Honkai Impact 3rd, the game that made HoYoverse what it is today, has reached the final leg of its first volume — ending the six-year long journey for protagonist Kiana Kaslana.
And with that resolution leading to her final, freest form — the Herrscher of Finality — Honkai Impact 3rd's developers have released a documentary, titled 'The Story Left Behind', which chronicles the highs and lows of making the game what it is today, giving players a view into their world of creating the Valkyries we know and love.
Fight for all that is beautiful in this world
Playing a game and creating a game are two very different things. I suppose sometimes we, as players, tend to forget just how much time and effort can go into developing one.
When the team for Honkai Impact 3rd began to conceptualise the game, they were just a handful of people who joined the company with a love for Japanese-style games and agreed with HoYoverse’s work philosophy and environment.
And although they thought that they could get the game out in a little over eight months, the development for the first version, in reality, took them nearly two years to complete. The first time players saw Kiana jumping off of the hatch of a transport aircraft and into the clouds marked a momentous occasion to the team; it was the beginning of their journey of a lifetime.
The story that made it
But what made this game successful was not only the beautiful graphics, Valkyrie designs or kits; it was the story that made it shine.
For the developers, they not only wanted an action-packed game filled with cute girls and badass fights, they wanted to tell a story that could reflect reality. They wanted to translate human experiences to the screen.
Lucky for us, HoYoverse CEO Liu Wei, emphasised allowing the writers to create a story that they love — pointing out that a story like that could also be loved by the millions who have joined the game.
Players aren't often aware how difficult it is to make a game. For one, developers have to juggle living up to the expectations from players, executives, and even themselves. Such pressures can cause great anxiety for any developer, and their passion for the game can only do so much.
Having creative freedom, at the very least, makes the load lighter for developers. The less stress they have to deal with, the better they can make their game.
Wei was right. Creative freedom led to a more humane story that the players could relate to. Honkai Impact 3rd soared higher than any game HoYoverse had created before, and attracted even more players than it first had at launch.
But it wasn’t all highs. The developers also struggled with how they could make breakthroughs to the story, translate the emotions they wanted to show through the visuals, or how they could resolve different plot threads in a way that wasn’t only satisfying to them, but satisfying to the people who have grown heavily invested in the world they had created.
It wasn’t only their story anymore. It was a story that any player could watch and think “Oh, Kiana fought so bravely during her hardship. I, too, want to fight bravely like her.” It became a story that belonged to those who joined Kiana’s journey.
The developers’ determination to give us a story as beautiful and as heart-wrenching as Honkai Impact 3rd was an effort that continuously paid off well. As players drew inspiration from the life lessons they had so carefully shown through the character’s actions, we acknowledged their struggle and sought strength from their words.
Even now, the beloved Himeko’s 'Final Lesson' still tugs at the heartstrings of people all over the world: “Don’t ever… ever give up. Kiana, be brave. Push on. You can still end this story the way you want. Live, Kiana.”
The ultimate message of Honkai Impact 3rd has been always pushing on to live, to fight for all that is beautiful in this world.
From Himeko’s last words for Kiana to live, Kiana’s plea to Fu Hua to not struggle alone, Raiden Mei’s quiet resolve to fight even at the expense of turning away from those she loved, Bronya’s will to protect humanity, and even with Otto Apocalypse’s final wish for Kallen to continue existing.
Even the tragic tale of the 13 Flamechasers and Elysia ended with the hope of the world and humanity to continue on, even without them. In the end, it was always that one word: “live”.
In the documentary, the final lines “We came into the world crying, but walk towards the future with a smile” is a testament to the legacy of Honkai Impact 3rd, and a breathtaking finale to Kiana’s story.
But even as Kiana's chapter closes in Honkai Impact 3rd, a new story is set to begin in the Honkai universe.
Looking back at all the care and devotion HoYoverse has put into Honkai Impact 3rd makes us all the more excited for what they have planned for Honkai: Star Rail.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.