The Arcana

Over the years of my life I’ve often received conditioning that has prevented me from sharing things I secretly love if I suspect that others won’t think they’re cool. More recently however I’ve tried to break that habit, and found that actually a lot of people who follow me will love the same things I love because if they’re following me they’re already on a similar vibration, and my unabashed love for things gives people permission to love them too.
It’s in this tentative yet passionate spirit that I share with you my love for a mystery/romance choose-your-own-adventure storygaming app called The Arcana Game – and as its name suggests, it is based on the tarot.
There’s a million reasons I love this game that I thought was going to be totally cheesy when I downloaded it for funsies while stoned a couple weeks ago.
First, it’s really well done when it comes to tarot and magick. While it’s set in a fantasy world where magick happens a bit more literally than normal, the metaphors all track – characters communicate with each other telepathically on the astral, gateways to spirit are formed through deliberate portal creation, characters connect to their personal power through their relationship to the archetypes of the Major Arcana, and magick is described as an energy that can be sensed, in a way that feels true to form.
Secondly, the story is impressively trauma-informed for being a storygaming app. Memory loss forms the basis of much of the plot in a metaphor that rings true to the dissociative amnesia that can happen during traumatic events, and the main character (you) struggles to piece together their past. Meanwhile, other characters reveal their traumatic histories (being orphaned, losing loved ones, being abducted by pirates, being subjected to medical experiments during the plague, being made to serve as a gladiatorial combat executioner in order to protect a friend) and the realistic ways they’ve been affected by them. It was almost shocking how refreshing it was that the Coliseum, the location of gladiatorial trials, isn’t presented as a place of victory and celebration but as one of harm.
Third, the degree of representation is impressive. The first thing the app asks you as the player is your preferred pronouns – and your character can be played seamlessly as any gender. Of the three potential love interests you may choose from, one is cis male, one is cis female, and one is canonically non-binary although male-bodied and uses male pronouns. There are characters who hail from fictional places that liken to Italy, Russia, South Asia, and the Middle East, and none of them are cringey stereotypes. They/their pronouns are used on a lot of minor characters who aren’t in the story long enough to get a sense of their gender. And none of it feels like pandering – it just feels like the game was created by people who get it.
And perhaps most importantly, even though it’s a romance game with multiple partner options, there’s not even a shred of glorified toxic heteronormativity in the game – and, crucially, no jealousy plotlines. Whichever characters you choose to romance with, the others are happy for you and want the best for you, even if they may have feelings about it. In fact, some of the other characters have had emotional histories with each other before, and pretty much all the main characters seem pansexual, even if some are more secure about it than others. (There is also a really hot guy-on-guy scene flashback, not gonna lie.) They don’t always behave perfectly, but their trauma response behaviors are presented transparently and without glamorization, and even in their dysfunction you can see the kindness of their hearts as they act out of oft-misguided self-sacrifice while genuinely trying to become better people.
This also means that playing this game is kind of like a flight simulator for a healthy relationship, and having all the characters express their love and admiration for you is, no joke, a great way to anchor in the vibration of receiving adoration (especially if you’re stoned while playing it). If you, like me, are a practicing magician who is undergoing work on themselves for the purpose of transforming their relationship to the idea of relationship, I can’t recommend this game enough. Remember that the fastest way to our healing is through play, because whatever is play is already putting us in the vibration of purity and joy.
The downsides?
The game is free, but you only receive three free “keys” per day to unlock chapters, and most of the super romantic scenes require additional payment to unlock. Permanently unlocking each book costs like $10-$15, so consider ten (for now) books for each of three character plotlines, and we’re into hundreds of dollars for what in MY day in PRINT form used to cost like twelve bucks. But honestly I like this game so much that I kinda want to give them all my money, and at some point when I have ridiculous getting-business-coaching-from-Adam Lyons level income I’ll probably just buy the whole thing and think of it like how also in my day we used to donate $200 to PBS for a mere VHS tape of Les Mis in Concert.
The other downside is that it isn’t finished yet, and currently the chapters only go up to the Devil card. But this just means more of you should download it and then get addicted to it and spend your money unlocking it like I did so that they can have the funds to finish it, ok? Help me out. They left me at a real cliffhanger yall.
So if your jam is my jam, I’ve left the Wikia entry in the comments, go check it out. There are mad spoilers in the Wikia so avoid if you crave suspense, but honestly I don’t even think that would affect the enjoyment of the story. If anything I found it enriching.
I want to geek out on it more so tell me in the comments here if you get it and dig it. Please don’t mention your relationships with Julian and Asra however because they are both definitely my boyfriend and whatever you have with them can’t possibly compare to our infinite and eternal love.
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