Card Thief review
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Card Thief review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on March 20th, 2017
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: SOLITAIRE-Y THIEF
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The follow up to the excellent Card Crawl feels like it was made for diehard fans.

Developer: Arnold Rauers

Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Card Crawl is one of those games that never came off my phone after I installed it because of its simple premise, hidden depth, and endless replayability. Card Thief is the follow up card game from the same developer, TiNYTOUCHTALES, and it takes the ideas behind stealth games and puts them into a new, more complicated, card game.

Thief's the name, cards are the game

In Card Thief, you control a thief card as you sneak your way through a procedurally-generated building in hopes of stealing a treasure chest and slipping out before being captured. Your card is but one on a 3x3 grid, with other cards representing things like guards, locked doors, light sources, and more.

As you play the game, you make your thief move across at least two cards to execute a turn. When you do this, any cards you move across are interacted with, discarded, and populated with new cards.

To explain, a common scenario in Card Thief might involve your thief being illuminated by a torch with a guard next to you and jewels behind him. To deal with this, you might tap a path that moves you to the torch to extinguish it, followed by a move to take out the guard, and finally a tap to reach the jewels. When you commit to your turn, your thief will move to the jewels space and new cards will be dealt for the torch and guard that you eliminated. The game ends when you eliminate enough cards to make the exit appear and move your thief to said exit.

Stealthy Solitaire

This stealth gameplay sounds straightforward, but Card Thief complicates things with a bevy of interlocking systems. Every card on the field of play has a point value assigned to it, which determines its cost for you to interact with. At the start of every game of Card Thief, you have 10 stealth points, which you expend by interacting with most other cards.

If you run out of stealth points, you don't automatically lose, but you do run the risk of being captured if a guard spots you. Being spotted by a guard involves being illuminated by a torch while a guard is looking at you, as each card has its own equivalent of a vision cone.

If you find yourself out of stealth points, there are systems in place for you to earn them back. I would go into that, but that would lead to me needing to explain movement multipliers, unlocking and upgrading loot, and more. Just trust me when I say that Card Thief has got a lot more going on in it than Card Crawl ever did.

Replaying your robberies

Because of how much is going on in Card Thief, I had a hard time understanding exactly how to manage my stealth points effectively while earning a good score. That said, there are so many more things to do in Card Thief than get a high score that I always had plenty to do and felt like I was always working toward something, even when I didn't quite fully understand the game yet.

There are chests to steal which can grant currency to unlock new loot, side quests to upgrade existing loot, multiple decks to unlock, and even a daily challenge mode. Add to this the fact that Card Thief's myriad systems almost guarantee that you'll never have two playthroughs that are alike, and it's plain to see that Card Thief is a pretty compelling package, even if it lacks some nice quality-of-life features like iCloud sync.

The bottom line

I could see Card Thief being a disappointment to those who like Card Crawl's straightforward translation of dungeon-crawling into a Solitaire game. But, if you enjoyed Card Crawl and were hoping for a successor that would take its concepts to the next level, Card Thief just might grab a permanent spot in your game folder.

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