You probably haven’t heard of Nyx Hydra. Their biggest success to date has been Egg!, a FTP Tamagotchi game in roughly the same vein as Neko Atsume. Egg! isn’t Stately Play material, but it is cute and doesn’t push the IAP too hard. But I’m not here to talk about Egg!, a game I would never even have discovered it it weren’t for The Arcana, a passion project they’re currently seeking Kickstarter funding for.
The Arcana is a visual novel about a young mage with a knack for tarot divination who is unexpectedly propelled into a world of political intrigue, old feuds, and new romance. Nyx Hydra’s demo (on iOS and Android) reveals little of the plot, serving instead to showcase the game’s beautiful art (by Dana Rune) and nuanced characterization (written by Nikolai Ladizinski).
The tarot is central to this game, and someone at Nyx Hydra knows their tarot. This will be their second tarot game: the first, Vivi’s Daily Tarot, featured a cute animated cat doing “card of the day” readings for the player, and is completely free, apparently existing for it’s own sake.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m in love with this project. The fantasy world of The Arcana is original and diverse, and I don’t know how anyone could avoid falling in love with the “boyish” Asra and his albino serpent, Faust. That’s not to slight Countess Nadia, who just drips authority and driven passion, and Julian, the disgraced doctor, who will tip the scales for anyone who’s into brooding men wrapped tight around their own secret pain.
A particularly pleasant note for me was the option to choose your pronouns: he, she, or they. I think this is the first game I’ve played that explicitly included nonbinary/gender-neutral pronouns, and one of a very few with any form of nonbinary representation. There are other, subtler cues that, rather than catering to a mainstream audience, The Arcana is a straight-inclusive queer game: I love that! Reminds me that I need to catch up on Longstory, another brilliant, inclusive story game.
When I first saw The Kickstarter for The Arcana, it was half-funded with a week to go. Now they’re fully funded and adding stretch goals with a little over two days left in the campaign. Nyx Hydra says they’ll be able to deliver the next episode of The Arcana within weeks of funding, as the game engine’s complete and some of the content is as well.