Card Shark is a fun lesson in history and fraud

There is a sense of luxury, living in shark card, a fun and witty tension game that puts you in the roles of a gambler and a con man, cutting through a long-standing feud of 18th-century French society. The text is rich in humor and period details. , and woodcut-style artwork has rough textures, rich expression, and glows under candlelight. You can almost taste the wine and smell the straw.

Set to be released on Steam and Nintendo Switch on June 2, year shark card is a collaboration between Nerial – the developer owned by Devolver Digital’s King, a medieval monarchist – and artist Nicolai Troshinsky. It combines the sharp, colorful text and simple gesture mechanics of Nerial with the glowing artwork of Troshinsky, where the characters are animated like shadow puppets.

This art is used in the service of a wonderfully specific and flavorful storyline, inspired by Troshinsky’s interest in card manipulation and his love of the 1975 Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon. Players will play the role of a mute waiter in a shabby pub in the town of Pau, in the south of France. One day, a seemingly well-to-do patron, the Comte de Saint-Germain, kept an eye on the young man and engaged him in helping carry out a card game scam. As the game ends in violence, the boy runs away with this mysterious gentleman and joins his life on the road, trapping gamblers in living room after room as he pursues the truth behind the scenes. a rumored royal conspiracy with a ridiculous name: Twelve Bottles of Milk.

three minifigures sit at the same table in a room with a high ceiling with a large chandelier

Image: Devolver Digital

(Comte de Saint-Germain is a historical figure – though he goes by many names, his origin remains a mystery, and his achievements, adventures, and claims to and about him are eerie to the point of tension. This fantasy version of him is basically Ricky Jay in a powder wig and he’s great at taking his time.)

As the game progresses, Comte will teach you many real-world card cheating techniques, including card trickery, shuffling, card counting, and secret cues. There are 28 strategies in all, varying in challenge and complexity, with evocative titles like The Disheveled Gatherer and The Indiscreet Fingers. Some will be easy enough to do in the real world, while others will require extreme dexterity and training. In the game, these feats are reduced to simple gestures: a quick swipe or spin of the bar, well-timed button presses here and there.

That is because shark card It’s less about skills than it is about nerves. What is important here is smooth operation under pressure. Deception often requires you to perform quick calculations, commit cards or gestures to memory, or focus on two things at once. What cards are duplicated in this transferred deck? How do I make sure the third player around the table gets the best cards in the deal? There’s time pressure: As you go through each scam, your opponent’s gauge of suspicion builds, and the longer you do it, the more risk you take. Overconfident betting can also cause suspicion.

A young man pouring wine, peeking at a woman's hand

Image: Devolver Digital

It’s a stressful thing. Even the simplest technique can make you sweat – like pouring wine while sneaking a reading over your opponent’s shoulder. You need to do the pouring in a rhythmic manner by gently pressing on the rod, the wine is not too little, not too much; you need to keep one eye on the glasses and one eye on the card; Pour too hesitantly and you won’t get a good look, too fast and you won’t have time to memorize the cards. It’s a simple, effective, and well-balanced challenge.

It should be pointed out that shark card It’s not really about playing cards. The details of the game and hand are not specified, and they are not important. All that matters is the cheat implementation. In any case, you are Comte’s sidekick and you don’t play to win, but to help he Victory.

Based on a few hours of gameplay, it’s fair to wonder if shark card will build and combine its cheating strategies into more complex pieces, or if each situation equates to a brief lesson in a bit of human esotericism before you move on to the next technique. But I’m not sure I mind too. This is a unique, subtle and funny game that both teaches you the godly honest secrets of the card shark and transports you to another place and time. It’s a place where you can trick Voltaire out of his coin while enjoying a spot of Enlightenment philosophical joke. It was a time of gossip, scandal, humor and ghosts, where cheating was a way of life and the only thing you could trust was everyone else doing it.

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