Chicago-based artist Winslow Dumaine sure likes Dark Souls. Just check out his Jailer Halloween costume from a couple years back. He’s also big on Silent Hill, hence his double life as the Mayor of Silent Hill, who tweets often about the never-ending nightlife and healthcare problems plaguing his small town. If it’s not already obvious, Dumaine’s big on stories about decay and hubris, with deep mythologies running throughout. It’s why games like Dark Souls and Silent Hill are cited as major inspirations for his biggest project yet, The Tarot Restless: Third Edition.
Now on Kickstarter, and nearly funded in under a day, The Tarot Restless: Third Edition is the kind of collector’s item I wish games came with, not the cheap plastic paraphernalia and fold out maps collecting dust in the closet.
Content warning: Some of the cards are pretty darn graphic and go far beyond what you’d see in Dark Souls, though they meet Silent Hill at the top of Psychosexual Mountain.
While it’s not an official tie-in, Dumaine’s cites his influences up front, and the Tarot Restless is the kind of thing we’d want Dark Souls and Silent Hill to know about, explicit references or not. While the infamous difficulty of Dark Souls is the public face of From Software’s baby, it’s the deep mythology, harrowing mood, and perfectly restrained storytelling that’ve kept people like me playing for years and an entire cottage industry of lore and cut content YouTubers lively since 2011.
Each of The Tarot Restless’s 100 cards, many of which are new or redrawn for the third edition, come with their own short story and illustration that ties them into the greater Restless universe. The basic context: a surreal fantasy world is experiencing a world-rending infertility apocalypse—hence the fancy new card backs featuring a vortex of spermatozoa. They’re a lovely centerpiece for any coffee table!
Each set of the third edition comes with the original 78 cards (12 redesigned), the 12-card Zodiac Retrograde expansion (next time someone asks for my sign I’m showing them a fucked up Sagittarius), the 10-card Oracle Inimical expansion that details some big events in the Restless universe, and a copy of Restless Meditations, the big guidebook of short stories for each card. It also tells you how to do your tarot readings, which is nice for cosmic dummies like me. The cards come with a nice little box, too, as you’d expect.
I own a copy of the first edition, and love it for the Restless story and breadth of grotesque art alone, but also for how close it hews to the process of decoding the story of Lordran during my first few playthroughs of Dark Souls. Connections form, patterns emerge, and you slowly get the vague sense of a greater whole without the explicit, linear narrative. Yeah, it’s a tarot deck, but my experience with the first edition was more like a nonlinear visual novel, a story I splay out on the floor and live with for a while.
But there’s a $10 digital version too, which is a pretty damn good deal if you just want to study the art and story. Speaking of digital—someone should make a game with Dumaine in the Restless universe already.
I don’t often divine my fortune using my own first edition deck, but I will lay them out or sift through them when I’m in a creative rut or unable to articulate my emotions—there’s usually a card to latch onto or work through. More often, I just want a quick flash of mood and lore, baby. And with the gulf between the last Dark Souls game and Elden Ring growing everyday (I’ve lost hope for another Silent Hill), I’ll gladly take my horrifying fantasy folk stories in card form.
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