Universe gives me something to do when I have nothing else to do in the game, but still want to play it.

What don’t I like about Honkai: Star Rail?

First and foremost, although there is a lot to do in the game, there isn’t enough at this point. The overall story might take you a week to finish at a decent pace and ends on a cliff-hanger at the second planet. Even the side stories and side quests would take you around another day or two to finish them. Although there are a variety of them, they mostly consist of fetch quests with interwoven stories in between to slow down the pace of the quests. Thus, although there seems like there is a lot to do, none of it has much substance other than the main story quests.

The next thing I don’t like and I miss in Genshin, is the ability to explore the world. Unlike in Genshin where it is an open world and you can climb, swim, jump and glide throughout the world of Teyvat, HSR’s world and maps are more linear with only a few deviating paths. The discovery of new chests and new secrets in Genshin gives the feeling of visiting another world which is sorely missing in HSR. Even the puzzles in HSR are simple, easily understood and solvable within minutes of doing them.

This lack of exploration is made worst by the fact that progression of the story quest is locked at certain Account Levels which is a grind to increase. In Genshin, exploring the world give you experience that boosts your Account Level, be it unlocking new areas of the map, finding treasure chests (which there are a ton of), and doing the various amounts of sub-quests and more. In HSR going from map to map doesn’t earn you any experience and there is only a few treasure chests that can be found in a map, so the only way to grind Account Levels are to wait for the daily quests or use Trailblazer Power farming materials.

Final Thoughts

Overall, as you can tell by my biased review, I love the game and can’t wait for even more content, be it the main story or events that they have planned. I am even excited to pull some of the upcoming banners (like everyone’s favourite waifu, Kafka). It has so much going on that makes it a great turn-based gacha game that I don’t mind closing one eye to its lacking features. All in all, I give it 9 pies out of 10.

What are your thoughts on Honkai: Star Rail so far? Share with us in the comments below! For more news and content like this, follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and TikTok.

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