Shikanoin Heizou Is Finally Coming To Genshin Impact, And He Might Be The Game’s First Male Catalyst User!

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.

Shikanoin Heizou
Shikanoin Heizou |

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.

Sucrose, undisputed Anemo catalyst queen |

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.

Traveler, Albedo, Paimon, Xingqiu, Ayaka, Venti, and Kazuha at the Irodori Festival |

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!

Netflix Developing An “Assassin’s Creed” Franchise!

As the end of the year – and the release of another installment in Ubisoft’s massively successful Assassin’s Creed video game series – draws nearer, Netflix is cashing in on the game franchise’s enduring popularity/profitability, having just announced a partnership with the Ubisoft game studio that will allow them to develop their own Assassin’s Creed universe on the streaming service, kicking off with a live-action series that is already in pre-production. Although a previous attempt to bring the excitement of the video game to the big screen proved to be pretty lackluster, Netflix doesn’t appear to be trying to develop any films based on the games: their attention is focused on creating series, both live-action and animated.

Assassin's Creed

As of right now, we know very little about the series that is planned to kickstart the Assassin’s Creed TV franchise – two Ubisoft executives, Jason Altman and Danielle Kreinik, will serve as executive producers on the series, but Netflix is currently looking for a showrunner to bring this whole thing together, and we don’t know if they’ve got a writing team assembled behind the scenes just yet. It’s also unclear whether the series will adapt one of the game franchise’s eleven total installments, or combine elements from several, or act as something entirely new and different.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise’s overarching story revolves around a war between the order of the Assassins and the Knights Templar, a war spanning millennia: throughout the ages, these two opposing factions take various different forms (for instance, in Ptolemaic Egypt, they were the Hidden Ones and The Order Of The Ancients, respectively), but their goals are almost always the same – the Knights Templar seek to oppress free will and control the human race by force, through the use of magical artifacts, while the Assassins believe in free will and challenge them secretly. The game series has focused on a number of interesting historical periods, from the American Revolution and the Third Crusade to Peloponnesian War-era Greece, and over the years has gained a reputation for being one of the few video game franchises that actually takes time to research each era and achieve some level of historical accuracy.

Assassin's Creed

This has recently caused a great deal of conflict in the fandom, with the newest Assassin’s Creed game (set in the Viking world) promising (historically accurate!) women warriors and same-sex romances – something that has prompted a certain subgroup of gamers to loudly object about what they mistakenly and ignorantly perceive as “the SJW agenda”. Never mind that women fought alongside Viking men or that Vikings were marginally more accepting of same-sex relationships than many of their contemporaries; apparently inarguable historical fact is “SJW” now. Anyway, I hope and pray that the Netflix series will follow in the footsteps of the most recent games and include more diverse protagonists, even if they are adapting the earlier games in the series.

The different historical settings will certainly give the series a unique selling point with which to differentiate itself from a steadily growing crowd of video game adaptations: but I worry it could be very expensive to do as many as in the games right up front, so my guess is that the first season of the series won’t jump to too many time periods, but will probably settle on one from the earlier games that most Assassin’s Creed fans are familiar with and enjoy, such as the Holy Land or Renaissance Italy. I’ve seen it suggested that each season of the series might jump to a new time period, like the games, which would definitely be exciting: but that does raise the question of whether they would follow the in-universe chronology of the plot, or the release order of the games themselves? If it’s the latter, then my favorite character, Kassandra Misthios of Odyssey, won’t be popping up for a long while. But who knows? At the moment we really don’t know anything at all about what Netflix and Ubisoft are planning to accomplish with this partnership, or how they’re going to go about this.

Assassin's Creed

So what do you think? Which historical setting do you hope Netflix settles upon for this first series, and which Assassin’s Creed characters do you hope to see? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum” Video Game Trailer!

I’m not sure whether any of my readers have been anxiously waiting for me to start reviewing trailers for upcoming video games, but the lack of gaming content on my channel has bothered me for a while – even though it really shouldn’t, since I’m not a professional gamer by any stretch of the imagination. But the thing is: video games are increasingly growing more and more cinematic as time goes by, and the industry of adapting them to the big screen has become very profitable over in Hollywood. In fact, one could even say they’re becoming very prestige, with the recent news that Cate Blanchett will star in Lionsgate’s Borderlands adaptation.


It’s highly unlikely that a game like The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum will ever get that same treatment, but the reason I’ve selected this as my first video game trailer to review is simple: firstly, I’m familiar with this franchise, and I can think of things to say about it. Secondly, I’ve been considering reviewing certain video game trailers for a while, and this one just happened to land at an advantageous moment. So here we go!

The teaser trailer for Daedelic Entertainment’s Gollum is extremely brief, and features no glimpse of actual gameplay. In theory, the game is supposed to be stealth-based, with the player doing their best to control the frail, diminutive protagonist (I use that term loosely) as he switches back and forth between his two wildly different personas: the cunning, manipulative Gollum, and the kinder, gentler Sméagol. The player technically controls which persona they can play as, although game designer Martin Wilkes described it in an interview with IGN as being akin to “maneuvering a truck with two flat tires and trying not to drive it off a cliff”, which sounds…challenging, to say the least. As for exciting, well, that’s a different question entirely. Since Gollum isn’t particularly strong and rarely uses any weapons more advanced than a rock, the game is not going to feature a heavy focus on combat, but will instead force the player to use their survival-instincts to endure the horrors of Mordor and other inhospitable regions of Middle-earth.


In the teaser trailer, we see only two areas: Gollum’s cave in the Misty Mountains, littered with bones and what looks to be a recently deceased viperfish, and the rocky wastelands of Mordor, where Gollum finds himself after being taken captive by Orcs. The game will follow the events of the books and their detailed appendices more closely than Peter Jackson’s movies, although certain stylistic decisions have been made which appear to have no basis in either – most strikingly, the design of Sauron’s tower, Barad-dûr, which appears in the trailer as a thin, metallic spire with strong sci-fi influences. Since this game is set between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, Gollum’s journey in the game likely has to end with him being captured by Aragorn and imprisoned by the Wood Elves of Mirkwood, but hopefully there’s room to explore, and/or mess about with the actual chronology of events just a little bit.

It was revealed that several characters from the books will have small but crucial appearances in the game, and off the top of my head I can think of a few who might show up: the Nine Ringwraiths, with whom Gollum appears to have had unpleasant interactions; the Orc commander Grishnákh, who instantly recognizes Pippin’s impression of Gollum’s voice in The Two Towers and knows or guesses about the One Ring; Shelob, the great hulking spider-demon dwelling in the mountains above Mordor who aligns herself with the miserable creature in exchange for new victims delivered to her doorstep; Aragorn, who captures Gollum and delivers him into Elven custody; and Legolas, who may very well have been one of the hunters tasked with trying to find Gollum, and was one of his eventual captors at any rate. Whether these characters will have wholly original designs (if they appear at all, though Shelob at least seems a given) remains to be seen.


As for Gollum himself, our main character bears a passing resemblance to the CGI version of the slinking rogue seen in both The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogies, although he has more hair in the video game (an attempt to make him more relatable, apparently). Andy Serkis is not believed to be reprising his role voicing the character, which is a big loss for the game studio if true: Serkis’ iconic performance as Gollum is commonly cited as one of the films’ strongest, and he still routinely slips back into character.

Will you be playing Gollum when the game arrives on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC next year? Is Serkis’ voice a deal-breaker for you? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 5/10