Card Shark is set in France in the 18th Century, where you play as a young man with an inability to speak. You have been taken under the wing of Comte de Saint-Germain. This being after a fateful incident leaves you with no choice but to flee from your hometown. The Comte teaches you how to swindle and cheat your way to riches! In exchange, you use these exploits to attain some deep and dark secrets from some very powerful people. And all this is being done through simple card games no less. This narrative is absolutely fascinating and has some real surprises up its sleeve. The more I learned, the more questions I had, and this made me deeply invested into the story.
So when do we play cards?
Before diving into the game’s mechanics, I will mention that at no point during your time in Card Shark will you actually play a game of cards of any kind. Your role is to cheat in any way that favours your partner-in-crime. Whether that be through peaking at an opponent’s cards and signaling through specific actions, such as how you wipe the table, how you hold a glass, or how you put down a card, to stacking the deck so that the Comte comes out on top.
What’s really fascinating about the various card techniques in the game is that they are actually based on real world sleight of hand card tricks used by magicians and swindlers. However, much like the real life version of these tricks, these manipulations range from very easy to very difficult. You have to ensure that you are precise with the card movements. And you are also running against a clock, that is the opposition’s increasing suspicions of your antics.
So what do you actually do in Card Shark then?
Most of the gameplay is in the form of minigames, which is where these card tricks take place. Most of the input sequences are also quite simple, but require you to remember cards, patterns, as well as move the deck around as needed. There are so many different techniques to learn! I would recommend practicing quite a lot of them, as you won’t always be able to use the same ones that you have mastered early on.
Aside from the card games, there really isn’t much to the gameplay. With only the occasional side scrolling section which is essentially just moving from one side of a particular room to another to interact with a person or object. However, this is all that is needed for Card Shark, as the story is what drives this game along!
The Beautiful Atmosphere in Card Shark
Card Shark’s art style is absolutely gorgeous! The monoprint design that has been used for the game really helps it to stand out. The stunning backdrops to each of the scenes are truly astounding. They make Card Shark’s visual design one of its best features! The music in this game is also fantastic. It sets the scene perfectly for this time period, and has a great mix of elegance and ominousness which mirrors what is occurring on screen excellently.
Card Shark is filled to the brim with intrigue and mystery. Its simplistic gameplay is enjoyable, but the narrative is where Card Shark really shines! It may be a lot more minimalistic in design, but it’s 8 hour playtime means that it doesn’t outstay its welcome!
By Samuel Incze
Card Shark features a surprisingly deep story with much mystery surrounding its fascinating, and somewhat dubious characters. The simple game mechanics and stunning art style really makes for a title that is really unique. The minimalist approach to the gameplay is welcomed and the 8 hour play time ensures that no part of Card Shark feels overused or repetitive! This is definitely one for your Nintendo Switch library!
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Devolver Digital. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.