Allow me to preface this post by explaining that, while I don’t and probably won’t frequently write about video games (to date, the only video game I’ve ever written about on this blog was Daedalic’s Gollum, and that was solely because the game was based on The Lord Of The Rings), Genshin Impact may be the exception to this rule, and I can’t promise that I won’t write about it more often in the future.
Reason being, I’m obsessed with the complex lore and mythology that informs nearly every detail of miHoYo’s vast open-world action RPG, and playing the game for the first time this year was kind of surreal for me because the themes and ideas that Genshin tackles are themes I’ve tried to implement into my own creative writing, and I’m about to start rambling on about Gnosticism so we’re just gonna have to put a pin in that conversation and get back on-topic, okay?
This morning, miHoYo unexpectedly debuted the first official artwork of Genshin Impact‘s newest playable character, Shikanoin Heizou, surprising players like myself who have been spending the last few weeks saving up our Primogems for future character and weapon banners while the release of version 2.7 is delayed indefinitely due to COVID lockdowns in Shanghai, China. I’ve amassed a respectable hoard of Primogems myself, which I expect to burn through pretty quickly while wishing for Yelan, the new five-star Hydro bow user coming in version 2.7, but maybe I’ll save a few for Heizou’s banner. He’s rumored to be a four-star character anyway, which means you could technically get him anytime by wishing on the standard banner.
In the official artwork, he wears an Anemo Vision on his belt alongside a short sword, but apparently his weapon of choice is a catalyst – which would make him the first male catalyst user in the game, and the second Anemo catalyst user after Sucrose, who’s already a very popular unit. Whether Heizou can compete with Sucrose’s crowd-control abilities or whether he fills a different niche role remains to be seen, but frankly I’m not the type of Genshin player who chooses to pull for a character based on their playstyle, or viability in the Spiral Abyss, or anything like that – as a prime example, I absolutely hate the game’s archery mechanics, but still want Yelan because I love her character design.
I’ll be honest, I don’t love Heizou’s character design. The distinctive moles under both his eyes are a nice little touch, and his maroon hair in and of itself is very striking, but there’s something about the way his mustard-yellow trousers clash with the purple in his hair that just isn’t…I don’t know, it feels like surely there were better color-combinations out there. I was personally hoping he would wear some heavily-stylized version of the Tenryou Commission uniform described in Sangonomiya Kokomi’s voicelines about Heizou, but alas, no. And that’s not me saying that I hate his official design, mind you, just that it needs time to grow on me.
Now let’s go over what we know about this character, who has never appeared in the game but is nonetheless the subject of several voicelines. Heizou works as a detective for the Tenryou Commission, and his knack for solving difficult cases is widely attributed to his “wild imagination”, “out-of-the-box perspective”, and “extraordinary intuition”. Sangonomiya Kokomi recalls being confused when he showed up on Watatsumi Island one day (presumably during the midst of the Inazuman civil war) wearing his Tenryou Commission uniform, while her right-hand man Gorou still harbors suspicions that the detective was a spy, despite his claims that he was only sightseeing.
Kamisato Ayaka describes Heizou as principled, “sometimes even more determinedly so than Miss Kujou”. Asking Kujou Sara about the detective will prompt a sigh from the Tenryou Commission officer, who refers to her colleague as “a headache” who “seems preoccupied with his personal schemes”. The Kamisato Estate’s housekeeper Thoma informs us that he steers clear of Heizou at all costs “because any situation that involves a detective is probably not one that’s going to end well.” Players can also find Heizou’s elder cousin Kano Nana at the Grand Narukami Shrine – she’ll describe her relative in exasperated terms as a troublemaker who “doesn’t like to abide by the rules” and is constantly disappearing for long periods of time.
Currently, we don’t know whether Heizou will have much significance to the overarching story and lore of Genshin Impact, but he’s the type of character I could definitely see being incorporated into upcoming limited-time events simply because he’s a detective, and we always seem to find ourselves entangled in small-scale mysteries during those events. I’m actually a little surprised that we didn’t enlist his help during last month’s Irodori Festival, when Kamisato Ayato had us running in circles around Ritou Island searching for clues regarding the secret identity of Kunikuzushi. That would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce the character.
So when will players get to meet Heizou? The fact that Genshin Impact is already promoting him suggests that he’ll be the next character to release after Yelan and Kuki Shinobu, who will both arrive in Version 2.7, so it’s safe to assume that he’s coming in Version 2.8, sometime within the next few months. He’ll probably be the last new Inazuman character for a little while, because the new region of Sumeru is expected to open up in Version 3.0 and will come with its own ensemble cast of characters, including the very first playable Dendro units.
Whenever he finally debuts, will you be pulling for him? Do you have some other character you’re waiting for? How do you feel about Heizou’s character design, and what kind of radical differences in playstyle do you expect from the (rumored) first male catalyst user in Genshin Impact, if any? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!