Remember when Hitman GO reimagined the stealth genre on mobile as a turn-based puzzler? Well, Card Thief sort of does the same but adds – of all things – solitaire to the mix. And somehow, it works. In fact, it works really well.
Although not at first. Card Thief’s seemingly of the opinion the player should figure out how everything fits together without much help, and provides only the basics in an opaque tutorial. You’re then dumped in front of a three-by-three grid of cards, one being the titular thief, and left to figure out a path to victory.
In a sense, that’s meant quite literally. Card Thief has you tap out paths around the board, in order to steal gold from guards and other nasties, grab bags of gems, and occasionally hide in a barrel like a massive coward.
Much of the game hinges on your stealth points, which are depleted when you’re spotted. If they run out when you’re next to a guard, you’re hurled in the slammer. But you can use cunning to extend your journey, extinguishing lamps to shroud adjacent cards in darkness, or by coming at guards from the opposite direction they’re looking in, duffing them up and grabbing their bling.
After a couple of minutes of this kind of caper, a chest appears. This can be looted, although it grows in value the longer you leave it alone. Once all the cards in the deck have been dealt, an escape route appears. At which point you’ll probably be sitting there with a mild headache.
It’s a steal
But persevere and Card Thief starts to click. You figure out tactics to zoom about to best effect, and how cards impact on those around them. You unlock new arenas and tackle challenges to upgrade kit that can benefit your thievery. And experimentation is positively encouraged: you can change your intended path as often as you like before confirming it.
It’s a long way from matching suits, then, and not the most immediate of games. But Card Thief is also an innovative and rewarding mobile effort that gives you a little extra every time you play.