Honkai: Star Rail's Penacony has been a rollercoaster of emotions so far, and we can't wait for more

Honkai series writer Mr. Shaoji said the Penacony story arc will be heartwarming, uplifting, positive, and wholesome... yeah, right.

Honkai: Star Rail's newest world, Penacony, has already taken us on a rollercoaster of emotions and we can't wait to see what HoYoverse has cooked up for us next. (Photo: HoYoverse)
Honkai: Star Rail's newest world, Penacony, has already taken us on a rollercoaster of emotions and we can't wait to see what HoYoverse has cooked up for us next. (Photo: HoYoverse)

WARNING! This article contains spoilers for Honkai: Star Rail's Trailblaze and Adventure Missions in Penaconny released in version 2.0. If you haven't finished those missions yet, finish those first before reading this article to avoid spoilers. You have been warned.

When Honkai: Star Rail first revealed Penacony to be the next destination in the Astral Express' journey across the cosmos, many players were excited to see what sort of hijinks the Trailblazer and the rest of the crew would get themselves into in the Planet of Festivities.

After all, it's basically Las Vegas in space, and plenty of characters from the other galactic factions were coming over too. What could go wrong, right?

Well, HoYoverse was kind enough to give players an inkling of what's to come when Honkai series writer Mr. Shaoji described the Penacony story arc will be "heartwarming, uplifting, positive, and wholesome".

If you've played Honkai Impact 3rd (HI3) before, you know not to believe Mr. Shaoji when he says such things. Instead, you should expect the polar opposite. After all, one such uplifting HI3 story arc involves a familiar and beautiful red-haired woman giving her beloved student a "Final Lesson".

So I expected the worst... but man, I was not prepared for what Mr. Shaoji cooked up in the very first Trailblaze Mission for Penacony.

So, to briefly summarize: the Astral Express Crew arrives to Penacony at the invitation of the Family in order to participate in the Charmony Festival alongside other factions from across the cosmos. There, they discover that something sinister is afoot and try to get to the bottom of it.

In the process, the Trailblazer gets caught up in a web of intrigue that involved the Interastral Peace Corporation's Aventurine, the Garden of Recollection Memokeeper Black Swan, the purported Galaxy Ranger Acheron, the Masked Fool Sparkle, and whoever is behind the mystery going on in Penacony.

Oh, and the Trailblazer also meets a mysterious girl named Firefly, who shows them around the wonderful dreamscrapes of Penacony. They basically go on a date and even take a wonderful selfie together under a scenic sky with shooting stars... Oh, how I wish the mission ended right here.

Instead, the story continues as Trailblazer goes with Black Swan and Acheron to investigate the mysteries of Penacony. They then run into Firefly again, only for her to get skewered by the monstrous Memory Zone Meme and dissolve into nothingness in the arms of the Trailblazer...

Not even given a moment to breathe, the Trailblazer then gets into a fight with the fearsome Stellaron Hunter Sam and is tricked by Black Swan to getting involved in Aventurine's schemes. Aventurine then reveals to the Trailblazer that Robin, the intergalactic popstar who is set to perform during the Charmony Festival, has also been killed...

Yep, that's a really heartwarming, uplifting, positive, and wholesome story right there. You know what HI3 players say, you only despise Otto Apocalypse because you haven't experienced what made him Otto Apocalypse in the first place.

And despite the rollercoaster of emotions the story put me through, I'm honestly itching for more. Version 2.0's Trailblaze Mission left us on a very big cliffhanger with plenty of mysteries still left to be solved.

For one, there's the mystery of whether or not Firefly and Robin are truly dead, given they died in the dreamscape. There's also the enigma that is Acheron, who Aventurine says is an Emanator of an unknown Aeon and is responsible for killing Duke Inferno of the Ever-Flame Mansion. Also, who is the Watchmaker? And why is Mr. Shaoji giving us heartbreak already so early into our adventure into Penacony?

All that aside, I have to say that HoYoverse has really delivered with Penacony so far in terms of its story and worldbuilding — which also makes the drama of the narrative hit that much harder, if I may add.

Penacony really feels like the Planet of Festivities and never-ending dreams that it is described to be. Dreamscapes like the Reverie Hotel and Golden Hour are utopic places chock-full of merriment and glee that sometimes it's overwhelming, yeah sounds like Las Vegas in space.

After spending all my Aiden Tokens in the slot machines and gachapons, running away from the walking advertisement boards, causing a traffic by jam causing an advertisement board to get run over by a car to get an achievement, and scarfing down all the floating ice cream cones I can get my hands on... I find myself wanting to step away from it all.

The brightest lights cast the darkest shadows, and that rings true in Penacony. Some of the side quests you can find in Golden Hour involving NPCs like Cocona are honestly very depressing and stand in stark contrast to the bright lights of the dreamscape. Going back to the rooftop at Dream's Edge where you took that selfie with Firefly is also a very bittersweet experience that quickly teeters back to heartbreak once you look at the somber sky and Robin's song "If I Can Stop One Heart Breaking" starts playing...

If you can stomach the heartbreak, go back here and investigate the railing where you took that selfie with Firefly to get an achievement. (Photo: HoYoverse)
If you can stomach the heartbreak, go back here and investigate the railing where you took that selfie with Firefly to get an achievement. (Photo: HoYoverse)

The dreamlike experience in Penacony then continues when you start exploring the other dreamscapes to hunt for treasure chests and complete puzzles to get that sweet Stellar Jade.

Having to walk up walls and through twisting hallways, solving trippy puzzles, and fighting wacky enemies like the Dreamjolt Troupe and Lordly Trashcan really sells that Penacony is all a dream... and that there's something sinister waiting in the wings.

With that said, Honkai: Star Rail's delightful sense of humour still shines through even amid the rollercoaster of emotions that is Penacony. I especially love the segments where you transform to the cartoon character Brother Hanu (and only communicate through cool-sounding grunts) and losing my first fight to the Lordly Trashcan (something I should have expected given how ripped they are).

Moreover, version 2.0 overall offers the biggest amount of new content in the game so far. In previous versions, I would probably have finished everything in around a week. But even after playing as much as I can for over a week after Penacony's release, I think I'm only barely halfway through finishing everything.

But even as I'm itching for the release of version 2.1 next month, I know there's plenty of stuff in version 2.0 that I can still sink my teeth into. The rollercoaster that is Penacony will take you on a wild ride, but it's long enough that you won't get bored quickly while still giving you enough time to breathe and take everything in.

So even as I blast "If I Can Stop One Heart Breaking" and "Regression" as I continue exploring Penacony's dreamscapes and grinding relics and Trace materials, my excitement for what's to come next in the story remains.

Penacony has been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster so far, and I can't wait for this wild ride to get going once again. What have you got next for us Mr. Shaoji? I'm ready... I think.

Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.

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