As the world around us continues to plunge into a mess and more individuals are (unfortunately) being laid off, finances can become tight. It’s always important to have a stash of relatively cheap or free titles to pass the time and, fortunately, developer miHoYo has managed to deliver some solid hack-and-slash action with Honkai Impact 3 under a “free to play” model. Previously released on mobile devices in China back in 2016, this title has crossed the shores and has even managed to get a PC release with full controller support.
Honkai Impact 3 is set in a twisted alternate version of Earth. It puts the player in charge of Kiana Kaslana, whose aim is to lead her fellow Valkyries in a battle against formidable beasts known as Honkai.
From the get-go, it’s clear that the production value of this game is a step above that of your ordinary “free-to-play” title. I for one am a huge fan of cel-shaded visuals- this sort of art direction is what attracted me to titles such as Sly Cooper, Okami, and the Gravity Rush series. miHoYo has managed to pull this style off in a mobile environment with a stable frame-rate, and that’s definitely worth applause.
The gameplay is similar to a traditional hack-and-slash/beat ’em up title with a heavy dose of RPG elements and unique systems to learn. The combat side of things is relatively easy to understand- you’ve got your basic attacks, “ultimate attacks”, and special moves such as side-stepping to evade attacks. Being able to evade proficiently is crucial, as the right timing will trigger a unique mechanic known as a “Time Fracture”. Triggering a time fracture will allow our heroine to slow time down to a crawl, allowing her to open a serious can of whoop-ass and rack up some serious combos. Later in the story, you’ll gain two partners who will need to be used strategically to keep one step ahead of the Honkai. The combat and distinct mechanics work well enough together for a F2P game, although I do prefer the freedom of a physical controller (PC version) against having to fiddle with the virtual directional pad on mobile.
While pleasant to play in short bursts, I have some issues that are commonplace with the free to play model. First and foremost, you will have to open your wallet in order to actually complete the game. Whereas it’s technically possible (albeit incredibly grindy) to complete other free PvE (player vs enemy) mobile games without shelling out money…there’s no such luck here as the weapons and supplies you’ll need to beat Honkai Impact 3rd are locked away behind a paywall. This will also pose a problem in the future as, at some point, the option of making in-game purchases could very well be removed. Second, the game has a massive 900+ MB download size. Of course, it’s not a problem if you’re playing the game on PC, but I imagine that this could pose a problem for mobile players with less spacious devices.
All said and done Honkai Impact 3rd is a great title to play in short bursts that is hampered by an infamous model. Here’s to hoping that miHiYo will offer a paid version of the game that axes the free-to-play structure, as this game deserves it. Between the enjoyable content and stellar presentation, it has enough going for it to make for a solid budget game on digital storefronts.