Date: May 11, 2022
Card Shark, developed by Nerial and published by Devolver Digital, looks to bring a new type of experience to playing poker. Instead of playing a traditional game of cards, you will cheat in order to guarantee a win against your opponents. This is definitely a new take in the card game genre, and also makes the stakes for winning much higher than they normally would be — this is because every game becomes a life or death situation.
In Card Shark, you play as a mute, nameless protagonist in 1743 France — I appreciate this being one of the rare games to give a reason as to why the silent protagonist is silent, even if it’s something as simple as he’s just a mute. One day, a man named Comte de Saint-Germain gives you an offer to make some extra money. It sounds simple at first: all you have to do is help him win a card game. However, you find out quickly that your poker opponents do not take it well when they’re cheated, and things get violent.
From there, the Comte takes you under his wing, and you find out that he is part of a larger group of people that takes money from the rich to give to the less fortunate. You then begin your journey, learning new ways to cheat at poker as you make your way around France. The story of this game isn’t just about stealing money in Poker, however. The Comte is trying to learn information about a mysterious event that happened in the past, and by assisting him with poker games, you’re also helping him to uncover secrets.
The gameplay involves you using various techniques to cheat during a poker game, in order to give the Comte the advantage so he can win. You perform these cheats in different ways, including moving your analog stick in a specific direction, pressing the correct buttons, and more. You will also be required to memorize cards for certain cheats.
You learn a new cheat on almost every level; they start off simple, but will slowly become more complicated as you progress in the game. Some even combine multiple cheats into one (some of which the Comte will ironically call simple). Luckily, as you’re learning a new cheat, you will be able to practice it (and all the steps individually if there’s more than one) as much as you want before going to the real game. Card Shark even explains card suits and values to you if you’re not used to playing any kind of card game.
Once you’re in the game, your goal will be to take as much money from your target as possible without getting caught. While performing a cheat, there will be a bar with their face moving from left to right — this indicates how close they are to catching you. Before each round, you will place a bet on how much money you want to put on the line. The bet will automatically be raised each time you win, but you can raise it even more if you’re feeling confident in executing the cheat. However, raising the bet will instantly raise your target’s suspicions about you.
If you take too long and get caught, you will be killed. Retrying does not work like it normally does in other games, however — you will have to earn your chance to come back to life. Once you die, you will meet Death herself, and you will have to beat her in a game of cards in order to gain your life back. If you succeed, you will go back to before you met your current target. However, if you fail, you will either have to pay Death all of your money to come back, or have your soul taken, which will completely delete your file.
So far Card Shark looks to be a fun twist on the card game genre, and one that puts a lot more pressure than these games normally would. I’m hoping as the So far, Card Shark looks to be a fun twist on the card game genre, and one that puts a lot more pressure on the player than these games normally would, especially with its unique respawn system. I’m hoping as the game progresses further, we get to find out more about the Comte himself, and why he’s so interested in whatever it was he’s trying to discover. The game releases for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam on June 2nd, but you can check out Card Shark for yourself now — a demo is currently available on Steam.