Cultural Influence in Genshin Impact


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A culture word cloud including different words that make up culture.

Genshin Impact unarguably has many similarities to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Even the user interface is somewhat the same.  The developers of the game, miHoYo, confirm it themselves, saying that they were very inspired by Breath of the Wild.  However, despite being so similar with just a small anime twist, the game has still drawn huge popularity and a large player base.  Currently, the game has over 9 million users and is estimated to have generated over 3.7 billion dollars in profit. The game takes influence from more than just Breath of the Wild or anime. It takes influence from different cultures, with this being seen in the world, the characters, the story, and surprisingly, the soundtrack.  

Upon playing the game for the first time, the player can immediately see many cultural inspirations in the world itself.  This might be a bit hard to notice at first but the more one plays, the more easily it can be identified.  The game takes place in the fantasy world of Teyvat, which is home to seven major nations, Mondstadt, Liyue, Inazuma, Sumeru, Fontaine, Natlan, and Snezhnaya. Only the prior three are currently explorable.  Each nation takes inspiration from either a country or region.  The first nation that the player explores is Mondstadt.  A city-state that worships Barbatos, the Anemo Archon, or wind god.  At first glance, Mondstadt seems to resemble medieval Europe with its massive stone walls surrounding the capital and a massive cathedral in the center of the city.  This assumption is partially correct.  In terms of culture-wise and landscape-wise, Mondstadts takes inspiration from Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate area. Which is located in western Germany near the border with France.  Like the region, Mondstadts landscape is lush and green, with rolling hills along with tall and steep cliffs.  Mondstadt is also dotted with ancient ruins, based on Roman ruins that can be seen in the Rhineland-Palatinate.  Culture also takes inspiration from the area, with Mondstadts having a large wine industry and drinking culture which is similar to the region.  Much of Mondstadt’s city is either built-in Gothic style, a European architectural style during the medieval period, or Fachwerkhäuser, a traditional German timber framing.  Its cuisines, however, are not only from Germany but from Europe in general.  These dishes include Mushroom Pizza and Flaming Red Bolognese (Spaghetti) from Italy, Barbatos Ratatouille from France, and Tea Break Pancake (Pancakes are popular throughout Europe).  

The second region that the player is introduced to is Liyue, which takes inspiration from ancient China.  Like all the other areas, the character from this region usually has some connection with the inspiration of the region.  This can be seen in all 15 of Liyue’s currently playable characters. One example of this is Qiqi. The first time players are introduced to her in the story, they might think she is supposed to resemble a zombie. This is correct, but more specifically she resembles a type of zombie known as a jiangshi or “hopping zombie” from Chinese legends.  Her appearance matches that of a jiangshi, including the round-top hat and the talisman strip hanging from her foreheads.  The only exception is that jiangshi hops around because of rigor mortis (stiffening of the muscles after death) but Qiqi has prevented this by training every day.  

There are many reasons to enjoy and dislike this game.  However, its cultural inspiration from ancient Chinese folklore and many old nations and regions has truly made the game idyllic.