Honkai: Star Rail aims to deliver unique silkpunk themes & sharp combat

The upcoming offering from miHoYo is a visual stunner with silkpunk-inspired themes and addictive turn-based combat.


During a recent Gaming at Apple Dev Showcase, we had the opportunity to check out a bit of miHoYo’s highly anticipated free-to-play space fantasy RPG, Honkai: Star Rail. While visually reminiscent of Genshin Impact in many ways, Honkai: Star Rail’s gameplay is starkly different thanks in part to its clever incorporation of turn-based combat. Its setting is a unique one as well.

One descriptor that frequently came up when speaking with HoyoVerse’s Michael Lin is “silkpunk” which denotes a signature East Asian blend of sci-fi and fantasy. This silkpunk vibe definitely came across well in elements of the game’s setting and general atmosphere. It’s also seen in the impressive, thoroughly detailed costume designs of Honkai: Star Rail’s various characters.

Honkai: Star Rail promo image showing some of its characters including Jing Yuan in the background
© miHoYo

Not only was I able to zoom in and admire the design of characters like Jing Yuan and the uniquely named March 7th, I got to see (briefly) the three starter planets that players will be able to explore as well, notably the wintery Jarilo-VI. In particular, this planet seems great not only for roaming around in search of enemies, but also for soaking up a little atmosphere thanks to the inclusion of delightful, mesmerizing background music.

I can easily see myself parking my character in a safe area and leaving the game up on my PC screen as a sort of tranquil moodsetter. Of course, it’s not all peace and tranquility on Jarilo-VI as I quickly encountered an enemy during my explorations that needed to be dealt with. As previously mentioned, Honkai: Star Rail features a turn-based combat system.

More specifically, when you hit an enemy or an enemy hits you, you launch into a turn-based combat encounter. Here, you and your party of four characters are able to use a combination of Basic, Skill Attacks, and Ultimate abilities either against a single enemy or multiple using AoE attacks. Skill Attacks are more powerful and require Skill Points to perform, with Skill Points earned by dishing out Basic Attacks. The system is fairly easy to understand, and given the different characters you can have in your party, offers some nice variety.

Honkai: Star Rail promo image showing a party of four different playable characters
© miHoYo

While I didn’t have a lot of hands-on time with Honkai: Star Rail, I nevertheless found myself incredibly impressed by what I saw, and learned. Something that really stood out to me in talking about the game with Michael Lin was the massive development team of 500 people working on Honkai: Star Rail, and how they’re committed to providing regular updates for the game in the future in a similar manner to the regular update schedule seen with Genshin Impact.

It really feels like, whether you love Genshin Impact or are simply looking for a new game to get hooked on, Honkai: Star Rail is one to keep a close eye on.

Honkai: Star Rail promo image showing the game's silkpunk-inspired environment designs
© miHoYo

Honkai: Star Rail is currently wrapping up its final closed beta test, with a full launch on PC and mobile planned for sometime later this year. For more on Honkai: Star Rail, be sure to check out the game’s official website, and stay tuned for more coverage here at Shacknews!

This feature is based on a preview shown by the publisher during a Gaming at Apple Dev Showcase. Honkai: Star Rail is set to release on PC and mobile devices sometime later this year. 

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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