Reviews & Interviews

The Arcana – A Game of Cards and Romance

 

Publisher: Nix Hydra

Format: iOS and Android, single player

 

There are several choice-based story games out there at the moment, many of them revolving around the theme of romance. You choose a particular game path, and the whole game morphs around your decisions. The Arcana falls into that character but stands out from the rest thanks to its lush fantasy theme, complete with a strong connection to the major arcana cards of the tarot.

In the game, the Arcana are the cards within a magical deck granted to you by your mentor and master. As an apprentice magician, you are called upon to help a leader in trouble, but before you even have the chance to help, you’re accosted by a dastardly criminal… or are they a blameless victim of circumstance?

 

Compelling

 

 

The Arcana is one of the more compelling games I’ve played, made even more so by the fact that’s it’s right there on my iPhone so I can play a few chapters any time I have a bit of spare time. The dialogue between characters is fun and exciting, the story is intriguing and full of magic and mystery, and the mechanics make this game very re-playable.

As the main character, you can choose one of six routes to play after an initial prologue. These six routes each centre around one of the other main characters, with the chance to find either romance or disaster – or a little of both!

Each route ends in either an upright or reversed ending, which is another connection to the tarot. It’s possible by replaying the chapters to unlock both endings, which I absolutely had to do in order to find out what all the endings were! I can’t stand not to know.

 

Inclusive

One of my favourite aspects of this game is that it’s completely inclusive. There’s no assumptions about gender, for a start. Plenty of the characters in the game don’t disclose their gender, and are referred to as “they”. As the main character, you can choose your own pronouns, to make the story completely immersive.

Characters have a wide range of skin tones and it is made clear that there are a numerous cultures and beliefs, creating a diverse and believable fantasy world.

 

Tarot Readings and Mini Games

As well as the main story, you can earn coins with which to buy additional choices within the chapters – many of which unlock some steamy scenes! None of it is NSFW, but there are some close clinches. To gain these coins, you can just buy them from the store, or you can earn them through mini games and daily check-ins.

Check in daily to get 5 coins, then every seven consecutive days you get a free tarot reading. I actually really enjoy the readings, each one facilitated by one of the main characters of the story. Be aware, if you miss even one day checking in you need to start from the beginning again! So, if you want the free readings, simply log into the app and click on the “Dailies” button then on “Tarot”.

 

I absolutely love this game. I’ve had it for a while now and keep coming back to it again and again. The newest characters don’t have complete routes yet, so I follow the publishers on Twitter and Tumblr to get regular updates. The game itself is free to download and even though some choices are purchased using in-game coins, none of these choices has an impact on the overall outcome of any route. They are just for fun, and a little for character development.

You don’t need to have any knowledge of the tarot to play this game, but if you do, you’ll love the connections to actual cards and the interpretations you or your teacher come up with during the story. Some you’ll nod along to, whilst others you might disagree with, but it’s a fun ride and keeps you intrigued and entertained right to the end of each route. Highly recommended.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors & Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.