When I first saw the trailer for The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood it instantly caught my attention for a number of reasons. It had an awesome and detailed pixel art style, involved witches and creating completely custom tarot cards and it seemed like a really cosy game, filled with interesting characters and interactions. While the story itself did turn out to be a bit darker and touch on themes I wasn’t initially expecting, the game delivered overall on all the other aspects that drew me in upon seeing that first trailer.
Without spoiling too much of the story, you play as Fortuna, a witch who has been exiled to a remote asteroid and is 200 years into a 1000 year sentence for prophesying the downfall of her coven. The game opens with Fortuna summoning a being known as a behemoth named Abramar. As part of her exile, Fortuna has been stripped of her tarot deck so Abramar has her harness the powers of the 4 elements to create a new deck, card by card to get back into the swing of doing readings and harnessing her magical abilities after such a lengthy time in isolation. While getting Fortuna realigned with her magical side initially seems like Abramar doing what he can to help a lost soul, it quickly becomes apparent that there could be something more sinister at play and that he may have ulterior motives .
Gameplay wise, the game plays quite similar to a visual novel for the most part but also has moments of interactivity such as choosing what objects in a scene to interact with as well as the drag and drop creation mechanics of building cards and the game’s other mini games. It’s very much a story driven adventure, and thankfully it’s a solid one.
If you’ve played through any of Deconstructeam’s previous works, you’ll know that they’re masters of writing great characters, situations and interactions. And Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is no different. It does tackle some fairly dark themes, and there are content warnings available from the menu, but the game does utilise these themes respectfully and in fitting situations. Even though the game has a fairly short runtime and takes place in limited locations, I was surprised by how invested I got in these character’s, their relationships and also the worldbuilding established. It’s a testament to the quality of the writing and I’m actually looking forward to subsequent playthroughs to see how differently certain sections could have played out.
And multiple playthroughs are something that is clearly encouraged. The game’s story is impacted by the choices you make, and your choices determine your fate. There’s no going back. The team have made the clever decision of removing the ability to reload a save slot at any time so you’re forced to live with the decisions you make. This made each decision have an added layer of weight but also makes it have a more grounded sense of consequence for your actions.
Outside of experiencing the story, another core mechanic the game offers is the ability to create the custom cards that will fill out Fortuna’s new tarot deck. This system is quite customisable and let’s you combine the magical elements of air, earth, fire and water along with image types to create your own custom tarot card. The card’s meaning is influenced by the individual elements, images and symbols you combine and this in turn affects the readings you do and the story accordingly.
You’re able to view your custom created deck from the main menu and you can even share your custom creations using the sharing tools available on your platform of choice. I’m sure we’ll be seeing some amazing looking pieces of artwork in no time from the community of players given how customisable the creation system is.
I had the ability to review the game on both PC and the Nintendo Switch. And while I did spend the majority of my time with the Switch version, I did find the creation system for the cards to be a bit of a smoother process on the pc version as the mouse does provide finer detail of movement and scaling compared to the Switch port. But outside of that I found the experience to be identical regardless of version.
As mentioned earlier, one of the things that caught my eye when first seeing the game was it’s art direction. It uses a distinct and detailed pixel art style that works across the numerous scales the game uses, whether it being zoomed out when traversing Fortuna’s asteroid based home, mid-sized portrayals seen in the flashback story scenes and also larger scale up-close depictions that are seen on the conversation side of the screen to detail the actions and conversation side of the story. It perfectly captures the cosy nature of the game and is a constant delight to look at. And that’s just for the world and characters. The art for the items and the landscapes that can be used to create your own custom tarot deck are on a whole different level of detail and scale. Some featuring environments that I would love to see as the settings for completely different games.
My experience with The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood was a great one overall. I loved its depictions of its characters, their interactions and the art direction. My only wish for improvement would have been some voice acting for its characters. While it’s certainly not needed to have a great time, I felt that with a story and characters this well written, it would have been taken to an even higher level of accompanied by some great voice acting performances to also provide a more cinematic experience to the scenes.
I can’t wait to see what the Deconstructeam work on next. They’ve shown over a few games now that they can consistently craft great stories and characters and tread the line of cosy and heartwarming with dark themes and pull it off successfully and respectfully. I thoroughly enjoyed the roughly 6 hour experience of playing through the game and am looking forward to revisiting Fortuna’s journey another time through just to see the outcome of different choices and relationships.
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