Genshin Impact is light on story and big on exploration, encouraging players to peek under every rock, glide from every precipice, and bash through every camp of goblins. This free-to-play, open-world action/RPG is an incredible amalgamation of stylish art and sound, easy-to-learn combat, and magical adventure around every corner. As you climb the highest peaks, take on titanic bosses, and spare moments of tranquility to take in the scenery, you are inundated with dozens of possibilities. Plenty of games serve up unending tasks, but Genshin Impact provides a sense of unyielding enchantment and desire that I rarely ever feel.
I’d put Genshin Impact down to head to bed, close my eyes, and find myself back playing moments later. The gameplay loop of collection, upgrading, and customization is captivating and compelling. Genshin Impact is an unending ball of adventurous yarn; pulling on any minute-long thread can lead you in unexpected directions for hours. Perhaps you’re on a major story quest but see a chest in the distance, which leads to following a mysterious spirit down a cliffside and unearthing a rare cooking recipe. By the time all is said and done, time has evaporated and you forgot why you were even in the area in the first place. That’s okay, though, because you solved a crane puzzle that sent you soaring through the mountainous air, rescued some travelers trapped in amber, and fought a lumbering mech for some spiffy new loot. The main quest is always there, but it’s a struggle to stay focused on it as you run, glide, and climb. This world is an unparalleled beauty that hypnotizes and enthralls.
Dialogue and story are the weakest parts of the experience. It’s completely okay to skip through most of the perfunctory conversation as you hit the core quest chains to unlock certain areas and boss encounters. The real story here is created by your journey as you move from area to area. From rummaging through a field of carrots for food to accidentally wandering into a high-level encounter because the surrounding environment looked interesting, I never felt that tasks became rote. The gameplay can get grindy around 30 hours in, but is it really a grind if it still feels great?
You control a party of four characters, with one on the field at a time. Combat begins simple, with each character having a few different attacks, an elemental skill, and an ultimate elemental attack. Swapping out characters is an instant push of a button, which creates a more dynamic and interesting combat system than basic button mashing. Using a water character to soak enemies and then quickly swapping to a lighting character to electrocute everyone is an effective use of elemental synergy, with more difficult encounters and time trials becoming hotbeds to try all sorts of elemental alchemy. In a fight with multiple minibosses present and a clock staring you down, it takes careful strategy to time your elements for maximum effect.
Genshin Impact delivers an enthralling world.
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