Four months ago, at the urging of my friends and with the new phone I had gotten for my birthday, I downloaded miHoYo’s hit game “Genshin Impact.”
I remember feeling blown away seeing the login screen for the first time. An endless marble walkway guided my eyes through a vast sea of sky, complete with fluffy clouds and spectacular towers.
The action role-playing game quickly enraptured my attention. The graphics are wallpaper-worthy and I can headbang to the music for an hour. There are four languages of impressive voice casts that add so much flavor to an already solid cast of characters.
“Genshin Impact” has me hooked and waiting for every new update with eager anticipation. This Chinese-made game made $2 billion in its first year from the mobile version alone.
During my playthrough, I noticed that “Genshin Impact” contained many references to and personifications of Chinese legends and mythology. As someone who has always been interested in Chinese history, this made me appreciate the game even more.
Here are some nods to Chinese culture hidden in “Genshin Impact”!
1 Liyue: A Representation of Chinese Culture
The world of “Genshin Impact,” known as Teyvat, is currently subdivided into seven regions. The China-based Liyue, or 璃月 (Líyuè), is the second region players visit.
The rolling countryside and golden-tinged trees truly made me feel like I was staring at an ancient Chinese painting. The city of Liyue Harbor itself is like a love letter to China. There are lots of Chinese superstitions that are well translated into “Genshin Impact,” like the sloped building roofs and the orderly streets.
Many characters from Liyue have names that symbolize something important in Chinese culture. For example, one popular character is Hu Tao, or 胡桃 (Hú Táo). This means “walnut,” which is a symbol for flirting(although the actual character has nothing to do with flirting).
True to the real world, Liyue’s food is described as unmatched by foreigners. The food descriptions for items like Golden Shrimp Balls and Cured Pork Dry Hotpot always make me salivate!
2 Qiqi: The Ghostly Jiangshi
One of the characters that players meet is Qiqi. She is a zombie revived by godly beings known as the adepti.
The first thing I noticed was her name: the characters used are “七七” (Qīqī), or “seven seven.” In Chinese culture, the number seven can be used in association with the ghost month. Qiqi’s power to draw upon icy spiritual beings is a nod to this.
In addition, Qiqi has a forehead talisman, a daily routine of calisthenics and a desire to avoid rigor mortis. This makes her a clear reference to a jiangshi, or 僵尸 (jiāng shī).
Jiangshi are violent undead creatures, but they can only move by hopping around. They can be stopped with something as simple as chicken eggs or a Taoist talisman.
Thankfully Qiqi’s talisman seems to keep her in control.
3 Azdaha: Dotting the Eyes of the Dragon-Queller
One of the many bosses players can fight is Azdaha, the Dragon-Queller. According to in-game lore, Azdaha was given eyes to see the mortal earth by Liyue’s patron god, Zhongli.
This seems like a reference to the Chinese idiom 画龙点睛 (huà lóng diǎn jīng), or literally to “draw a dragon and dot the eyes.” This means that something only needs a small detail to be complete; in Azdaha’s case, it was the eyes.
Even more details sprout up in Azdaha’s second phase battle music. The music mostly consists of traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu.
Around two minutes in, a Chinese choir begins singing, lasting for 35 seconds. The choir is actually singing poetry recitations in the style of Chu Ci poetry. The poetry is thematically about Azdaha’s lore.
I found this piece of culture very nice to include. It makes the boss fight much more enjoyable.
With Version 2.3 update’s fresh arrival, now is the perfect time to jump into “Genshin Impact” and see all the Easter eggs of Chinese culture for yourself!