The Arcana is a visual story and otome game from Nyx Hydra played on the smart phone. The game introduces you as the main character, where you play as a magician’s apprentice. You are introduced to the three other main characters, Julian, Nadia, and Asra, all of whom you can romance. You are asked by Nadia to help her find Doctor Julian Devorak who supposedly murdered her husband, all the while your magic teacher, Asra, has gone on another mysterious adventure, leaving you to mind his shop.
The game is played through reading dialogue and responding based on prewritten options. Story Mode has different routes that you can follow, and in each you would be romancing a different character. You proceed through the game by unlocking the chapters with Keys that refresh every 8 hours. The story is continually updating, and updates usually occur at least monthly. You are also not confined to only playing one characters route. Because you use keys that refresh every 8 hours, you could simply play another characters route by using your keys on their story.
In the story you can also receive special options that allows you to spend in game “coins” to unlock a special scene, sometimes containing specialized art that you can access again under the specific character’s memory section.
Though you do not need to spend actual money to gain these coins. You can simply play one of three mini games.
The “mini games” with in the app, allow you to earn special prizes to help you in Story Mode. There is a Tarot option, where you can check in every day and earn 5 coins. After 7 days, you can get a free tarot reading from one of the three main characters.
You also have a Wheel of Fortune that you can spin one a day to earn Coins or trinkets. The trinkets can be collected to unlock a special scene between Julian, Nadia, and Asra.
The final minigame is Heart Hunter. This game is turn based, and allows you to chase Julian, Nadia, and Asra around Vesuvia to earn Hearts from them. If you get 4 hearts, you win! You have 6 turns, 3 during the day, and 3 at night. During the night, you can either play it safe, or go double or nothing to earn 2 hearts or none. When you win the game, you earn a post card from one of the locations where you earned a heart. This usually has a cute little message to accompany a picture. After earning all of the post cards in one section, you can unlock a treasure chest to earn coins, keys, or powerups for the heart hunter game itself.
The game itself is very inclusive. You can play as yourself, and at the start of the games you get to name your character and select your pronouns. Not only that, but other characters in the game identify as non-binary, such as Asra. You are also not limited to romances based on your gender, you can follow anyone’s route. The game is very inclusive for everyone no matter sexuality or gender.
While I don’t believe that any character has been specifically stated as trans, I know that the game’s developers when asked questions always answer in the positive towards inclusion, I would however encourage them to include it more openly as they continue to update the game.
The game itself is entertaining, you aren’t pressured into choosing a “paid” option, though it does come with benefits. The game also maintains a sense of mystery throughout the game, no matter which route you take. The pacing of each chapter is well thought out, and when playing all three routes at once, it is easy to see how the stories intertwine. The art style of the game also adds to its appeal, and creates something visually compelling. The characters are not stiff, but extremely expressive. You also have the chance to get to know side characters throughout the game, so if you are interested in characters other than the main three, they are not ignored in favor of Julian, Nadia, or Asra. The developers have also stated that they plan to add more romance routes other than the three that are available now.
The game succeeds in being inclusive, as well as fun to play. I would highly recommend checking it out on the app store. As previously stated, it is free to play, though there can be in app purchases. The game so far has kept me at the edge of my seat in terms of cliffhangers, and over all story telling points. I personally can not wait for the next update.
Nyx Hydra. The Arcana. IOS software. Apple App Store. Vers. 1.40 Nyx Hydra 2017, App Store