Devolver Digital has a knack for finding those games that are on the fringe, but still manage to have exceptional gameplay. Card Shark feels like another such game, and it’s one of the titles I’m anxiously looking forward to.
Card Shark is an adventure game with an underlying premise of unscrupulous cardplay. In it, you play as a mute who is unwittingly thrust into an adventure that requires you to lay aside morality in favor of greed. But don’t get caught, because this is 18th century France, and honor is at stake. While I was going into Card Shark expecting a card game with social intrigue on the side, what it is is much different—and incredibly appealing.
In Card Shark you’re not really just playing cards—you’re playing your opponents. The idea is to cheat in various ways, using real world techniques, to win your hands. You’ll employ sleight of hand, mirrors, signaling, false deals, and more in an effort to outmaneuver your opponents. Don’t let them catch on, however. If you’re caught, it can mean your death. You won’t just be thrust into card room after card room though. Card Shark requires you to master your deceitful craft while hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with elites so you can pick out the mark that gives the best payout. And while most of these card techniques are done through quick-time events, Card Shark’s real world cheating techniques are, at the very least, incredibly fascinating.
18th century France society is as glamorous as it is ugly, and Card Shark’s art style is a great representation of that. Card Shark is presented in a gorgeous watercolor-like artwork by Nicolai Troshinsky. It’s a striking visual style that I haven’t really encountered before in a video game, and is tied together with an orchestral soundtrack by Andrea Boccadoro.
If you’ve ever wanted the feeling of pulling of sleight-of-hand style card tricks without hundreds of hours of practice, Card Shark can help you get a glimpse into that life—without the real world consequences that can come with it. I enjoyed the time I spent with Card Shark’s demo, and you’ll get a chance to play it, hands-on, during the upcoming Steam Next Fest.
Card Shark will be available in 2022, with a playable demo available this week on Steam.
A Steam demo was provided to us for this preview.