Honkai Star Rail cell phone

Honkai: Star Rail’s text messaging is a delightful slice of space life

They used to text me on my space phone

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The world of Honkai: Star Rail is communicated through interfaces. Menus and trackers keep you abreast of what tasks you can accomplish to keep resources moving in, characters levelling up, and passes built up for the next Warp. But it’s not all for making numbers increase. Some, like the actual text message function of Honkai: Star Rail‘s cell phone, become a key part of learning more about the crew you’re assembling.

You pretty much start with a cell phone in your pocket in the latest HoYoverse game. It’s an effective means of giving you a home for a map, mission log, and many other pieces of information. In other words, it’s like a journal in a fantasy game.

But HoYoverse takes an extra step with Honkai: Star Rail and lets the cell phone be a text messaging machine, too. It’s a reactive interface, where you’re usually only responding back to people who have texted you. But it’s wildly effective at giving you insight into characters’ lives and personalities, while also giving the player a chance to role-play a bit as the Trailblazer.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Reply guy

At first, most of the text messaging you do is some character building. The one above, with the carefree March 7th, is just a fun little bit of character dialogue. In fact, I’d say that makes up at least a third of the early text messages I received in-game.

They do, sometimes, play a role in a quest. For example, a text message might initiate a side quest, or create a new development in it. In some cases, it might expand on a point, bringing in a new character.

In one particular memorable section, the protagonist—the Trailblazer—asks the crew what a bunch of items they’ve picked up is. They all chime in “Relics” in a cascading chorus of replies. And, in a frustrated response, your protagonist exasperatedly responds “Thanks. So what’s a relic!?”

Screenshot by Destructoid

There are a few things that make this exchange, for me. Yes, part of it is the humor; it feels very aware of how group chats work, and how conversations can play out in them.

It also demonstrates that yes, there is an “Astral Express Family” group chat. This is a short while after your amnesiac Trailblazer joined the crew of the Astral Express, and seeing them not just talking with the crew but speaking familiarly with them, is heartwarming. It shows how they, and the rest of the crew, have bonded a little more as time’s gone on.

It even gives the player a little room to be their own Trailblazer. Players have joked about how chaotic and funny the protagonist’s conversation options can be in Honkai: Star Rail, and this extends to the text responses.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Not left on read

Going into Honkai: Star Rail, I was expecting a turn-based RPG with high amounts of production and incredible character designs, the same thing that’s drawn a lot of players into Genshin Impact. And it has that in spades; seriously, this game is surprisingly gorgeous at times, and the turn-based battles are a blast so far.

I just wasn’t expecting there to be some heart underneath it. Honkai: Star Rail‘s got some great cosmic horror lurking in its roguelite Simulated Universe, and funny dialogue around certain trash can quests.

But I didn’t expect it to put so much character writing into the little bits, too. The texting reminds me of games like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, which also made smart use of technology and its communication tools as another avenue for character interaction and development. Even Cyberpunk 2077 has some great text message storytelling, too (when you aren’t being bombarded by offers for cars).

So yes, amid all the political struggles of the current story arc I’m on and rail passes I’m saving up for rolls, I’m always waiting for a little message indicator to pop up. They’re not long or over-involved. These texts just always give a pleasant, personal little insight into the characters and world of Honkai: Star Rail.


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Author
Eric Van Allen
Senior Editor - While Eric's been writing about games since 2014, he's been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.