Every planet in Honkai Star Rail has a vastly different flavor. The first thing you’ll notice about Penacony is that it’s full of simulacra.

With many comparisons to the real-world, you might be wondering what is Penacony based off?

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A fantastical, fictional planet filled with colors, lights, and architecture, it’s hard to pin point exactly what the landscape takes reference from.

Based on pop culture and key references, here’s some of the things we’ve noticed that you might have too.

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What is Penacony based off? Possible inspirations and parallels from reality

The entire Penacony experience feels like The Matrix

Neo plugged into The Matrix and Trinity watches over him
Credit: Warner Bros.

In the year 1999, everything changed.

The Matrix, a sci-fi film directed by the Wachowskis, took the world by storm. Even if you weren’t born during that era, you would be aware of what’s now considered a must-watch classic.

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The film is renowned for its groundbreaking visual effects, philosophical themes about reality and perception, and action-packed sequences, making it a cultural milestone in the realm of science fiction cinema.

Warning: Minor spoilers if you haven’t played Honkai Star Rail 2.0 “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”.

Female Trailblazer enters The Dreamscape in Penacony via a dream pool in The Reverie's hotel room
Credit: HoYoverse, screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

To understand Penacony is to understand the fundamental premise of this movie. It explores a dystopian future where intelligent machines have enslaved humanity by trapping their minds in a simulated reality called the Matrix.

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In Honkai Star Rail’s case, we’re not enslaved by machines (yet?) in the story — instead people voluntarily enter the simulated reality called The Dreamscape by dipping themselves in a dream pool.

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It’s only in The Dreamscape where you’ll experience the “real” Penacony that’s larger than real life, just like in The Matrix.

What is Penacony based off? The Reverie draws parallels to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands integrated hotel resort

Perhaps it’s because I’m Singaporean, and there’s therefore a deep bias, but the first thing that struck me when we were inside The Reverie is how much it reminded me of Marina Bay Sands.

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An iconic integrated resort in Singapore, renowned for its distinctive architecture and luxurious amenities, it’s a distinct hotel that dominates the city’s skyline.

Female Trailblazer and March 7th viewing The Reverie hotel lobby for the first time in Penacony
Credit: HoYoverse, screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

The resort houses a vast casino, a shopping mall with high-end brands, and a state-of-the-art theater in its lower levels, while it’s upper levels are rows and rows of hotel rooms that face each other. At the lobby, you’ll even find art work hanging from the ceiling.

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The Reverie shares a similar design, except that it’s much wider, boasting gothic architecture. Nonetheless, it also houses many tropical palm trees just like its real-life counterpart.

Marina Bay Sands interior in Singapore
Credit: Digby Cheung on Unsplash

The Dreamscape’s Golden Hour is basically The Strip in Las Vegas and Times Square in New York combined

You’re surrounded by bright neon lights, advertisements, and billboards in the middle at Golden Hour in The Dreamscape, particularly around the plaza area.

It evokes, very strongly, the bustling excitement of Times Square in New York City and The Strip in Las Vegas.

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Times Square is an iconic commercial and entertainment hub, renowned for its bright neon lights, massive digital billboards, and constant activity. It’s also a focal point for theaters, surrounded by numerous shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

What’s more Dreamscape Pass No. 5 is called “City That Never Sleeps,” which New York is typically described as.

On the West coast, The Strip is synonymous with glamorous nightlife, high-stakes gambling, and a wide array of shows, lined with hotels, casinos, theatres, and more.

The Dreamscape, just like its real-life inspirations, feature extravagant themed architecture, dazzling lights, and a plethora of entertainment options where you can shop, dine, and play minigames to escape the hardships of life.

Warning: Major spoilers if you haven’t finished Honkai Star Rail 2.0’s main story line.

The Dreamscape and Memory Zone takes a chapter from the movie Inception

Of course something’s off. Of course it’s dystopian.

The brighter the lights, the darker the shadows.

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If you’re constantly feeling on edge the moment you arrive on Penacony and can’t stop suspecting The Family of hiding deep dark secrets, you’re not alone.

Trailblazer meets Acheron in her dream on Astral Express on route to Penacony
Credit: HoYoverse, screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

Near the last quarter of 2.0’s main storyline, you’ll realize that you might have experienced the “real Dreamscape” back when you were on Astral Express, where you first encounter Acheron in your dream.

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Later on, when Sparkle finally drops her Sampo disguise and reveals herself, she also sends the Trailblazer and Firefly into the “real” Dreamscape called Memory Zone — and she could do this even though you’re already in The Dreamscape.

A dream within a dream within a dream? That is so Inception.

Dom Cobb watching the streets and buildings fold in the world of Inception
Credit: Legendary

The 2010 film is a mind-bending heist thriller by Christopher Nolan that explores the world of dreams and subconscious reality. The film follows Dom Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a skilled thief who specializes in entering people’s dreams to steal their deepest secrets.

All Penacony characters in Honkai Star Rail 2.0

However, instead of theft, he is tasked with implanting an idea into a target’s mind. As Cobb and his team navigate multiple layers of dreams within dreams, the boundaries between reality and illusion blur, creating a visually stunning and intellectually complex narrative.

Dr Ratio walking on walls in The Reverie in The Dreamscape
Credit: HoYoverse, screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

As you dive deeper into the Penacony storyline, you’ll start feeling confused about what’s real and what’s not. What’s more, just like Inception, you’re going to have to walk on walls using the Bubble Charge mechanic to create linking ramps.

Perhaps the best part of it all is that you’ll get to experience a real-life inception first hand. When you arrive at Aideen Park with Firefly, she invites you to play a gacha game within a gacha game.

Golden Capsule Machine where you can play gacha balls in Aideen Park in Penacony's The Dreamscape
Credit: HoYoverse, screenshot by Amanda Tan/ONE Esports

Called the Golden Capsule Machine, it’s a three-story high gacha machine that spouts a big balls when you roll. A sure-win game, it has tiers of prizes that range from normal to humungous.

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