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Card Shark Review – An Ace in the Hole

Card Shark Review - An Ace in the Hole
PC

Card Shark Review – An Ace in the Hole

A winning hand that is simply a joy to play.

Card Shark on PC

There is pretty much an extensive collection of games out there available to fulfill any kind of fantasy a player might have. You could be taking to the skies in realistic aircraft or enjoying a horror-filled night at camp; anything you can think of, there’s probably something for you. Now, if you were looking for a game that tests not just your smarts, but also your dexterity in high stakes card games, then Nerial and Devolver Digital’s Card Shark is definitely the game you are looking for.

With the art of the con a key element of the experience in Card Shark, the game invites players into the 18th century, dropped into the arena of nobility and aristocrats, and sets you loose. As a fledgling under the mysterious Comte de Saint Germain, you will learn to master a number of tricks and sleights of hand to scam those of a higher station of not just their riches, but also their juicy secrets.

Card Shark 18th century

Even with the card games as the main attraction, the surrounding narrative and characters that star in the story make for excellent entertainment. As players get more involved in the Comte’s plans, the intrigue and depth of how high society goes about its business will reveal themselves, and the addition of historical figures, albeit played up to the extremes, also lend a distinctly amusing flavor to the entire experience.

And at the heart of it all is the Comte, perhaps the most well-fleshed out character of the bunch, bringing a voice of reason wrapped in a cloth of evasiveness and scheming, equally enthralling but also a product of the system that he is trying to bring down.

Once you understand your role to play, the real action kicks off as your patron helps you practice the setup and execution needed for the particular target in the comfort of a carriage ride. Even so, you won’t be getting to the table just yet; after all, you are but of a lowly station. Instead, players will take advantage of this social imbalance with a roving eye, spying on the various players and giving hints to the Comte to help him win.

Card Shark sleight of hand

It won’t take too long before a more active role comes your way, as Card Shark introduces more complicated ways to affect the proceedings, ranging from advantageous shuffling, marking cards, or even switching out entire decks. Your role will also expand alongside the increasingly convoluted plans, and it is absolutely a joy to see just how far these plots can go, and the importance of your role in all of it.

Of course, it isn’t going to be that easy running a scam, and success comes from being as deft with your hands as your mind. Certain events can only be set in motion with the right inputs or giving the right signals. Being aware of the situation and the cards at play will also be important, with every action, however insignificant it may be, potentially holding the key to a smooth operation.

With all that complexity, Card Shark takes things up a notch by putting players in the proverbial spotlight, where trying to do too much or poor execution will only rouse the suspicions of the authorities. By immersing players in a pressure cooker of time, accuracy, and precision, it makes the gameplay that much more rewarding, especially if one has taken the necessary time and effort to master all the arts of deceit and has laid out the perfect plan.

Card Shark gameplay

Unfortunately, things don’t always pan out the way you envisioned, and Card Shark does make things even more interesting for players on occasion. This could be a sudden twist in the games, forcing you to think quick on your feet and move your hands even faster. Should you find yourself on the losing end, there may even be a need to build up your capital once more before attempting a daring scam. No matter what players might find themselves needing to do, more often than not, Card Shark makes it fun and engaging.

Whatever the path may hold, all that players can and would experience in Card Shark is beautifully put together, with a fascinating narrative matched by a vibrant and outstanding aesthetic, and propped up by wonderfully inventive gameplay that puts the player in the eye of the storm. In fact, it almost feels like the game has everything stacked in its favor, just like the different plots at play in the quiet confines of high society.

Review Block

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award

Card Shark

4.5
/ 5

Great

Card Shark Critic Review
Reviewer: Jake Su | Award: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.

Pros

  • Excellent writing that helps the characters and actions shine.
  • Gameplay is inventive and a joy to master.
  • A test of both mind and body.
  • Vibrant visuals that perfectly matches the era.

Cons

  • Trying to build up capital after a loss can take a while.
Release Date
June 2, 2022
Developer
Nerial
Publisher
Devolver Digital
Consoles
PC, Nintendo Switch
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