Game Review: Card Thief

Card Thief is a solitaire-style card game that uses stealth to navigate manors to steal their loot. Tired of puzzle games with bright colors and annoying slot-machine sound effects? Ever join the Thief’s Guild in Skyrim and you’d like to continue that life of crime without actually going to jail? Can’t wait to play your D&D rogue during your next adventure? This game will scratch all those itches.

Before we move onto gameplay, let’s give a hearty round of applause for this game’s graphics and sound design. From the layered scrolling hub (and all those details) to the macabre, dark style, the art direction is top-notch. The music and sound elements are equally as eerie and round out the full atmosphere of this game.

Card Thief also has several D&D easter eggs from the book on the guild master’s shelf to the D20 on the game board.


card thief gameplayManage your stealth, gather gems, put out lights, and sneak around guards. The object of the game is to grab the chest and take it down into the sewer without getting caught. Move your Thief Card to adjacent spots to clear as many cards as you can while maintaining a good level of stealth.

Thief Card: This card is always in play and starts in a random spot on the board. Pay attention to your stealth in the top, left corner. Tap the path you want to make and watch the resulting numbers on the Thief Card. You have to use a minimum of two moves at a time. If satisfied, press and hold the Thief Card to complete your turn.

Door Card: When dark, the door card takes zero stealth to occupy. The door is locked if a light is shining on it.

Boot Card: Boots grant you additional stealth. The more cards you pass through in a round before you collect it, the more stealth the card adds.

Barrel Card: Use the barrel to hide. When it’s the last card you land in your turn, it restores your stealth to ten. You could have 1 stealth left or 9, either way, you’ll go back to ten. Knock out some guards and lights before you use one to better utilize your stealth.

card thief stolen goodsChest Card: The chest will always appear at the deck’s half-way point. For every round you don’t collect it, the chest gains a level. Remember, you can only pick up the chest if your stealth meets or exceeds the number on the chest. Picking up the chest will take that much stealth from you. Keep a Barrel Card close when aiming for high-numbered chests.

Chests contain insignias from the castle you lifted them from as well as a number of Stolen Goods. I’m not quite sure what Stolen Goods are used for, but they appear as a collection in the Stolen Goods tab in the Hideout.

card thief gameplay endEscape Hatch Card: This card is always at the end of the deck, and you must collect this card to end your game. The hatch is locked if a light is shining on it.

Torch Card: Torches shine a light on adjacent cards. Light increases the amount of stealth it takes to clear guard cards. It also reduces boot cards to 0 gained stealth and locks all doors and hatches.

Gem Bag Card: These cards don’t take stealth. They give you gems, and the gems can accumulate depending on darkness and number of steps prior to picking it up.

Guard Cards: Watch out for their focus indicator to tell which way the guard is looking. If you are illuminated, and the guard card is facing you with a higher stealth cost than you have, you will be caught. Clearing guard cards from behind switches their stealth cost to a coin-earn cost. Less stealth is needed to clear a guard in the shadows. Turn out those lights!

Later levels have guards holding torches, double-headed guards that can see in two directions, screeching owls, and dogs who can’t be snuck up on. Take some time to learn their abilities and the best way to navigate them.

Goblin Card: He won’t turn you in if you land on him, but be prepared to fork over a few gems.

Trap Cards: Trap cards, like the hanging glass bottle full of bugs, can only be disarmed if your stealth is higher than their cost. Unlike other cards, if you disarm a trap, it does not subtract from your stealth. If you clear this card without high enough stealth, it will alert every guard around it to your location.

card thief power upsPower-Ups: You can use any of the unlocked power-ups free of cost during your heists. However, you can only carry three at once in your inventory. This includes space for your chest. If you start with three power-ups, you’ll need to use one before you can pick up the chest. Power-ups include a one-time stealth increase, a water arrow to put out torches, distraction devices to make guards look in different directions, etc. They all have their uses. Plan wisely.

The World Hub

Map: There are four estates that need looting. Each estate has their own insignia, and you’ll need a specific number of that estate’s insignias to unlock the next mark. Each location has new cards not found in previous ones and has an increased in difficulty.

Daily Heist: A match that resets once a day. See how you compare to other daily questers.

Guild Master: The Guild Master opens chests for you. Each chest (after the first few) will take an hour to open. If you pay $2.99 for the game, chests open instantly. The Guild Master also has a section for unlocking and switching power-ups.

Hideout: The goblin at the Hideout desk gives you three options for competitive play in the form of contracts. Each contract has unique stipulations that aren’t present in the regular game. These include starting with 100 stealth and being unable to gain any during the game or playing the game backward. You can only work on contracts if you’ve met the requirement listed on the goblin’s chalkboard for each one.

Final Thoughts

This solitaire card game is as beautiful as it is tough. It can take some time to figure out how to best manage your stealth. Don’t feel discouraged if you start by losing your first several rounds. I did. You’ll hold your breath at each pass around the card table, and each chest is a rewarding heist. It’s a unique solo card game perfect for stretching the mind and unwinding in an intricately fascinating atmosphere.

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