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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (495)

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Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5

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Honkai: Star Rail   PC 

Grind the Rail    3.5/5 stars

miHoYo, otherwise known as HoYoverse, made their name in a big way with the release of Genshin Impact in 2020. Part open-world RPG, part gatcha, part game-as-a-service - taken together as a whole, it became a worldwide hit that is still going strong today. But why have just one game when you can have more? Since I missed out on the bus and didn't feel like jumping in halfway, I thought I would give Honkai: Star Rail a try - it uses the same model but in a more sci-fi setting. The game (like Genshin) is free-to-play and has plenty of content to keep you going. But, of course, their money comes from hoping you drop it on premium currency for limited-time (and stronger) characters, as well as pumping yourself up with daily, weekly and monthly boosts.

Looks and Stuff: As with Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail is anime-styled with a mixture of cute, sexy (both for the guys and gals) and weird. It does a good job of taking you to different locales - from a typical futuristic space station to a half-frozen / half-underground world to a massive colony ship with environmentally-friendly aesthetics. Characters run the gamut from overly peppy to inscrutably serious - slackers, generals, rock stars, hackers, mercenaries, healers - take your pick (or hope RNGesus is in your favor). The voices are exceptional and varied - with a wide cast of heavyweights in the voice-over world (but not many most people would recognize). Music is also done well (even if you'll here it A LOT) and the game runs smooth over PC - but you can play it on console or your phone if you like.

Story: Holy deep lore, Batman, I can't even. For a free-to-play gatcha game, the game has an incredibly complicated story: Aeons are all-powerful, god-like entities - but ones that can be destroyed - and certain groups follow them on their Paths. The Star Rail followed by the Astral Express, is a relic of a dead Aeon Akivili - whose followers choose the Path of Trailblaze - that is exploration and connection with worlds upon worlds, often solving conflicts as they do. Aeons can be in conflict with one another, the Aeon Yaoshi seeks eternal life and followers of the Path of Abundance will do anything to reach it - even if that immortal life turns out to be something monstrous and destructive - thus the Aeon Lan and The Path of the Hunt seek to destroy all who walk that path. Nanook - The Path of Destruction - seeks to simply end all life and in that course develops Stellerons - known as the Cancer of Worlds - to help along the way. When the game begins you learn that the main character (male or female) holds a Stelleron within them - leading to the potential for great power - but also great destruction. You begin on Huerta Space Station with no memory - as the Antimatter Legion, agents of Destruction, launch an attack. The Astral Express happens to be docked and you are joined by March 7th and Dan Heng to fight against the Antimatter Legion. Successful in your mission, you decide to join the Astral Express on their mission to track down any remaining Stelleron.

The game then leads you several planets where you will meet a wide variety of people - as well as learning about your new ship-mates - and going into detail would make this review 10 times longer. Go play or read a wiki - there is a LOT to explore and the game doesn't skimp on detail, that's for sure.

Gameplay: While the game does have an open-world aspect, battles themselves are turn-based and follow a fairly typical element system (fire, ice, air, quantum, physical) where you have to balance out your party based on who you face. As a gatcha game, you get plenty to choose from, though a good healer is also key as well as heavy hitters if you want to face the game beyond the story and take on challenges. But you don't just get characters, you get equipment (known as Relics) as well as Light Cones - and this is where the grind can get you. Light Cones are equivalent to weapons in Genshin - in order to level one up you need the same Light Cone - and, of course, the rare ones (usually unique to a specific character) are harder to get/level. Likewise, the best relics can only be obtained from higher level activities and getting the perfect one (much like guns in say Destiny 2) will take a lot of time.

That being said, you can get plenty our of staying F2P - the game gives out enough rewards that you can build up the premium currently fairly easily. Warp pulls (those that give you the event characters or Light Cones) are common enough that I never felt the need to pay for more. Granted, like Light Cones, characters can also only rank up when you get extra copies, so if you want the best of the best - good luck. The game encourages login daily, of course, or at least a few times a week with plenty of tasks - from the mundane to the more advanced. Monthly events were ongoing while I played - and the rewards were nice but you really did have to put in the time and effort to complete them - on top of just doing stuff to level up. Like any live service type game, that's where they get you to come back - side quests, bounties, login bonuses and the all-consuming grind - but wrapped up in a wholly pleasant package.

Replay value: Honkai: Star Rail isn't a game you start over - it's a game you play... forever (or until they shut it down). I mean, technically you could get kicked for technical or cheating reasons and have to start over, but considering how much there is... I wouldn't want to start over from scratch because as fun as things can be - it is also a grind too.

Final Verdict: I'll give it to those sneaky Chinese - they sure know how to draw you into a never-ending cycle of high risk gatcha with actually pretty fun game play. If I hadn't run out of things to do before they expanded, I would probably still be playing and it's tempting to jump back in - it I didn't have so much backlog to contend with.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Replay: N/A
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5



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