Card Thief brings the stealth genre, which typically struggles on mobile devices, to your tablet or phone of choice… and makes it look easy. Not only does Card Thief take your breath away with its surprisingly deep sneaking, but you’ll be laughing all the while at its charming world of raven-masked thieves, grumpy guards, and mysterious underground workshops. Whether you’ve mastered Thief 2: The Metal Age or are just a casual card game fan, there’s a lot to love here.
The conceit of Card Thief is deceptively simple. A set of nine cards are placed before you, one representing your thief, and all others are various parts of the environment. They might be guards, hiding places, treasure, or unique opportunities. You can move among them vertically, horizontally, or diagonally from one card to the next, chaining them all together each turn. All withdrawn cards are randomly replaced with new hazards and boons.
Your end goal is a gamble to hold out as long as you can before grabbing the chest at the end of each level. Every turn you tarry is another chance the guards might find you, but also sweetens your final reward if you can achieve a successful heist.
Your success is handled by simple numerical values associated with every card. White numbers count towards your total stealth points, such as from sneaking around or hiding in a barrel. Blue numbers take away from your stealth points, such as for knocking out a guard. Unique cards like traitors have their own quirks, such as the aforementioned disloyal guards taking some of your loot in exchange for their services.
You also slowly unlock equipment between each run, starting with a simple stealth point boosting cloak, but soon receive additional items that can let you swap with enemies and manipulate the deck to your advantage.
Thanks to the card-based nature of each level, every run is immensely replayable, with distinct encounters that push your skills and make you really think about the most ideal route, not just for your current turn, but what’s coming up next. It’s exceptionally intuitive and satisfying to tinker around with – in no small part thanks to a gorgeous visual aesthetic and some spectacular sound design.
The further you go, the more you notice additional wrinkles to play with. Guards turn towards adjacent cards where you move, the costs of certain cards can vary depending on how creatively you string your movements, and sometimes it’s even worthwhile to expend all your stealth points if you can hazard the risk.
I haven’t a single complaint for Card Thief. It offers a substantial amount of polished, immensely enjoyable entertainment for free. It runs great, and I encountered no glitches to speak of. Why are you still reading this review? Go download Card Thief!
[review pros=”One of the best stealth games on mobile.” cons=”You have to wait for it to download.” score=10]
[appbox appstore id1186226470]
[appbox googleplay id=com.tinytouchtales.cardthief]