Gaming, Review

Honkai: Star Rail CBT Review: Another (Extremely) Promising Game From Hoyoverse

Honkai: Star Rail is the latest addition to Hoyoverse’s Honkai series, and it is the company’s next game after the huge success of Genshin Impact. Hoyoverse was kind enough to provide Nextrift access to the closed beta test of the turn-based RPG, and after spending some time with the game, I absolutely cannot wait for its release.

Not only does Star Rail offer a compelling, engrossing storyline with excellent worldbuilding – something Hoyoverse did very well in Genshin impact – it also offers a fun gameplay and amazing character development. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this new game can be just as successful as Genshin Impact.

Suffice to say Star Rail is a very, very promising title, and you should definitely check it out once Hoyoverse is ready to release it to the public.

What It Is

Truth be told, I’m not familiar with the Honkai franchise, so Star Rail is my first foray into the world of Honkai. Despite that, I don’t feel lost at all in the game. Evidently, Hoyoverse is targeting both new and existing Honkai players with Star Rail.

Unlike Honkai Impact 3rd, Star Rail is a turn-based RPG where players fight in a party of four. The game also have dungeon exploration, puzzle-solving, and even flashy animations as characters unleash their respective ultimates.

Not surprisingly, many elements of Genshin Impact can be seen in Star Rail. Each character, for example, have their own level progression with Traces (Talents in Genshin) to develop. There are also different “weapons” for characters to wield, though they are dubbed Light Cones in Star Rail.

If you’re familiar with Genshin Impact, you can certainly grasp the different elements of Star Rail quite easily. Oh, there is at least one distinct difference though: elemental elements in this game don’t interact the same way in Genshin Impact.

The Good Stuff

I love playing a game with a good story to tell, and boy, does Honkai: Star Rail have a fantastic narrative. I’m drawn in to the worldbuilding of the game, the plot is engaging, all the different characters are fleshed out very well, and I’m excited to progress the story as much as I can throughout the closed beta test.

Storytelling really is one of Hoyoverse’s strong suits, and Star Rail is a perfect showcase of this. It’s unfortunate then that I can’t really experience the full story – more on this further down this review.

Let’s get back to Star Rail’s characters. Each one of them, as mentioned, have their own unique personalities and character development. Paired with the game’s great voice acting – yes, even the English option is good – you’ve got an excellent cast of characters to…well, try and get. After all, this is still a gacha game.

As for how generous the in-game currency of Star Rail is to obtain characters – dubbed Stellar Jade instead of Primogem – I don’t think the closed beta test is reflective of this. I did manage to accumulate a fair number of Stellar Jade in a relatively short period of time, but there’s a chance this will be tweaked in the final version of the game.

Gameplay wise, the turn-based system of Star Rail is quite easy to get into. Each character have three distinct moves: a basic attack, a skill, and an ultimate. While choosing to attack or using a skill takes up a turn, ultimate moves (once charged up) can be performed whenever the enemy isn’t attacking. Simple enough, right?

As with most turn-based combat systems, it can feel a little repetitive and grindy as you engage more and more enemies. Well, combat can actually be sped up in Star Rail; there’s even an auto-battle feature to simplify the process even more.

However, there are a few instances where the auto-battle feature cannot be used, such as boss fights, understandably.

Lastly, I’m happy to report that Star Rail is not too demanding to run. My Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with an RTX 2060 can run the game without issue at 1440p with the frame rate set to 60fps. I also played the game on a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with maxed out graphics settings at 60fps. While there are some stuttering, the game still runs smoothly.

In comparison to, say, Genshin Impact, Star Rail doesn’t feel quite as graphically intensive – that’s a good thing, in my opinion.

The Bad Stuff

As much as I enjoyed playing Honkai: Star Rail, it does have some shortcomings here and there. The storyline, while engrossing, can feel a tad too tedious to get through sometimes. For example, I don’t like the fact that some dialogues cannot be skipped even though I’ve already finished reading them.

And then there are the slew of terms that are thrown around throughout the story of Star Rail, which can feel quite overwhelming. While the worldbuilding in this game is impressive, it can also get a bit…confusing.

Aside from that, I have one more qualm with the story aspect of Star Rail: progression is unfortunately locked behind player level, just like how it is in Genshin Impact. I was really getting into the story of the game when I encountered this, much to my dismay.

I’m also not a fan of Star Rail’s map interface. Compared to Genshin Impact’s one large map for different regions, each area in this game is divided into different sections, which can get quite complicated to navigate.

Is It Worth It?

Absolutely! Honkai: Star Rail has all the makings of a great game. It has an engrossing storyline, solid, fun gameplay, excellent character development, and a world that’s filled to the brim with lore – sometimes a bit too much lore.

Even if turn-based RPGs are not your thing, I’d still recommend giving Star Rail a try once Hoyoverse releases the game. Hopefully, it won’t be long until that happens, given that the closed beta test is ending tomorrow on 15 June.

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