[EDIT] Hah, I totally meant to have more in this review but it posted without me realizing. I’ll do a part two tomorrow.
I wasn’t that interested in Arcana Famiglia for whatever reason, but Rita recommended it to me and I’m glad I got it on her rec. It’s enjoyable, has some innovative narrative tricks, and some neat (although mostly unnecessary) gameplay.
Arcana Famiglia the game is based on a series of novels of the same name. I’m not sure if the stories are totally the same (apart from the character endings which I’m pretty sure had to be created fresh), but you can tell that the worldbuilding is solid.
First, if you’re not familiar with the Tarot, it’s a set of cards that has 22 special cards called the Major Arcana. In the story, the Major Arcana can choose someone as their bearer, marking them with a stigmata, and that person gains powers depending on which card it is. There are also some heavy penalties to pay; these factor heavily into most of the storylines.
The heroine, Felicita, is the daughter of a mob boss, Il Mondo, who takes care of a Mediterranean island called Legalo. He has several teams of workers, each headed up by a captain who is a Major Arcana. On his 59th birthday (he’s looking good I must say!), Il Mondo announces that in two months, there will be a duel between all the existing Major Arcana holders, and the winner will 1) take over the boss role of the Arcana Famiglia, and 2) get to marry his daughter. In addition, she will be confined to the family mansion for the rest of her life.
Well, as you might guess, Felicita (along with some of the Arcana) don’t think too highly of this, so she determines to win the competition herself. Unfortunately she’s not that strong yet, so she needs to train.
Once you get through the introduction nad meeting all the characters, you start moving through days, choosing who to visit each day. Depending on the day, each guy might have just a chance encounter (short), a character event, or a love event. The game is nice and indicates this with symbols on the map selection screen. During most events, your choices affect the affection level of the guys. Also, you can use your Arcana power of The Lovers to peer inside the guy’s hearts and get a glimpse of their thoughts, also raising their affection a bit each time.