App Review: “Genshin Impact”

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Platform: iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch

Price: free with optional in-app purchases

When developers miHoYo showed off gameplay trailers of their now finally released “Genshin Impact,” it was criticized by many for looking like a copycat of one of the best open world video games in recent memory: Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Now that it’s out in the world, that criticism is, well, mostly valid but not as bad as it may have seemed at first. While “Genshin Impact” contains a lot of the signature mechanics of “Breath of the Wild,” the former does play at times more like a JRPG gacha game than an open-world adventure. 

Plotwise, “Genshin Impact,” takes a simpler approach than many role-playing games. You take the role of a main character, whose gender you decide, who is traveling between worlds looking for their lost sibling. Along the way, you travel through many beautifully cell-shaded fantasy worlds while collecting companions to fight alongside you and treasure to increase your strength. 

Though “Genshin Impact” goes a pretty long way to fulfilling the promise of bringing a full-length role-playing game to mobile platforms, it’s easy to forget that it is, at heart, a gacha game; while the game is a free download, the developers have added many ways that you can spend real money to enhance your play experience, usually through using a ‘slot-machine’ type of mechanic in the hopes of getting better in-game stuff.

In all, “Genshin Impact” is a beautiful, involving, role-playing game, and while gacha mechanics might frustrate many players, it is certainly a treat to play for its positive aspects. 

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