GAME REVIEW: Honkai: Star Rail

Developer: HoYoverse
Publisher: HoYoverse
Release Date: April 26, 2023
Platforms: IOS, Android, and PC
Price: Free
Reviewed On: IOS and PC 

I’ve been a huge fan of HoYoverse’s Genshin Impact, but the company’s other game Honkai: Star Rail never intrigued me when I heard about its development. I already had plenty of games on my plate that I was making my way through, so I wasn’t keeping up with any updates about this game. However, I saw some footage of it the day of the release and quickly found myself attached to the characters. Knowing HoYoverse made it and instantly liking both the story and characters pushed me to review this game. 

A quick warning before I delve into this review. This game is being updated, presumably, for the next few years, and thus, the content is not completely fleshed out. Furthermore, since the game is in its first patch, much of the content is introductory gameplay and has a smaller pool of playable characters compared to HoYoverse’s other games. I wrote this review before the second half of the 1.0 update, meaning any new content that came out in the second half of the patch, I did not have the chance to play through, although I’ve caught up as far as I could in the first half. 

  1. Plot Synopsis
  2. Analysis
    1. Combat
    2. Gacha System
    3. Gameplay
    4. Performance
    5. Sound
  3. Final Score

Plot Synopsis

Players are introduced to a mysterious woman named Kafka and her companion Silver Wolf, who have infiltrated the Herta Space Station in search of what they call the Stellaron. Once finding the Stellaron, they somehow create a new body that houses it, which becomes the main character otherwise known as the player. 

The only thing told to the player is they are headed for a long journey filled with many companions that, at its end, will culminate in one final decision the player must make. From then on, players are left on their own only to be found by two passengers of the Astral Express: March 7th and Dan Heng. Players follow along on their passage on the Astral Express in search of answers and start their journey. 



Honkai: Stair Rail is a futuristic, turn-based combat game. Despite being a turn-based game, its combat is quite diverse. It includes seven elements (Physical, Ice, Wind, Fire, Lightening, Quantum, and Imaginary) and seven classes (Destruction, Preservation, Hunt, Harmony, Erudition, Abundance, and Nihility). All characters wield different combinations of elements and classes that, in turn, make team compositions more diverse and fighting enemies more difficult. Each element has its own effect on enemies, and each class has a different role to play in team compositions whether it be healers, buffers, or damage dealers. From my own experience with turn-based combat games, this combat system feels new and refreshing. 

Gacha System

Alongside the turn-based combat, Honkai: Star Rail is also a gacha game, meaning players must pull for characters and even weapons, or lightcones as they’re known as in this game. Players accumulate Stellar Jades in order to pull on character and lightcone banners that have their own pity system and guarantee systems to even out the odds for players.

Honkai: Star Rail‘s Standard Banner (Image Credit: HoYoverse)

These banners come out in three ways. First is the standard banner which is consistently available to players and pulls both characters and lightcones. This banner has all the available standard five-star characters (Himeko, Welt, Yanqing, Bailu, Clara, Gepard, and Bronya) and all four-star characters and weapons. 

Honkai: Star Rail‘s First Limited Character Banner (Image Credit: HoYoverse)

The second banner is the limited character banner which has a rate-up or increased chance of pulling three four-star characters and one five-star character. These five-star characters are only available for a limited amount of time, thus the name limited character banner. If a new four- or five-star character comes out, they will be on this banner. 

Honkai: Star Rail‘s First Limited Lightcone Banner (Image Credit: HoYoverse)

The third banner is the limited lightcone banner. This banner primarily focuses on lightcones and has a rate up on certain five-star and four-star lightcones. Primarily, it parallels the limited character banner in which the rated-up lightcones are typically ones that best suit the rated-up characters. 

Honkai: Star Rail‘s Reward for 300 Pulls on Standard Banner (Image Credit: HoYoverse)

As a new player, HoYoverse gives out a lot of free pulls, which helps players in trying out new characters and building up teams for later combat. HoYoverse gives out a lot of tickets for the standard banner. Additionally, when players have reached 300 pulls on this banner, they can choose a free five-star character amongst the standard five-stars. As a completely free-to-play player myself, I currently have 171 pulls on the standard banner and 30 on the limited banner after three weeks of playing, which is a lot of new characters and lightcones. 

Of course, this gacha element means that it’s possible to pay for characters and lightcones, using real money to buy Oneiric Shards which trade one-for-one for Stellar Jades. However, this game is not completely pay-to-win unlike other mobile turn-based gacha games. 


Despite being able to dump money into the game to get certain characters and lightcones, players are not able to escape the grinding necessary for Honkai: Star Rail

Clipboard of the many things needed to grind for in Honkai: Star Rail for a single character (Image Credit: HoYoverse)

Each character needs materials to level up, to ascend in order to break through level caps, and to build their skill tree. Every character needs a lightcone, which has similar needed materials to level up and ascend. Characters also have a relic set, which comes in six pieces that individually need to be grinded for and leveled up as well. Furthermore, characters have Eidolons. These trigger when players pull multiple copies of the same character, allowing them to gain extra talents and buffs to their kits.

Materials can come from common enemies, elite enemies, or bosses which leads to a lot of grinding. I personally haven’t felt hassled by it all as the necessary Trailblazer Power needed to grind for materials refreshes quicker than most mobile games I’ve experienced. Furthermore, the game allows for accelerated combat and auto-battling, which makes grinding for these materials a lot faster. If I’m busy and don’t really have time to dedicate to the game, I’m spending, at most, thirty minutes just doing daily activities and grinding a day. 

Even then, grinding doesn’t become important for players until they’ve reached a certain level cap. Honkai: Star Rail slowly introduces each part of the game needed in grinding for materials  so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It lets players get comfortable with a certain level of grinding before advancing it. 

In the early stages of the game, HoYoverse gives a lot of materials for free to new players, and players gain a lot of materials in the natural grinding they do on the map while going through the main storyline. 

Although this game is not quite open world, it does have a very large map for players to explore and find treasure chests, solve puzzles, and interact with characters, both playable and non-playable.


I think Honkai: Star Rail was one of the smoothest games I’ve played on release date. There was minimal lag considering how the game is split up into continental servers, and I found it fun on both mobile and PC. I didn’t have any difficulty switching between the two consoles, and HoYoverse has been consistently patching little things up in the game since the release date. The company seems to have taken a lot of input from their player base from their two other games (Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3) to make the interactive system much easier on all consoles. 


The lip syncing of the characters is well done. HoYoverse mentioned it utilized AI to lip sync the characters’ mouths with the spoken language seeing as the game is available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English. This was a previous complaint players had had in its other games, which it has rectified in this one. All of the voice actors in this game have done a splendid job, and I have little complaint about their work on this game. 

The music is spectacular as well. I’ve greatly enjoyed the ambient music that plays while exploring parts of the map as well as the combat and cutscene music. I have no complaints which I expected knowing their other games’ soundtracks are very high quality as well.

Final Score (5 out of 5 Stars)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve greatly enjoyed Honkai: Star Rail so far, and I find myself aching for more content. The music is refreshing, the story is refreshing, and the combat is refreshing. I feel that this game is a cut above many turn-based games, particularly mobile ones. It feels less about the gacha system and making players pay to play and more about enjoying the story and the world the game is set in. I love the storyline and cannot wait to see where else this game goes. One last thing to mention is that this game is hyper-aware of itself and its player base. There are many references to memes and other games, and I greatly appreciate the unhinged choices for the main character’s dialogues. For these reasons, I give this game five stars out of five stars.

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Featured Image: HoYoverse

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