If you play video games, you’ve likely heard of Genshin Impact. This open-world role-playing game made by Chinese developer miHoYo, burst onto the scene in 2020, quickly gaining popularity and players.
If you’re not a gamer and are still curious, here’s the deal: You play as the Traveler, a mysterious young swordfighter on a quest to find their kidnapped sibling. On a long meandering journey across the world of Teyvat, the Traveler encounters gods, monsters, heroes, and villains, many of whom the player can befriend and add to their party.
Genshin Impact’s immense popularity is due, in part, to all the cultural details crammed into the game. Though Teyvat is emphatically a fantasy world, miHoYo liberally sampled from real-world traditions to build each of its regions. In the China-inspired nation of Liyue, the Traveler gets a crash course in “Liyeuan” (read: Chinese) opera, while in Sumeru, they can learn how to cook foods such as panipuri and samosas.
The landscapes and architecture of Genshin Impact often have specific real-world counterparts as well. In behind-the-scenes videos, game designers have explained how Zhangjiajie, in Hunan Province, provided the blueprint for Jueyun Karst, and Switzerland’s Matterhorn inspired Mondstadt’s Dragonspine.
Other times, the design team spliced together many elements to create something entirely new. For example, the look of Wangshu Inn in Liyue was inspired by the real-life Hanging Temple of Hengshan, Fenghuang Ancient Town in Hunan Province, as well as the fictional Dragon Inn from the film of the same name.
Luckily for fans of Genshin Impact, many of its most beautiful landscapes take their inspiration from the fascinating places collected here on Atlas Obscura. So take a page out of the Traveler’s book, and set out on an adventure to see the world.
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