Devolver Digital is back again with another game that’s as strange as it is unique. Card Shark is coming out early next month, and I was able to take a peak at the deck. I can’t imagine another game like this, so to simply call it original would be less than generous. But it can also be quite difficult, as some of the tricks it tasks you with are more complicated than I’d imagined and to the point where stress can easily set in. Still, it’s hard to not be intrigued by the style and contents of this game.
You play as a mute man in France. Not modern France, of course. Think more Les Miserables and you’ll have a good idea. Your character works at a tavern under a woman that has taken you in and watched out for you. One night, a gentleman called Comte de Germain seats himself at a table and clues you into the fact that he’s a card-based scam artist. He’s setting up a mark for later at your tavern and, if you’ll peak at his opponent’s hand, he’ll share the profits with you. The man returns later with his guest in tow, and you’ll then have to manage with Card Shark‘s first trick.
And it’s a pretty tricky one right off the bat. You have to spy the highest value card in the mark’s hand, and then communicate it to de Germain by wiping the table in certain ways. But you can only look as long as you pour wine in the mark’s cup. This gives you very little time to look, which was typically never long enough for me to actually see the cards. Regardless of how well you do here, the mark gets angry, pulls out his pistol, and things go awry, requiring your character to go on the run with de Germain.
It’s a decent set-up, with the hook being that your character is recognized for his con talents. This was a bit weird to me, as I’m horrible at things like this and my character completely whiffed his debut con. The basic gist is that you’ll frequently learn new tricks (there are more than a couple dozen) that vary from three-card-monte to jogging a deck so you can deal specific cards to your partner. You can choose from multiple locations on a map, as well as which marks will be there, and then go there and bet. The more you bet, though, the more suspicious your mark will get, which gives you less time to make your moves.
Unfortunately for me, the aforementioned trick where you look at cards while pouring wine makes a return. It gets more complex, and you need to not only signal details about the highest card, but the number of total cards of that suit in the mark’s hand. I was pretty much incapable of doing this, as I always ran out of time before pouring wine, so I found myself in a spot of bother. Still, I can’t help but appreciate Card Shark‘s premise, execution and sense of style.
I’m not sure how far I’ll be able to make it into Card Shark, or if I’ll even be capable of getting past the trick I’m stuck on (I’m also thoroughly confused by how wiping the table works), but I’m intrigued by the game enough to give it another try. If card tricks and watercolor artwork are up your alley, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on June 2 when the game releases. With all the tricks the game has up its sleeve, at the very least, you’ll probably learn a thing or two.