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The Art of Localization: How HoYoverse Adapts Honkai: Star Rail for a Global Audience

By Xueyang
Oct. 31, 2023 updated 08:16

The Art of Localization: How Hoyoverse Adapts Honkai Star Rail for a Global AudienceThe Art of Localization: How HoYoverse Adapts Honkai: Star Rail for a Global Audience

HoYoverse faces a unique set of challenges in localizing Honkai: Star Rail, a game deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and language, for a worldwide player base. According to a recent feature in Play magazine, the developer has to walk a fine line between preserving the game's cultural essence and making it accessible and engaging for global audiences.

Honkai: Star Rail is an expansive RPG teeming with a wealth of content. It includes lore-heavy readable items, dialogue-rich interactions, and a myriad of pop culture references. HoYoverse goes to great lengths to adapt Chinese idioms, memes, and pop culture nods for non-Chinese players. One example highlighted was an in-game achievement named after a Jay Chou song, which was renamed "Sweet Pom-Pom O'Mine" in homage to Guns N' Roses. This approach not only keeps the spirit of the original reference but also makes it relatable to English-speaking audiences.

One of the most painstaking aspects of localization is the translation of Classical Chinese language elements within the game. HoYoverse emphasizes the importance of capturing the nuances and tone of this elegantly terse language. For example, the name of a signature weapon for the five-star Destruction character Jingliu, "Tanhua," translates to "a flower that blooms quickly and lasts briefly" in English. This poetic term is deeply rooted in Chinese literary traditions and gets a fittingly poetic English adaptation. In-game, the weapon's description reads, "'From now on, I shall be my own sword,' echoing the themes of its Chinese source."

Through this meticulous localization process, HoYoverse ensures that Honkai: Star Rail remains an immersive experience, irrespective of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Their effort pays off as players have praised the game's ability to fold in modern Western meme culture while maintaining its original spirit.