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Card Shark Review

Card Shark

Developer: Nerial
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $19.99 USD – Available Here


What’s great about independent games is that they have more room to experiment. Card Shark is the perfect example of that; it’s a game that allows players to become master con-artists in playing cards. This is an interesting idea that hasn’t been done previously.

Nerial, the studio that created the game, is not new to experimental games. They have already worked on other games that also have unique concepts.


The game is set during the 18th century before the French Revolution. The story follows an alternate version of French history. Most of the characters are based on real historical figures such as Diderot or d’Alembert, and all of the cities present in the game exist in real life.

Our hero is an ordinary young man living in a tavern. His only particularity is that he’s mute. After meeting the Comte de Saint-Germain, a known impostor, his life will change. The Compte will teach him a simple card cheating technique. But as the pair try to trick someone, they are discovered, leading to the hero’s caretaker’s death. He will then follow and live with the Comte, who will teach him more cheating techniques involving playing cards.

We follow the characters as they try to undercover the truth behind a royal conspiracy known as “the twelve bottles of milk.” The writing is not exactly where the game shines. The main characters are written well enough, but the story as a whole isn’t very engaging.


Card Shark is best enjoyed with a gamepad, the game says so itself, the gameplay is simple to understand but can sometimes be hard to master.

The different cheating techniques become more complex as the game progresses. It’s great because it gives players a real sense of progression when they’re able to achieve tricks that are harder to execute.
The gameplay consists of minigames, some are purely time-based while others require more reflection to be executed correctly. It is incredibly satisfying to cheat successfully.

Explanations regarding the tricks are clear and easy to understand. If they need a reminder, players can read over them again at any time. When a new cheating technique is unlocked, players can practice them as much as they want to, to fully understand it.

Overall, the game tries its best to be accessible; even someone that isn’t familiar with cards can play the game, thanks to added explanations regarding suits and the different values of cards.
The characters travel through France with the help of a map. Most of the time, multiple locations are available at the same time, meaning that players will not be stuck even if they don’t master a technique yet.

The challenge mostly comes from the suspicion meter our opponents have. Players have to be quick when they cheat, or the person they try to deceive will get more and more suspicious. At the beginning of each round, players have the possibility to pick how much money they want to bet. Still, they have to be careful because the opponent becomes warier as the amount increases.

There’s a minimum betting amount, and players can be left with 0 livres if they fail multiple times in a row. But in this case, there’s dedicated parts of the map where players can go if they need to make money. If the suspicion meter reaches the top, our character will either be jailed or killed. Fortunately, except at the highest difficulty level, death isn’t permanent.

A lot of effort went into the game to make it as accurate as possible. All of the cheating techniques are based on real-life card tricks.

Apart from playing cards, our hero will also take part in sword battles which also launch minigames. There’s a pattern to remember and execute on time.


Even though the graphics are very simple and not very detailed, the art is charming. It was achieved via monoprints, a technique that consists in creating individual painting stamp marks and then putting them on top of one another.


The music has been made with historical accuracy in mind. It is memorable and fits perfectly with the game’s theme and scenes. Some tunes are melancholic, and others are joyful based on what happens in the context of the story. The sound effects are really convincing, especially those created for the cards, which sound very authentic.


Card Shark is an excellent example of how independent games can offer players a unique gaming experience. Its story is rather lackluster, and the minimalistic art style might not appeal to everyone, but the smooth, interesting gameplay and the one-of-a-kind concept make it a game worth playing.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.


Card Shark's premise is that it allows players to become masters at deception. Our hero will be able to deceive his competitors and gain a lot of money. Card Shark is a solid game with an unique concept.
Marie Brisou
Marie Brisouhttps://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/
I really don't know what I'm doing with my life except when it comes to video games
<i>Card Shark</i>'s premise is that it allows players to become masters at deception. Our hero will be able to deceive his competitors and gain a lot of money. <i>Card Shark</i> is a solid game with an unique concept. Card Shark Review