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The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood preview: unique deck-builder reaches for the stars

James Daly

Published 
| Last updated 

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood preview: unique deck-builder reaches for the stars

Featured Image Credit: Devolver Digital

A modest, two-room home is suspended in outer space. The empty darkness that surrounds it is adorned with shining stars. Fortuna, our protagonist, stares out at the void. She’s totally and completely alone. She has been for 200 years and she has another 800 to go before she can leave this place. Desperate for aid, she summons a behemoth, a giant, deific creature. And so our story begins.

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See the trailer for The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood here:

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The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is the latest game from developer Deconstructeam and publisher Devolver Digital, the duo behind The Red Strings Club - a rich, cyberpunk narrative experience. In a sense, this new title has some similarities in its art style and focus on story, but TCWS is truly a unique entity overall.

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Playing on PC, the preview build we were provided by the publisher lasted up until the title card of the third chapter. While the experience only took about 90 minutes, the identity of The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood was effectively demonstrated. It’s parts point-and-click and deck-builder, with dialogue options and plenty of choice throughout.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital

The most intriguing gameplay element is in the heart of the cards (not that one). As you play, Fortuna learns to harness the four elements of wind, water, earth and fire, each of which offering gems that can be used to make cards for our deck. Canonically, our protagonist is a witch who lost her tarot cards as part of her punishment for causing unrest in her coven. After being locked away for two centuries, she starts making new cards with the help of a supernatural being, known as a behemoth, named Ábramar.

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The behemoth teaches Fortuna to create her own cards by using the elemental currencies to pick backgrounds and images to place over it. Each component has its own lore and meaning, and costs gems of varying kinds. You can also get creative by moving the images around and adding more to your choosing, meaning each card can look genuinely like one of a kind.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital

Once made, your cards go into your deck, and this pack of miniature artworks is used through The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood as a means to read the future of other characters. Essentially, it’s a new tarot deck that you’ve made on your own, which is as interesting as it is satisfying. While this isn’t what one would expect from a traditional deck-building game, it’s difficult to think of TCWS in any other way, even with its deep, dialogue-driven narrative and point-and-click nature.

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One of the most enticing details about The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is the lore within the cards. Each component has its own little story, ranging from cryptic chunks of cosmic narrative, to sobering warnings of what could be. The amalgamation of these tiny narratives is felt when a card is finished, with the imagery possessing a new meaning that’s, at least partially, of our choosing.

When giving a reading, we’re offered multiple choices for how to interpret the cards that are dealt, with the answers we pick yielding different rewards and results, specifically in the form of which gems we get. Again, I only played about an hour and a half of this preview build, but I got the sense that something bigger was happening behind these seemingly little choices.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital
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And then in chapter two, Fortuna was on a roadtrip with friends. The trio were in a camper van, sharing stories (some of a sexual nature so be warned) and discussing life in a way only real mates can. This section felt more like a long cutscene despite having to click after each line of the on-screen dialogue, at least up until near the end where I gave a tarot reading and made a pizza, basically with the same mechanics as the card-builder section (no lore for the mozzarella though).

This section of the game gave some welcome insight as it revealed a bit about who Fortuna was before her imprisonment. She’s somewhat introverted, not naturally forthcoming about her romantic life, but also has room for us as the player to decide some of her identity. Above all, she’s relatable and that’s a damn good thing for a visual novel hybrid game.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood / Credit: Devolver Digital

While there’s still more to see in the full game, the preview build of The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood thoroughly enchanted me. The narrative is engaging. The in-game world is fascinating. The card creation is a pleasure. Above all, the lore is akin to a Souls game, and I would happily spend hours poring over each item description. The release date for this one can’t come soon enough.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood will release for PC and Nintendo Switch in 2023, with an exact date still to be announced. Code for preview build provided by the publisher.

Topics: Devolver Digital

James Daly
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