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The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood stars gal pals, branching tales, and DIY tarot

A narrative adventure game combined with custom tarot card reading mechanics set The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood up for some big possibilities.
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Publisher Devolver Digital has revealed the latest title from Deconstructeam, the Spanish studio behind thought-provoking games like Gods Will Be Watching and The Red Strings Club. Titled The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, it’s a narrative game that revolves around the story of an immortal witch trapped in space, and whose story is told (and altered) through tarot card readings.

What’s more, many of the readings in The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood will be performed by cards of your own design, with each embodying different cosmic elements, and playing unique roles in the game’s storytelling. Helping you on this journey will be a giant space worm that’s older than the universe, who is probably deeply in love with you. All in all, a very intriguing premise on paper.

Read: Deconstructeam’s Essays on Empathy reminded me of the importance of creative community

First impressions

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood remains intriguing in practice, too. In a demo provided to GamesHub by Devolver Digital, an initial glimpse into the game’s first hour did a lot to set the cosmic tone of the game, laying down the foundations of its tarot card deck-building mechanics, and leaving us with a couple of strong narrative hooks.

Protagonist Fortuna is an immortal, fortune-telling witch, who has been stripped of her powers and exiled to space. Frustrated by her situation, we meet her as she’s decided to summon a forbidden, ancient cosmic being called Abramar, a giant space worm who imbues her with new powers and the ability to craft her own tarot deck.

Image: Deconstructeam

Creating cards isn’t exactly a free-for-all, as the imagery you can pull into the card upon its creation is dependent on your energy levels in four magical elements – air, water, earth, and fire – which are replenished as you perform readings for different characters.

For those who haven’t partaken in tarot reading before, it typically begins with the subject asking you a specific question. The fortune teller then shuffles and draws cards, spreading them on the table to represent a specific aspect of the subject’s query – be it possible outcomes, challenges, or other topics. Most of the work comes from the fortune tellers themselves, who help to interpret the meaning of the cards.

As the conditions on Fortuna’s exile begin to relax, other characters will start to visit her, and they’ll inevitably request fortune readings. You’ll spend time in regular conversation, learning more about the character and sketching out Fortuna’s personality in response. When it comes time to read their fortune, you’ll draw cards, assign them to a specific placement on the tarot spread, and select one of multiple interpretations to share with the subject, which seems to affect their outlook on things as they leave.

Image: Deconstructeam

It’s here where you can see the potential for the game to splinter into multiple different narrative branches and character arcs, as your decision-making when choosing where to place cards and which interpretation to relay appears to directly impact dialogue later on in the conversation, and potentially later down the line. Some conversation options came back to bite us during interactions with the initial characters you meet.

With the demo largely focussed on slowly introducing you to the card creation element of The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, it’s unclear how the mid to long-term effects of each decision might unfold, and just what impact certain cards and their specific elements can have on things.

There’s a much wider narrative to unravel, too, involving Fortuna’s predicament, as well as her former life before becoming a witch. The circumstances of her exile are vague and first, allowing you to fill in the gaps as you flesh out your version of Fortuna – her past actions, and the plans to reverse her predicament moving forward. In the first hour alone, an agreement forged with Abramar points to some potentially drastic different plot implications towards the end of the game, depending on what you choose.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood screenshot
Image: Deconstructeam

Beyond existing in Fortuna’s space jail, it seems as if The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood will also regularly delve into flashbacks of Fortuna’s life before becoming a witch – the first hour explores a lengthy road trip scene featuring Fortuna, her sister, and one of their best friends. This scene features some more grounded interactions, like using your card-creation abilities to design a pizza for dinner, and a more traditional, real-world tarot reading segment.

But the real charm here is simply immersing yourself in the very grounded and relatable conversations coming from the trio. Sometimes deep, often humorous, and occasionally delving into too-much-information territory, this initial flashback scene is pleasant and poignant.

If you’ve played Deconstructeam’s The Red Strings Club you’ll have some idea of how strong the writing is, and even during the cosmic prison portions of the game, this kind of naturalistic approach to dialogue still applies. So far, it has the effect of helping to anchor the conversations and keep them understandable, despite the incredibly outlandish scenario and lore. Even Abramar speaks in casual tones, which the game playfully nods and winks at.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood screenshot
Image: Deconstructeam

Imagined as a more straightforward narrative adventure game, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood would already feel like a strong and unique premise based on the strength of its scenario and characters alone – at least, based on the first couple of chapters. But in considering the whole Tarot card-creating and fortune-telling mechanic – there are a lot of exciting, potentially complex possibilities to think about.

To date, Deconstructeam has a very strong track record in telling emotionally nuanced and affecting stories with its unique brand of work. So needless to say, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is an intriguing game to keep close tabs on.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood will be released on PC and Nintendo Switch sometime in 2023.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran