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Game Review: Arknights

Stuck at home with nothing other than free time on your hands? Bored of re-watching your favourite anime series for the fourth time this week? Need something to fill your time and boredom in? Don't fret, I have the perfect something for you! In this blog post, I'll be reviewing a game, Arknights!

First and foremost, Arknights is a PVE (Player vs Enemies) gacha tower defense game where you use units you obtain in order to defeat enemies and clear levels for exciting and worthwhile rewards. I'll leave the official trailer here for you to watch (Definitely recommend to at least watch once, the music and trailer itself is really good!).

Arknights Official Trailer

If you're not familiar with the word gacha, it's the form of spending virtual currency for in-game items such as cosmetics, characters, items etc. In this game's case, it's operators that you mostly will want and will obtain. 

Of course, you can also spend real currency to exchange for virtual currency in order to get the items you want.

However, that is not to say that you cannot play this game without spending real currency. In fact, you can finish all story content in this game with the units you have, albeit with a little strategy. This is also one of the reasons why I like this game and why this is my first gacha game, it doesn't require you to spend real currency on the game, unlike other pay-to-win gacha games.

An example of a gacha roll in Arknights

Moving on, I'll now talk about what Arknights is really about. Like what I mentioned previously, it's a tower defense game where you defeat enemies with operators that you obtain. By completing these stages and levels, you get a reward that can be useful in either upgrading your operators themselves or your base, which we will get to later on.

Arknights Main Menu

At this point of time, Arknights has 5 main story chapters released for players to enjoy. These chapters consists of stages and levels for players to clear in order to advance in the main story. With animations and cutscenes to further emphasize on the story, Arknights has one of the most intriguing story for a mobile game thus far.

Arknights Main Story Content

Arknights Chapter Stages

Furthermore, completing these stages helps you unlock some of the other features this game has to offer such as resources stages and your own base. Below are such stages mentioned.

Firstly, there are 5 resources stages, namely the Tactical Drill, Tough Siege, Resource Search, Cargo Escort and Aerial Threat. Completing each of these stages rewards you with different items that can be used to further improve your gameplay such as leveling your operators and upgrading your base.

Resources Stages

The Tactical Drill stage rewards you with tickets to level your operators, the Tough siege stage rewards you with certificates to buy certain items in the shop that can't be bought anywhere else, the Resource Search rewards you with base materials to upgrade your base, the Cargo Escort Stage rewards you with in-game currency called Lungmen Dollars for leveling and upgrading expenses and lastly, the Aerial Threat stage rewards you with skill books to upgrade your operator's skills to further maximize their ability in stages. Don't worry if those descriptions are a bit lengthy, all in all, they're stages to further improve your gameplay.

An example of one of the resource stage, Tactical Drill

Not only that, there is another stage that is also quite important. The reason being is that it rewards you with in-game currency to roll for more operators to add in your squads. This resource is called Orundum and is only used for rolling for operators. However, unlike the other stages that are open for only 3 days a week, this stage is open 24/7. 

An example of the Annihilation stage

There is a catch however. You can only farm a maximum of around 1600 to 1900 Orundum per week. All in all, it is a good system set for the players so that they don't have to spend real currency to roll for operators but because of the weekly limit, players also can't abuse it. I have nothing but praises for the system they've implemented here.

Speaking of operators, there are two ways to obtain them. One is by spending in-game currency, Orundum to roll for them and the other way is to use recruitment permits to recruit said operators. What's the difference you ask? Well, the former uses the limited in-game currency, while the latter only uses recruitment permits which are easily obtainable through the in-game store or daily and weekly quests.

An example of the headhunting system

An example of the headhunting system

These are banners, where you roll for operators. New banners will have a condition where you will be guaranteed a 5 star or higher after 10 rolls, which is beneficial to players since those operators are generally harder to obtain.

Recruiting operators using recruitment permits

However, recruiting can take a long time depending on yourself. It also has a very low chance of awarding you with 5 or 6 star operator, which are some of the best operators in-game. However, in the event where you obtain an operator you already have, you're also rewarded with operator certificates.

What do you do with these certificates? Well, there are a number of ways to spend them. In the in-game store, you can exchange these certificates for valuable in-game materials such as leveling tickets, operator development materials, more recruitment permits. Even better, you can use them to buy headhunting tickets to roll for operators in the banners. However, these types of certificates are harder to obtain than the normal operator certificates.

The certificate store in Arknights

Now, we can get to the technical aspect of this game, the base. In the base, you can use resources to build facilities such as factories, power plants workshops etc. These facilities can help improve your gameplay in the long term with factories producing valuable materials such as leveling tickets and/or gold bars to exchange in the trading posts for Lungmen Dollars. You can also set up dorms for operators to rest after being stationed in said facilities. Moreover, the fun part is that you can interact with the operators in their 'chibi' form to get a reaction from them that are usually very cute and amusing.

An example of a base in Arknights

An example of the dorm, with operators resting in it

Now that we've gone over the game, let's talk about what I like and don't like in this game. 

First and foremost, what I like about this game is that there is so much to do in this game to the point where you will not get bored of it anytime soon. First, the main story stages. They're the bread and butter of this game and provide a lot of content for the players. Furthermore, there are the resources stages, which I already explained as well as the Annihilation stages.

Additionally, I previously mentioned that you can level your operators and did not explain much. There is so much more to operator development!

The operator menu which unlocks many possibilities

Here you can see one of my operators which I have nurtured and developed. In this menu, there is so much you can do to improve your character. The button on the top right allows you to level your character. The "Promotion" option allows you to Elite or upgrade your character's limits per se. The "Potential" option allows you to improve your character as you get more tokens or copies of the same character. The "Skill Upgrade" option explains for itself. Lastly, the "Trust" bar on the left side of the screen gradually fills up as you bring that operator into more battles and stages which in turn improves the operator's base stats.

All in all, there is so much more to do than just leveling your operators, which means that players, or Doctors as we call them in this game, has to do.

Another thing that really surprised me when I first played the game is the intuitive and beautiful UI/UX experience. UI/UX being user interface and user experience. The menu and controls in this game are beautifully simple and does not bring up any confusion over it's functions or anything. Also, since this was originally released in the Chinese region for a bit before releasing worldwide on IOS and Android devices, I expected there to be some localization issues. However, there almost close to none! And where there were some, the updates and fixes to the game are really fast and the developers even compensate players for said maintenance with sanity packs or even Orundum! 

Intricate and beautifully designed main menu

Now, I'll go over the only complain I have for this game so far. The sanity system. Before I mention anything, I have to say that I don't think what they have done is wrong, just that it can be improved. Right now, stages and levels requires sanity or in other terms, energy, to initiate. So if you don't have enough sanity, you can't complete any levels. Sanity recharges every 6 minutes or so. So to most players, you'd have to wait for your sanity to refill before you can attempt a stage.

However, there are more ways to refill your sanity rather than just waiting for it to refill passively. You can use sanity packs that I mentioned previously to refill your sanity for a certain amount or you can use your in-game premium currency, Originium, to refill your sanity. Don't be confused over Orundum and Originium. The former I already explained while the latter is basically currency you can get by paying real currency. This premium in-game currency can be used to refill sanity to your maximum capacity for each Originium or you can use it to exchange into Orundum for gacha currency.

Refilling sanity through Sanity Packs

Refilling Sanity through Originium

However, you can only refill your sanity with Originium 10 times a day, which means that once you used that 10 refills, you essentially can't play the game anymore until the next daily reset. This is my gripe with the sanity system. I hope that sanity can be regained faster while also removing the daily limit for sanity refills. Other than this issue I have, I have been having fun with the game so far.
Finally, I'll be giving my overall review as well as give my thoughts for who this game is for.

Arknights was the first ever gacha game I've ever played and I caught wind of it through scrolling through Twitter. Ever since then, I had anticipated its global release so that I could play it as soon as possible. When I first played the game, I expected to lose interest over 2 weeks since I never really got into mobile games. However, this game proved its worth with its intriguing and in-depth lore that got me hooked, and its surprisingly beautiful and well thought out design. To me, this game isn't just a game to fill my time, I genuinely enjoy every second of this game.

As for who this game is for, I'd say it's for everyone! With its easy access to most people as well as it being really easy to play, most people would find it enjoyable. If anything, I'd say the game isn't for you if you dislike gacha games which I don't think it's a valid reason for this game since it's PVE, not PVP. So there aren't any advantages or anything that you might find unfair.

And that's all for this review of the game Arknights! I do hope that you give this game a try in the future! Oh, I'll also put my friend code under so that anyone can add me in the game!

With that said, thank you for your time and do stay safe in these turbulent times!

Written by Kai Yuichi
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