Launched in September 2020, Genshin Impact is an online role-playing game (RPG) set in the fantasy world of Teyvat. With an expansive open world to explore and a host of colorful characters, Genshin Impact has continued to accumulate worldwide popularity. Game characters are frequently represented at pop culture conventions by both cosplayers and voice actor guests, while the game’s gacha system garners millions of real dollars from players trying to acquire new characters or items.
Genshin Impact’s recently released realm of Fontaine includes a wealth of Christian parallels in its quests and characters. One of these story quests, titled “Reborn in the Land of Grievances,” focuses on a character named Wriothesley and provides a wonderful allegory for the way that God casts out fear in the lives of his people.
Wriothesley manages one of Fontaine’s most unique locations, a place called the Fortress of Meropide. Although the underwater, city-like fortress serves as a prison for Fontaine’s sentenced criminals, Wriothesley says that it “is not only a place for confinement, but also a place for rebirth.” Inmates who serve their sentences and succeed in building a new life there are able to remain in the fortress, if they choose, as free residents rather than forced residents.
Wriothesley was once an inmate himself. Though he runs the fortress with a keen eye and a firm hand, he also fiercely protects the inmates’ rights to redemption. “They may have made mistakes,” he says, “but they are still human beings with people and things that they cherish . . .” But while Wriothesley has been creating an environment where sinners can freely live out their redemption, someone else seeks to enslave the people to fear.
In his story quest, Wriothesley’s watchfulness leads him—along with the Traveler (the player’s avatar) and the Traveler’s fairy companion, Paimon—to investigate the mysterious Beret Society. Although its members seem happy and engaging, Wriothesley senses a sinister element at work. He describes this anomaly to the Traveler as “that fleeting moment of fear behind the cheerful façade.”
Wriothesley’s suspicions about the Beret Society are confirmed when one member leaves him a piece of evidence: an item Wriothesley describes as “something like a cross between a nail and a thorn.” The society’s leader, Dougier, has been using these “thorns” to inject a fear-inducing liquid into the brains of uncooperative recruits, turning his followers into terrified slaves. His goal? To set up his own regime in the midst of Wriothesley’s domain. Enraged by the harm done to his people, Wriothesley sets out to confront Dougier at his base. (Spoilers ahead.)
As a playable character, Wriothesley’s fighting style consists of element-enhanced hand-to-hand combat. He gets up close and personal to deal with the problems confronting him—or confronting his people. One of his attacks can restore some of his health, even while he delivers a powerful strike to an enemy. The attacks meant to weaken Wriothesley become an opportunity for him to demonstrate his superiority.
After defeating the opponents Dougier sends at him, Wriothesley strides confidently toward the usurper. “If you think fear can control everything . . .” Wriothesley says, smiling, “Well then, terrify me.” This is not an idle boast, but an assertion of his authority as the true ruler of the fortress—and he uses that authority to remove the threat to his people.
Wriothesley fiercely protects the inmates’ rights to redemption.
Many of us live a façade similar to the victims in the Beret Society: we fake calm while attempting to hold our lives together. We fear that, if we knock over one proverbial domino, life will devolve into a catastrophe. Because we reside in a world of constant threats, fear often attempts to usurp God’s position in our lives. Like the torturous liquid in Genshin Impact, fear injects itself into our minds and creates a terrifying distortion of reality—all to convince us to obey fear, rather than God.
But like Wriothesley, God always sees through our brave fronts. We don’t have to pretend for God—in fact, he’d prefer it if we were honest with him. Deliverance for the Beret Society members begins with taking the problem to Wriothesley, the true authority in the fortress. Similarly, our deliverance from fear begins with confessing our fears to God, the true authority in and over our lives.
In the English Standard Version of 1 John 4:16-18, we're told: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” In Genshin Impact, the torture devices are described as “thorns” or “nails” that pierce their victims. Jesus demonstrated his perfect love by taking our punishment. By wearing the crown of thorns and enduring the piercing nails on our behalf, he removed our curse and the accompanying fear of wrath and death.
When we submit to fear, we live as if we are still cursed—as if we are going to be destroyed. But as Christians, we are free to live a redeemed life because Jesus both purchased our right to that life and continues to defend it. We cannot be destroyed because Christ already bore our destruction.
In Genshin Impact, Wriothesley deals with the fears of his people personally, fighting with his own two hands—and the source of fear falls before his authority. When we confess our fears to God, he also enters into our messes with us, dealing with them “hands-on” via his indwelling Spirit. Fear becomes a chance for God to demonstrate his sovereignty and love—and a chance for us to share his victory.
Everything we will ever fear is already a defeated enemy to Christ. If we confess not only our fears, but also his authority over our fears and over us, then our terror topples from its usurped throne. King David wrote, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” While God’s deliverance doesn’t necessarily mean escape from the situation, it does mean deliverance from the tyranny of fear in the situation.
No matter the threats we face, nothing can ultimately destroy us. We have the right to live as redeemed people because Christ bore our punishment, removing our reason to live in fear.