Analyzing the Success of Genshin Impact’s Storytelling

With the release of 3.3, Fontaine has concluded its Archon Quest, and the fourth chapter of the Teyvat storyline has come to a close. It was a phenomenal quest with its own highs and lows. However, the quests weren’t always as well crafted and struggled in making a unique storyline from other games. Several key factors have contributed to bettering the writing in Genshin Impact

The Beginning

The first Archon Quest in Mondstadt set a rather traditional tone to the format of Genshin Impact’s storytelling. 

A traditional story starts with the exposition, explaining the world and introducing the main character to the readers. Players go through a similar experience with learning how the traveler came to descend to Teyvat as well as the tutorial through Paimon introducing the world’s mechanics. The traveler’s conflict is introduced as well, which is that they are separated from their sibling due to some Unknown God who has trapped them in Teyvat. 

Image Source: HoYoverse

Another conflict soon impedes the traveler’s journey. When the traveler first steps into Mondstadt, the city is attacked by Dvalin, a huge dragon consumed by sorrow and rage. Next is a rise in action, a build up of events that lead the protagonist to solving the problem. In Genshin Impact’s case, the build up would be meeting the Anemo God Venti and partnering with Jean and Diluc to figure out a way to pacify Dvalin. 

The climax of this story map is the confrontation between Dvalin and the traveler’s group. There is the big reveal that the Abyss Order is orchestrating Dvalin’s fall which forces the traveler through more trials in order to face the dragon head-on. 

The falling action follows this climax – whether the conflict was actually fixed or not. Players are brought back to a more peaceful Mondstadt that is rebuilding itself from Dvalin’s attack. The conclusion typically wraps up the entirety of the story. However, Genshin Impact’s story in Mondstadt is called the Prologue Chapter. The conclusion of this chapter is not the conclusion of Teyvat’s story. 

Shifting Gears in Writing

After defeating Dvalin, players soon encounter La Signora, a Fatui Harbinger who has been sent to Mondstadt to steal Venti’s gnosis. The gnosis is the accumulative power of the gods (or archons). It’s revealed that these gnoses are essentially the relic which declares them to be the archon of their nation. And thus, the larger story of Genshin Impact unveils itself. 

On September 27, 2020, HoYoverse released the “Teyvat Chapter Storyline Preview: Travail” which maps out the entirety of the storyline Genshin Impact will tell. There are six entire acts officially established in this video, with one act being censored yet acknowledged to hold the story of Khaenri’ah. 

Image Source: HoYoverse

Venti did not have answers for the traveler as to the location of their sibling, and thus, the traveler must traverse more nations in search of them. However, at a certain point of their journey, they meet a man named Dainsleif who unveils the hidden corners of Teyvat in the forgotten history of Khaenri’ah, a nation that worshiped no god. It is here that the traveler learns about their sibling’s involvement in Teyvat’s history and how they, too, will become further engulfed in the world’s story. 

Now, this storyline creates a much larger canvas for writers and developers to work with. Although the Prologue began as a traditionally-written story, the following chapters expanded upon themselves. The Archon Quests became less about forcing people to play through the story and more about letting players experience the story. 

Expanding the Traditional Story Map

There are many methods in which the basic traditional story map is expanded upon in order to create better, fleshed-out worlds. Typically, these expansions include more conflicts (both internal and external) as well as doubts and regressions in the protagonist’s character to create a complex story. This clearly gets picked up by Genshin Impact writers in the main quest line. 

Following the Archon Quest in Liyue and learning about the sibling’s connection to both the Abyss Order and Khaenri’ah, the traveler is very reluctant to help the archons and their nations. In fact, a large portion of the Archon Quest in Inazuma was persuading the traveler to be willing to aid the resistance against the Raiden Shogun’s Vision Hunt Decree. 

Inazuma also forces the traveler to acknowledge that the archons have limited power as well. Instead, a larger foe is revealed: Celestia. This entity gave the seven archons their gnoses and ordered the destruction of Khaenri’ah. It is the being that the Fatui Harbingers, under the rule of Snezhnaya’s Archon the Tsaritsa, are targeting. 

Image Source: HoYoverse

Each Archon Quest unveils more about the history of Teyvat, Celestia’s role in it, and what this means for the traveler and their sibling who seeks to usurp the thrones the archons have been placed on. Mondstadt revealed the importance of gnoses. Liyue explained the purpose behind the Fatui Harbingers collecting these relics. Inazuma exposes Celestia’s connection to the archons and Khaenri’ah. 

Sumeru brought forth the Descenders, people like the traveler (the Fourth Descender) who have traversed past the stars and found their way to Teyvat. Many theorize that Celestia is a descender as well, a being that did not hail from the planet. Additionally, Sumeru introduces the dragon sovereigns, beings whose absolute authority over the nations were usurped by Celestia. Fontaine gives players a Hydro Dragon Sovereign who reclaims their absolute authority with the Hydro Archon’s throne demolished. Fontaine also reveals that the gnoses are the remains of the Third Descender (who is not the traveler’s sibling because they somehow hail from Teyvat unlike the traveler). 

The Success in Storytelling

The story map becomes more than a linear line with how Teyvat’s history, present, and future intertwine in the traveler’s journey. It is with this in mind that the success of storytelling in Genshin Impact is evident. It is a story beyond the traveler yet still intricately linked to them. Players are left in the dark to be gradually introduced to new concepts and aspects of Teyvat. Although players, through the  “Teyvat Chapter Storyline Preview: Travail” know the general flow and goal of the story, they are still very much left to experience the journey to the end. 

The game plays a balance between the player’s story, other characters’ stories, and the world’s story. It makes all aspects of the storytelling complex and intricate. Genshin Impact is no longer simply about a traveler searching for their sibling. It is no longer a story about a single hero solving everyone’s problems. 

It has become about finding out what is just and what is wrong. It’s about weighing the gray moral scales to, not pick a side, but rather to witness the story Teyvat has to unfold. In the words of Alhaitham in his character teaser, “Words are strung together and edited. History made and archived for posterity. The Scribe [or the witness] records not only the truth but the questions it leaves unanswered.” 

The traveler embarks on a journey that seeks the truth and understanding what questions still remain in the unspoken parts of Teyvat’s history. It is in seeking this that Genshin Impact’s story finds its success. Moving past the traditional story map into a map embroiled in struggles and character regressions is where the game’s storytelling becomes impactful. 

What do you think of Genshin Impact’s storyline? Do you enjoy the ever-growing complexities of the world or are you a bigger fan of straightforward yet meaningful journeys? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Boss Rush Discord!

Featured Image Source: HoYoverse

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