Card Thief – Something Unique and Wonderful

May 11, 2017
Card

Card Thief ties together an intricate concept with very clear, if hard to master, mechanics. The app description describes it as “solitaire-like” yet I’m not sure Card Thief is like anything. It has its own entire style of gameplay that sets it apart from any other game.

You are a thief, trying to break into various illustrious manners. You use “Stealth” as a resource to navigate guards positioned to obstruct and capture you, stealing their money and any gems that happen to be lying on the floor (as there tends to be in any good castle) until finally getting the treasure chest and high-tailing it out of there.

While this idea seems pretty simplistic, the mechanics are incredibly intricate. Each guard has a starting strength score that can be affected by any torch cards that illuminate them, which happens by adjacency. Any time something happens near them, like a fellow guard being knocked out or the chest being stolen, their strength rises.

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As you complete turns, cards you’ve removed (either by what must be cold blooded murder or simply stealing) get replaced by other cards from the deck, and any cards with an empty space beneath them cascade down.

This creates a sort of puzzle game wherein you find yourself not only dealing with the immediate cards on the board, but also needing to anticipate what the deck might draw next turn. Everything affects everything else, including a fair amount of randomness. Maybe you’ll draw a Traitor card and he’ll give you back some stealth, or maybe there’s a lovely, helpful barrel for you to hide in to completely replenish?

some games will lead you into thinking it’s about skill, when really it’s more about luck; it calls itself Poker, but really it’s Blackjack.

This random element is often a huge frustration in games of this type; some games will lead you into thinking it’s about skill, when really it’s more about luck; it calls itself Poker, but really it’s Blackjack.

Randomness in any game can tend to be frustrating, but it can also add variety and difficulty – however, Card Thief seems to have just the right amount of randomness to add an intriguing element of suspense to an otherwise simple game.

There is certainly a very limited amount of content in the game due to the only 10 available dungeons to explore, but the capacity for personal competition, of trying to beat your highscore and get through each level as quickly as possible, is massive. It becomes incredibly easy to lose track of time when trying to break through a new level when the deck seems so immensely loaded against you and then… it happens. You find the path needed to win and you make it out of there alive.

Card Thief manages to do something unique in a fairly simplistic stealth-based card game; it makes the player feel as though they are actually playing an active sneaking game. You feel tense and on the edge of your seat and then the game will suddenly provide intense catharsis on beating a level and escaping those incredibly grumpy guards.

You feel tense and on the edge of your seat and then the game will suddenly provide intense catharsis

Card Thief actually feels like a mobile game to come back to, again and again.

That is something incredibly rare.

Card Thief
Card Thief
Developer: Arnold Rauers
Price: Free+

 

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Sam Eskenazi

Sam is a YouTuber, Streamer & Games Journalist. He loves to cook and listen to the sound of his own voice, ideally at the same time.

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