My first memory of miHoYo’s Genshin Impact (Free) is it being shown off at a gaming expo and, due to how much it resembled Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, seeing a crowd of people storm its booth holding their Nintendo Switches in the air decrying the similarities between the two games. Those people weren’t wrong. There is no way you can look at Genshin Impact, both its overall visual style and many of its specific mechanics, and not think of Breath of the Wild. However, if you’re able to put that aside, there’s also no denying that Genshin Impact offers the largest, deepest, most fully-featured open-world adventure that’s ever been available on mobile.
My “wow" moment with Genshin Impact came very early on as the game was playing its introductory cutscenes. It sets up the story, introduces some characters, and the whole thing is like watching a high-quality anime. After a few minutes though everything just sort of stops and, what I didn’t immediately realize is that the game had actually started. It was time to start controlling my character. I thought that I was still in these gorgeous hand-crafted cutscenes but in reality that’s just how the entire game looks! This really is in my opinion the most visually impressive game that’s ever graced a mobile touchscreen.
Genshin Impact isn’t all about the looks though. The list of activities you can do and mechanics that are built in the game is a mile long, far too long to fully cover here. Yes, a lot of it is built off of the back of Breath of the Wild, like your ability to go literally anywhere you can see, climb any surface, glide through the air by jumping off high points, and so much more. But the more you play the more Genshin Impact reveals its own unique spins on the formula, and while it’ll never fully shake its similarities to Nintendo’s masterpiece, I do appreciate that it tries to differentiate itself in a lot of ways.
All I can really say is that you have to try Genshin Impact for yourself. It’s free to play so there’s no reason not to, except maybe if you’re lacking in storage space on your device. The initial download is a little over 2GB and with that you’ll be able to play through a lengthy demo-like portion of the game, but if you want to continue on you’ll need to download another 4GB or so. It’s a whopper. But I think it’s really worth at least experiencing that demo portion, as like I said there’s really nothing on mobile at this kind of scope and it truly is jaw-dropping at every turn. The free to play stuff seems manageable, mostly built around gacha character collection and upgrading, but it doesn’t appear there’s anything that will prevent you from just playing through the whole game for free. Just give it a shot, as I think that once the dust settles Genshin Impact will go down as being a landmark release for the mobile platform.