Review: The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood – A Bewitching Narrative Deckbuilder

Review: The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood – A Bewitching Narrative Deckbuilder
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Note: The review text below makes only very brief mention of this game’s heavy themes without going into detail, but please note that this game contains references to suicide and self-harm.


The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is the latest gem from Deconstructeam (The Red Strings Club) and it’s a spellbinding narrative experience. Fitting into the deckbuilding genre in a very literal sense, this game follows the story of Fortuna, an exiled Witch who has been cast out into the cosmos by her own Coven.

Starting off in a tiny house on an asteroid hurtling through space, the game immediately sets a mystical yet comforting tone. Fortuna is struggling to come to terms with her 1000-year banishment from the Coven and decides to summon a Behemoth (a terrifyingly powerful being that is older than the universe itself) to help with the issue. The Behemoth, Ábramar, takes on a mentor role for Fortuna as she decides how to handle her Coven from afar. This comes at a price, though.

Fortuna specializes in divination (as you may have guessed from her name) and her Tarot deck was taken from her when she was exiled. To open this new chapter of her life, Fortuna begins to craft her own divination deck with the help of her Behemoth buddy.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The deckbuilding aspect is vibrant and indulgent. The creators evidently put in the hours when it came to researching magical symbolism and mythology, as the card meanings and lore snippets are written in a truly authentic manner. Fortuna can create cards manually (letting her pick a background, character, and symbols) by spending energy, which is earned through readings, destroying cards at the cauldron, rest, and gathering energy in the late game.

Visitors will ask for readings and she draws a card at random to fit a prompt (e.g. ‘What will my career turn out like?’ may be the question and ‘career’ the prompt) before picking an interpretation. The interpretations reward different types of elemental energy, so one might give two Fire energy and four Water, or four Earth and six Air. This energy can then in turn be spent on card elements. As you play, you’ll get to build your own divination deck, one card at a time. You’ll need to pick from various backgrounds, characters, and symbols, all with their own rich meanings and representations. You’ll be able to unlock more creative options as you progress, too.

After the initial work between Ábramar and Fortuna takes place, Fortuna gains the ability to receive visitors at her solitary starbound suite. The story unfolds elegantly and at a natural rhythm, with Fortuna offering her divination services to visitors while learning about the fate of the Coven – and by extension, the fate of the universe.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Something that’s truly magical is that every choice you make here really matters. The game feels like peeking into a loved one’s journal — or Grimoire, for that matter. It’s incredibly personal. Ábramar warns Fortuna at the beginning that her choices will have an impact, and this can be seen consistently, with player choices changing how characters behave, how the story reveals itself, and the outcome of that story.

Fortuna is incredibly powerful, too. Her power grows immensely as you progress and it’s possible to have a real impact on the Witches you encounter. In fact, it’s impossible not to have a real impact on the other characters.

Another way that the game offers a deeply personal experience for players is by offering a huge variety of characters to interact and bond with. This title is diverse and offers amazing representation, featuring Witches from all walks of life and showing the raw beauty of relationships and love in all forms. It’s an incredibly emotional experience. The characters have been written in a life-like way, so it’s easy to connect with them and root for them, but it’s easy to feel their sorrow and their pain, too.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

It’s important to note that Cosmic Wheel touches on some heavy themes, including suicide, illness, death, and self-harm. The topics are broached in a respectful and sensitive way, but it’s still worth considering if these are difficult topics for you.

On a technical note, it looks fantastic and performs well on Switch. The controls are intuitive for the most part — although card creation can get a little fiddly with the Joy-Con — and the way that the touchscreen has been integrated feels very natural. We did experience one crash just before the end of the final chapter, but got back in without issue and only lost a few minutes’ progress.

One interesting aspect is that Deconstructeam doesn’t let you return to past saves. The game autosaves at key moments, but you can’t reload old save files or hop between save slots. This aims, presumably, to encourage you to focus on fate and stick to your choices. While this might wind up people with a completionist mindset, the quality of the writing — a few typos and formatting quirks excepted — makes it easy to continue with your playthrough without worrying about what might have been.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Deckbuilding games come in all shapes and sizes, and this one veers towards the artistic side more than the technical. Every minute detail in your deck is important, from the placement of the magical components to the elemental energy each card focuses on. Bearing that in mind, this may not be the best deckbuilder for fans of deep strategy but it’s one of the most creative and ethereal deckbuilders out there, without a doubt.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any strategy involved, though. Every single choice you make and every button you tap will change the outcome of the narrative in your playthrough (our first took around eight hours), ranging from picking the right political slogan to choosing the correct toppings for a pizza. The writing is the true star here, though — truly emotive and engaging, and it manages to feel realistic while still touching on fantastical stories featuring cosmic ascension, consuming elder Witches, and otherworldly powers.

Conclusion

The Tarot deckbuilding aspect is present and correct here, but the wide variety of Witches and the way their stories intertwine is where The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood really shines. Every being that you encounter has a purpose in this story, and all the threads twist together to make a truly beautiful tapestry. Being locked down narrative paths without the ability to return might not be for everyone, but it’s a moot point when the story is this good — every playthrough will feel like a brand-new experience.

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