Lately, tarot card designs have appeared in many video games. Tarot cards have been assigned to different characters in Dragon Age: Inquisitionthey appeared as murals in Cyberpunk 2077have been character symbols in Character titles, and Final Fantasy 14 has a whole healing class based on them. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as many other decks have tarot designs.
Tarot cards have been used for hundreds of years, containing 22 major arcana as well as combinations of swords, wands, coins and cups. Today they are often associated with divination and the occult, but the original purpose of cards hundreds of years ago was actually to play games. As such, tarot and the concept of games have always been linked. As for why they appear as patterns in video games, it has a lot to do with a resurgence in tarot and how they can be used to tell stories.
The Resurgence of Tarot
A resurgence of the tarot has emerged a lot in the media and online discussions. Some think the resurgence is more about self-care than the occult, and they might be right. Rather than using the cards as some kind of fortune-telling method, many who read the cards today mention that the readings are useful for shedding light on different topics and for thinking critically about various issues. Solace is also found in the themes of the cards, which themselves show a sort of hero’s journey beginning with the innocence of the Fool and ending with the completion of the World.
This resurgence has influenced the video game industry. Looking at the cards and what they symbolize, a lot can be said with very little use of their imagery in story-driven video games. The meaning of the cards themselves are complex, allowing for interesting angles on the characters and themes of the video game with tarot card designs.
Video games with tarot patterns
Cyberpunk 2077 has an entire parallel quest related to the major arcana of the tarot. The side quest is aptly called “Fool On The Hill” and involves finding tarot graffiti around Night City. Each graffiti relates to a character or something that happens in the game. For example, the achievement Fool (symbol of potential) is awarded when V becomes a mercenary and the achievement World (symbol of an end of cycle) comes from the end of the main story. Each ending is also named after a major arcana, with the star (symbol of wishes and inspiration) being assigned to the Aldecaldo ending and the sun (symbol of happiness) being assigned to become a mercenary legend.
The recently released horror game The career also has tarot card collectibles. Each one collected symbolizes a choice in the game. For example, the fool is choosing how to tamper with the van and the devil (symbol of obsession) is whether to shoot Nick or not. Cards have appeared in a number of horror games due to their association with the occult, such as silent Hill has sported puzzles based on tarot cards in the past. Another example is house of murderin which Easter Ripper uses tarot cards with Easter eggs as his calling card.
The tarot has been in more than recent titles. He also appeared in some fairly old games. The Sega Saturn game, Mansion of Hidden Souls, used tarot cards as a sort of compass, with each piece associated with a different card. Another old title is literally about Tarot Cards, a 1987 puzzle game called The Fool’s Race.
Games have also often had fortune tellers who use tarot. In Quest for Glory: Shadows of Darkness, players could have their fortune read by an NPC. The cards that appear depend on where in the story the player is. It is the same in Curse of Monkey Island. In Max Payne, Lisa Punchinello uses tarot and leaves a fortune on the table that Max reads. Chihaya in personas 5 is also a tarot card reader.
Video game titles that use magic also often have tarot-based schools or courses. SaGa border has the Arcane Magic school, whose spells are based on Minor and Major Arcana. Astrologers in Final Fantasy 14 use tarot-based cards to give buffs and heal party members. Lucy of the shadow hearts The series also used tarot cards in battle (although they sometimes had negative effects on the party). Tarot cards have been used as spells in Ogre Battle. Apart from magic, they have also been part of equipable items such as wearable rings in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.
Most of the time, there are video games that associate their characters with specific tarot cards. Boss monsters in the house of death The series are usually based on tarot cards such as the Magician, the Moon and the Emperor. In the Character series, the mysteries are everywhere. The most recent game used confidants as major arcana and previous ones used minor arcana for demons, shadows and characters. Dragon Age: Inquisition used the major arcana for its characters, and sometimes the arcana symbols even changed based on player choices. For example, Solas can change from the Hermit (symbol of inner guidance) to the Tower (symbol of chaotic change). Apart from RPGs, Wild Hearts of Sayonara also uses the mysteries of the tarot in its tradition and its characters.
Some decks are also subtle about their tarot references. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of those titles, as its crests are all based on major arcana. For example, Seiros is the High Priestess (symbol of mystery and intuition) and the Beast is the arcana of the Devil. Even with games that don’t have a tarot, fans often create tarot cards of the characters and events, assigning them arcana based on their various traits.
In conclusion, there is already a ton of tarot in video games, and there will probably be many more in the future. Even those who aren’t interested in tarot, by playing video games, will probably learn a bit about tarot cards here and there. After all, cards are essentially building block symbols used in storytelling. After all, most players have seen characters like hermits, magicians, priestesses, emperors, and demons. In this tarot resurgence, video games have definitely entered the trend.
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