Played on: Mac, via itch.io & Android
Perfect for mobile, but with added depth than that implies, Card Hog plays great and is evolving fast!
I wasn’t keeping track very well, but I’m sure I’ve played Card Hog for at least an hour once I take into account play time across desktop & mobile, and the earlier revision I played some time ago. Card Hog is at that exciting point in a game’s lifetime when it’s full of ideas, and is being rapidly revised. Despite early stages, though, it’s available as an android app, a steam demo (windows only), and in-browser via itch.io.
Although I’m not really familiar with this style of game, it’s pretty accessible, in part thanks to the short tutorial which goes over the absolute basics. It’s a slight shame I couldn’t skip this demo when I cam back to the game later, but it’s quick, and I can hardly fault it for this since the current aim is to get people playing, even though they haven’t paid for it.
Once the tutorial is complete, you’re faced with a couple of different modes — story & endless — which don’t really warrant a lot of explanation here because a) they are still being worked on b) the gameplay is very similar between the two, right now. In general, your aim is to move your piggy playing card around the board (3x4 or 4x4), landing on other cards and dealing with the results. Attack enemies with your bare hands (trotters?) and you’ll lose lots of health. Pick up a weapon first, and you’ll fare better. Pick up a health card for a … health pick-me-up. Gather scrap to buy upgrades. Pick up coins for … some reason: score, maybe?
All-in, it’s a very ‘thinky’, strategic kind of affair. Although I sometimes found myself trying out a bunch of moves almost by ‘trial-and-error’, mostly I tried to at least think through the consequences of whatever move I was about to make. I’m usually not a *huge* fan of that kind of technique (chess is not really something I have the patience for!) but, fortunately, the gameplay in Card Hog seems quite approachable — it does a good job of making me feel slightly more clever than I really am.
See, you’ll often find yourself in a situation faced with trying to determine the lesser of two evils. Or, even more interestingly, a ‘bad’ move & a ‘good’ move — which might also be a bad move in the long-run. If you’re about to pick up a health card which gives you maximum health, it can be a better move to fight something first, since you have future income to repay the debt. If only I could game my own real-life finances in the same way!
Card Hog is, currently, an engrossing game with plenty of potential. It has a lot of depth courtesy of the quantity of different cards — weapons that work in almost every conceivable way, a large range of mobs and bosses to destroy — and there’s a lot of tactical thinking required to handle all these combinations. It’s very playable on mobile, too — the simple set of controls and the portrait layout lend themselves perfectly to such a device. It feels quite at home in much the same way that ‘tile-pushers’ such as Threes and 2048 do.
Bearing in mind this is only a demo, I think there are only two areas I’d really want addressing. First, I don’t think the graphics do a *great* job of conveying the nature of ‘cards’ — I didn’t really feel like I was playing a card game quite as much as I wanted to. And, second, I sometimes felt a bit in-the-dark regarding what the effect of a certain card would be, or how a certain weapon might act. More info. would definitely be welcome, although I wonder if the dev is holding back on that to increase the challenge. As the game is still a work-in-progress, though, improvements such as this will no doubt be made — it’s worth keeping your eye on Card Hog since updates drop pretty frequently.
Card Hog is developed by pig-aficionado ‘SnoutUp’ (Yes, SnoutUp has created other games featuring adorable porkers. Several, in fact…).