The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood Review – Utterly bewitching

Reviewed August 17, 2023 on PC


PC, Nintendo Switch


August 16, 2023


Devolver Digital



The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is the latest game from Red Strings Club and Essays on Empathy developer Deconstructeam. Five years in the making, it’s also the artful indie studio’s most ambitious. Your journey follows Fortuna, a witch that was exiled to an asteroid hurtling through space. Her crime? Using her aptitude in tarot, predicting the downfall of her coven. Already the table is set for an impactful and ever-changing narrative journey. It’s what it does with those ideas that are near astronomical and otherworldly.

The deep narrative takes front and center stage, something to be expected from the team when you consider how existential and prose-like in its writing their cyberpunk story of The Red Strings Club really is. It’s a similar ilk here, as the Cosmic Wheel keeps spinning, surprising, delighting, and even breaking the player’s heart at any given turn.

One of the very ways The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood tells its story is through the act of tarot-esque cards. At the very start Fortuna, in her miserable isolation summons a God-like figure. A Behemoth, known as the immortal Àbramar. With Àbramar’s help, she creates a new deck of cards. Fast forward a little further in the story and after being visited by a representative for the affairs concerning witches, Fortuna is granted access to visitors once more on the asteroid she calls home. From there, the story-telling device of reading cards blossoms.

These cards are used as dialogue options. Depending on what combination of material elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, or Air) the card is made up of, you’re able to make narrative decisions with how Fortuna interprets the cards and passes this information on to the visitor. I’m not all that familiar nor have I been previously vested in witchy aesthetics and Tarot cards. As a trans woman myself, that’s something of a cardinal sin when you consider how many others there are under that umbrella. That’s on me. However, through The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, I am more familiar with and enchanted by that world. Part of that is thanks to the gorgeous and utterly captivating pixel art and character design on offer. Large or thin. Black or white. Experimental with gender or as plain as day as they come, you learn there’s no wrong way to be a witch.

Through the game the tarot now also clicks with me by using it as a device to make sense of the world, your future and your past. Like the real world that you and I live in, both the human and witch world in The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is a whole can of worms. There’s beauty in love, family, friendships and passion, but there is just as much injustice, political messes and figures that meddle in individuals’ lives, playing God. Of course, some people then turn to religion and self-beliefs to justify meaning in a cruel and unjust world. Tarot is just one of those outlets. The game explores this exponentially, becoming very existential but also poetic and prose-like in its writing.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood tackles so many themes and it does them all expertly. Anxiety, self-harm, depression, gender dysphoria, love, loss. The list goes on. You begin to develop a real connection with each of the witches that visit you, no matter whether their role is small or significant. This is not only thanks to the aforementioned beautiful writing filled with flourishes but in the subtle animation work of a character’s sprite. You can see the little quirks and ticks a person has: tapping their fingers idly on the counter, their laughs, their blushes. You begin to not only fall in love with each character but with their soul.

It’s time I get solipsistic for a moment. Bear with me. Every now and then people will find a piece of art that feels so true to ones self it feels like it was made for them and them only. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is that for me. I’m a trans woman that has been almost on hormones for a little over a year and a half. In that time, I’ve been grappling with not how my body has been changing, but that it’s not doing so fast enough. I’m not quite the me I want to be yet. Consider how disarmed I felt then when a trans character that looks very much like me pre-transition popped up.

I won’t spoil much but the way the game explores this character. The writing supporting them with grace was some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen and that’s exactly why I play games. Maybe it’s the heartfelt writing. Maybe it’s the haunting and beautiful backing music and sound design from returning talented trans musician Fingerspit. Perhaps it’s all of it. All I know is I’ve never had a game feel like it was simultaneously holding my hand, telling me all will be ok, while personally penetrating my chest and touching my heart. Superb.

There are other ways to kill time at your home amongst the stars. Players can dispose of cards if they’re not working for them, netting them back the elements used to craft such a card. Fortuna can nap to advance time, study arcana, or engage in reading an interactive story where she makes choices along the way, all examples for Deconstructeam to show off their writing chops. Changing too can be the props you find in your home, depending on floral gifts and the like given to you by visitors. These are nice simple distractions and do well in boosting the homeliness feeling that the game has.

About four months ago I previewed the first hour or so of The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood. Never in a million years would I have guessed then how much deeper, moving, and beautiful the game goes. In its six or so hour runtime, you as Fortuna get better acquainted with the human and witch world. You’ll get to live out moments in time of Fortuna’s human life that have brought her to where she is today. Raw moments of self-doubt in her early days as a witch. How she came to be in the predicament she is today and you’ll also further reacquaint yourself with the coven you’ve previously been exiled from. What’s most unexpected is its third Act. Without spoiling much it plays very differently to everything prior, focusing and examining the politics of the world more than ever before. It’s a congruent segue away from everything you’ve seen up to this point and though it’s beautiful and eventually wraps everything up in a neat bow, it takes away from one of the best parts of the game which is the deckbuilding and creating of cards.

The rules and parameters for making cards are never harsh. Any given card is made up of a Sphere (the backdrop/environment for a card), Arcane (the character or subject of a card), and a Symbol (the props accompanying a character). You’ll get to mix and match each of these three parts, determined by how many of the aforementioned card elements you have at any given time. Other than that, the world’s your oyster.

There is no strict theme that a card must adhere to and you’re free to create and get inventive with it. If you want to choose the Sphere which is an opera theatre and have a dominatrix be the Arcane then by all means go ahead. This loose, low-pressure approach to designing cards is entirely true to the Tarot experience. No matter how weird an appearance one individual card may look, it, like Tarot is always open to interpretation, and that much is apparent from the different types of readings you can give a witch upon presenting a card.

The toolset for creating a card is incredibly intuitive but also opportunistic. The greater image of the Sphere is larger than what appears on the final product of the card, meaning you can pan an entire image until you find the perfect frame. Players can adjust the layers of an Arcane or Symbol so that something better meshes with the environment, whether that’s making it more clear a character is holding an object or using props in the background for further set dressing. Flipping, cloning, and the like of assets are easily done on the fly too. Before long you’re made to feel like a master cardsmith, even if you’re not particularly skilled in art.

Making cards and playing around with them and experimenting is so fun that I wish it was easier to get back into the thick of that creative process when the game’s rolled credits and you’re jumping in for a new playthrough. With an emphasis on branching narrative paths and world states due to the decisions you make, it’s clear replayability is at the forefront. Though that isn’t always the same in practice: players have to go through the same preamble to get the ball rolling again. Including a more streamlined re-entry or New Game + offering would’ve gone a long way on this front.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much just because of how bloody amazing The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is. It’s got the full spectrum covered whether that’s music, sound, world-building, or a heartfelt and moving story to boot. It’s not often games like this get to come to fruition, and it’s a bigger deal that it’s being published by Devolver Digital, one of the biggest indie publishers to date. I hope people show up and show their support for special titles like this.




  • Fantastic writing that feels like on-screen prose while tackling deep themes
  • Superb character design and pixel art
  • The best exploration of trans issues to date
  • Card crafting fosters enjoyable creativity while being low-pressure in design paramaters
  • Meaningful, heartfelt choices encourage replayability


  • Needs easier way to start up subsequent playthroughs

Deconstructeam has created its best game yet with The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, further cementing itself as one of Devolver Digital’s strongest studios. Every complex theme in the narrative, whether that’s mental health, isolation, trans or human rights, is handled with grace and written so beautifully it feels like prose on screen in front of you. Magnificent and captivating too is the pixel art and animation, distinguishing each witch and highlighting charming quirks. Never have I played a game so personal and handcrafted for me and never have I felt so fostered and supported in creativity and my livelihood through the simple magical medium of a video game. Becoming my own witch, crafting away at some cards, and settling in for some comfy vibes is something special. Something special that has to be experienced. Your must-play video games of 2023 aren’t blockbuster hits. They’re titles like this, needing to be seen to be believed and never done before.