Even though I usually don’t love the trope of an ornery husband and a begrudging wife, it somehow works in Genshin Impact.
Generally, the adventures in Genshin Impact entail saving nations from political subterfuge and good old fantasy antics with giant dragons. This time around, a character quest added in the 3.4 patch has players navigating the bickering of two roommates named Kaveh and Alhaitham. Their interactions are among the funniest in the game, and show that one of Genshin Impact’s most important narrative tools is introducing characters as pairs, and letting them bounce off of each other.
I’ll spare you the details of the majority of the quest, but here’s the gist: A super buff and smart guy named Alhaitham gets appointed to a high-ranking position at an elite educational institution. Toward the end of the quest, he, the protagonist, and sidekick Paimon have to go to his home to regroup and do some research. Once they arrive, the three run into Alhaitham’s roommate Kaveh.
From the get go, Kaveh’s appearance in the scene kicks up tension. Apparently, the trio surprised him by coming home, and Kaveh tells the Traveler and Paimon that they shouldn’t tell anyone that he’s Alhaitham’s roommate. The two then play out the trope of a nagging wife and grumpy husband. At one point Kaveh nags Alhaitham about cleaning, and players are left to sit in the middle of their spat.
“Can you feel the awkwardness in the air? I hope you’re aware of your lack of conversational skills,” Alhaitham said. “Oh, so the pot’s calling the kettle black, is he? Hmph, well, having said all that, are you okay?”
Up to this point, Alhaitham has been a reserved and focused companion. He’s not one to add pointless reflections to a story. But during these events, he’s drawn out of his academic self, and actually gets emotional about something, for once. Introducing characters in pairs is one of Genshin Impact’s best storytelling tools. Giving Alhaitham a new character to interact with creates tension and interesting moments; Kaveh’s personality is so complementary in its contrast.
This dynamic also makes it easy to ship these two characters. Shipping characters in Genshin is one of the best ways to appreciate the game on your own terms, without getting sucked into time-gated quests or spending a dime within the game’s gacha system. it prompts fan art, video edits on TikTok, and allows people to freely engage with the world. Kaveh and Alhaitham’s conversation strikes the perfect tone for this, largely because their relationship can be interpreted as romantic, and makes the story quest much more enjoyable.
These kinds of pair dynamics have been a huge driving force of the game all along. Whether it’s pairing the reserved Raiden Shogun with the cheeky Yae Miko, or the elegant mayor Ningguang and with the free-spirited Beidouseeing characters bounce off of each other fleshes out the bubbling and vibrant world.