The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Review – Everything Is Not What It Seems

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Review – Everything Is Not What It Seems

As someone who got their first tarot deck when they were 14, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood immediately called to me, but be warned, this game isn’t just about reading cards. It sports the pixelated aesthetic of Coffee Talk in earth tones and muted reds, and you’ll be sitting and talking to people most of the time, but it’s also a deck-builder where you design your own cards by putting together different elements, creating unique cards with distinct meanings. You are Fortuna, a witch exiled to a house on an asteroid for a millennium after predicting the downfall of your coven with said tarot cards. You are entirely alone, with no visitors and no tarot deck to occupy your mind or time with.

Two hundred years into your sentence, going mad with loneliness, you summon a Behemoth named Ábramar, who gives you unimaginable power in return for an unimaginable price. You seal a new contract for every element of magic (water, air, earth, and fire), each one allowing you to choose a different boon that will change the way people act towards you. You can choose to be adored, or feared, and to work towards self-actualisation or personal gain. With these new powers, you create a new divination deck for yourself, creating an all-new canon that isn’t tied to human understandings of the universe.

Early in the game, a sympathetic arbiter (essentially a space witch cop) decides to reevaluate your sentence, and lifts the ban on visitors to your particular space rock. Your closest witch friends start visiting, and you do readings for them while catching up on how the coven has been doing. The soul of this game lies in your relationships with the people you interact with, and the people who come in and out of your life. More than anything else, it’s about sisterhood and womanhood, and approaches these themes politically and bravely. At one point, you help a trans woman transition into the witch she wants to be. There is queerness everywhere, and female solidarity everywhere you look. There is room for dissent between sisters, but at the end of the day they argue because they want the same things. I’ve never played a game that encapsulated the feeling of sisterhood quite so well.

Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood House

The entire time that you’re interacting with these people, you are hiding a huge secret – summoning Ábramar means you have committed a huge crime, and it’s your choice who you decide to tell. This comes into play later, when the game takes an unexpected and hard turn (spoilers!) into becoming a sort of political campaign simulator, where you must work against other witches in order to win an election.

This means sending witches out to promote your campaign, dig up dirt on your opponents, and convince specific demographics to vote for you. You can even send them out to find allies sympathetic to your cause, and how you deal with those allies affects the ultimate outcome of the game. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood succeeds in creating high-stakes situations that feel important, putting immense amounts of power in your hands and then telling you to make the right choices with it, but it felt jarring to suddenly be managing an election candidate when you’d previously just been making cards and giving readings.

Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Cards

I do have some doubts about the importance of your deck in gameplay, though. You craft each card with three different aspects. First, you choose a Sphere, or background, then an Arcana, which is a character, and then Energy Symbols, which are accents. Each different aspect costs you a certain amount of energy from different elements, which you can regain by doing readings. You can combine these aspects in any order you want, which gives each card its own unique meanings and keywords.

Drawing these cards in readings gives you a number of interpretations that you can then relay to the person receiving the reading – but note that whatever you say always comes true, and you should choose what you say carefully. You receive new Spheres, Arcana and Symbols as the game goes on, and you can destroy your cards and reuse those aspects to make new ones. Making cards feels cool and creative, but each card can have so many meanings that they essentially become meaningless. I began to grow unsure of how much my cards were actually impacting my dialogue options, especially when I couldn’t draw clear links between the cards I’d chosen and the dialogue I could choose from.

Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Reading

I loved The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood for the most part, but there were times in which the writing had me raising my eyebrows. There was quite a bit of modern lingo being thrown around by the witches, and I found myself asking why they were talking about ‘spilling the tea’ when this witch had been on an asteroid for 200 years and left Earth before the Internet became a thing. Ábramar also called me a nerd, which seemed a bit strange for a being who’s older than time and has been imprisoned for hundreds of years. There weren’t many of these anachronisms, but the ones that were there took me out of the story.

That said, the writing was strong everywhere else, and the characters were very well-developed. I found myself intensely jealous of Patrice, Fortuna’s sister who had a life full of sex and love, was an award-winning journalist, and became a best-selling author. Eva, Fortuna’s friend before she was a witch, wanted so badly to have a positive impact on the world but felt like she couldn’t possibly do enough, even as an activist. Dahlia, a friend of Fortuna’s, is intensely radical and progressive.

Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Beach

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood shows us what women can be when they are free to be who they are, liberated from arbitrary restrictions on their lives. It is a feminist, progressive, intersectional game, one that celebrates women in every form. It made me feel connected to the world around me, and that’s a huge accomplishment.

Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood review card

Score: 3.5/5. A game code for PC was provided.

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