No one’s going to deny that video games these days are an absolute luxury to own. They’re expensive, they’re riddled with microtransactions, and most of the time the price to admission feels far too steep for the offer on tap. There are of course alternatives out there: Indie games like Hades have proven to be face-meltingly good content at a fraction of the price that a AAA game demands, while the other age-old technique of being patient will eventually see a new release drop down significantly in cost.
Then there are the freemium games out there. For your lack of money, the likes of Destiny 2 are superb sandboxes to invest time in, its only real grab for cash being its season pass and annual expansion. Warframe’s also bloody brilliant, Fortnite’s going nowhere and Apex Legends continues to carry the flag on the battle royale gravy train.
There’s another genre of gaming out there, that I’m an absolute sucker for: Gacha games. I’ve waxed lyrical before about my love for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Marvels Strikeforce, so imagine my joy when I booted up a game this week that combines the drive to get rare characters with a Breath of the Wild gameplay model.
Genshin Impact is that game. It’s as anime as can be, looks strikingly similar to Nintendo’s smash-hit Zelda game and also comes loaded with Gacha mechanics bullcrap. Heavens help me, I’m starting to feel hooked. You’re able to run around a gorgeously detailed world, climb the shit out of stuff and wonder why you’ve got the stamina of an asthmatic coma patient when you first start out.
You can also cook stat-boosting recipes, fight definitely-not-Bokoblins, and get bothered by your own personal Na’vi some a horrible fairy creature who talks in the third person. There’s no denying that Genshin Impact has been plenty inspired by Breath of the Wild, but only focusing on those elements does the actual game a disservice.
For starters, the combat is brilliant stuff, dynamic action without having to worry about your weapons snapping in half mid-thrust. If you needed a solid comparison, think the action and RPG elements of Eternal Sonata or Tales of Arise. You’ve got four characters in your party, you can switch between them instantly and deliver a combo of swords ‘n sorcery into the face of anything that dares get in your way. Combined with short dungeons and some areas being gated off by a high level requirement, Genshin Impact scratches an itch for quick and rewarding gameplay jaunts.
In-game currency and experience boosts are easy enough to come by if you enjoy a good ol’ JRPG grind, but of course a game as ambitious as this has to make some money back for its studio. To do just that, Genshin Impact’s carrot at the end of a rare-quality stick is its currency of Wishes. Log in every day, and you’ll get in-game coin to spend on acquiring these wishes which in turn will reward you with new characters, weapons or more cash to flash.
It’s an addictive loop of always wanting better stuff, an eternal slot machine where you pray to RNGesus with every pull of the one-armed bandit. You can of course drop real currency into the pot to get a collection of wishes and instant gratification and a better chance at five-star drops. I do want to support developer miHiYo for their grand effort down the line, but the truth is that they’ve gone and made such a good core game, that I don’t feel tempted yet to indulge in some microtransactions.
Do you have to buy a R200 adventurer pack or spend R2000 on a mountain of Genesis Crystals? Nope! Are you going to feel tempted to do so if you’re an impatient fella? Probably, because Genshin Impact has some deep hooks! For what it’s worth though, the current product is one of the biggest surprises of the year: Gorgeous, addictive and surprisingly well-crafted.
Whether you want to spend coin on it or not is up to you, but at the very least it’s well worth a quick download and spending a few hours in the land of Teyvat.
Last Updated: October 1, 2020