What do you think of when you hear about a mobile dating game? A high school-themed app mainly aimed at women, where they have to choose between the bad boy, the nerd, and the childhood friend, right? That’s what I thought, too, before I started playing The Arcana. And even though I felt like I was too old for this type of thing, I was instantly hooked.
The Arcana is a fantasy & romance game that takes you to a fantastic world, introducing many fascinating characters and allowing you to explore a magic realm. You can choose to focus on the romance part, you can enjoy the journey, or you can do both: it’s entirely up to you.
It is the first and only romance game I ever played, but I firmly believe that it’s one of the best out there for several reasons. Here are some of them:
1. It has a Unique Theme
As its name implies, the Arcana revolves around the Tarot. There are many references to the divination practice. Every route has 22 chapters, corresponding to the 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck. In addition to this, every character symbolizes one of the Major Arcana; you will even interact with them across the routes.
If these notions don’t mean anything to you, don’t worry! You don’t need to be a tarot connoisseur to enjoy the Arcana. The cards serve as a framework for the story, which brings us to the next point on my list.
2. The Alluring Story
You are a magician’s apprentice, living in Vesuvia, a whimsical city ruled by a widowed countess. You suffer from memory loss, but Asra, your master, has helped you and entrusted you with his magic shop. The blissful life comes to a halt as ghosts and signs of the plague scour the country. That’s the main story, but things get complicated from here.
Since it’s a dating game, the Arcana introduces six potential love interests, each with their own route, which follow a particular narrative. You can play multiple routes at the same time, depending on who draws your attention. I confess that I chose my first route simply based on the character’s design, picking the one that appealed to me the most. I was surprised in the best way possible, and that love interest is still my favorite one.
3. Diverse characters
I’ll try to describe the six love interests without giving away too much about them; that’s for you to discover!
⭐️ Asra: he’s a magician and your master who taught you to be yourself again after your accident; he likes to travel and to help you to improve your magical skills
⭐️ Nadia: she’s the countess of Vesuvia, a majestic presence with a taste for beauty and a fearless leader. She suffers from terrible headaches that will play an essential role in your future
⭐️ Julian: a former pirate, plague doctor, and amateur actor, he seems to have a close relationship with danger. After years of wandering, he comes back to Vesuvia to confess to a murder that tormented him all this time
⭐️ Muriel: the reclusive, sullen man who lives in the forest, along with Inana, a wolf. His scars hint at a violent past, which he doesn’t want to share. The future, however, might be more bright with you by his side.
⭐️ Lucio: the former Count of Vesuvia who doesn’t get what ‘being dead’ means. Arrogant and cruel, he strikes a deal with the Devil to get his throne back. However, your presence changes his plans in an unforeseen way.
⭐️ Portia: she’s Nadia’s trusted maid, who knows the castle’s secrets like no one else. Brave, curious, and fierce, she is the best partner you could ever ask for when discovering dark secrets and fighting evil.
They are all connected in one way or another, making constant appearances in the other’s routes. Apart from the main six, you will meet their families, mentors, and courtiers who play a significant role in the story.
4. Amazing Visuals
You can’t have a visual novel without a remarkable art style, and the Nix Hydra team delivered the perfect product. From carefully crafted backgrounds to detailed clothes and diverse character design, they put in a lot of effort to immerse the player in the game. I really don’t know what else to say at this point, so I’m going to let the official art speak for itself. Isn’t it gorgeous?
5. The Arcana gives you endless possibilities
⚡️ You can choose your name and pronouns and change them as many times as you want; therefore, you can create an original character with distinctive personalities for each route.
⚡️ Since The Arcana is a multiple-choice game, the story depends on your decisions. Although the plot follows a pinpointed route, you can unlock fun or romantic scenes if you make the right choices. Moreover, each route has an upright and a reversed ending, so it’s up to you whether you’ll enjoy a happy ending with your love interest or not.
⚡️ As stated before, there are six routes, which means you get to know six fascinating characters, each with their own story, complex personalities, and hidden past. Each route has a specific plot; playing all of them is like putting together pieces of a complex, whimsical puzzle.
6. Entertaining side-games
To unlock every new chapter of the story, you need keys and coins. You can get them by playing a few in-app entertaining games, such as spinning a wheel, get a tarot reading, and playing Heart Hunter. This last one is my favorite because you collect postcards from the love interests, which you can later trade for coins. I know it sounds a bit confusing, but in fact, it’s really simple and ingenious.
To sum up, The Arcana is a dating game that will convince even the skeptics to give the genre a try due to its captivating storyline, charming characters, and stunning visuals.
If you need more exciting apps for your phone, check out this list!