{VN Review} The Cards Never Lie~saguaro

The Cards Never Lie focuses on Claire, a fake psychic who is money hungry, who decides to help solve the murder of one of her clients, who was killed by another one of her clients, because it looks bad for business. That is a bunch of ‘who’s in that sentence. Oh well.

General Information:

  • Where to get: Itch.io page
  • Cost: The game is free
  • Time to beat: About 20 minutes

The game was made for a Ludum Dare, meaning it was made in two days. Naturally, that means it is incredibly short. Even so, there was quite a bit of content for the twenty minutes that it took to beat it. You can call Archie, Claire’s contact who gets personal information about clients (their marital problems, side girlfriends, etc), for $50 a pop. You can also look at note cards with already known information about her clients. Finally, you can call three of her clients and schedule meetings with them. Here you have to give them your ‘reading’ while saying leading things like ‘I sense you are having problems with money’ or ‘I feel like you and your wife are struggling’. Some things you say will make the person mad, but each person only has three questions you can ask, so it is easy to just save and load and see what does not make them as mad. One problem is that all three of the people are irritable, so even when you pick the right choices, it seems like you did not because they all leave in a huff. People can also come to your door and you can talk to them, though this only happens a few times.

While these features sound really cool, the game is so short that it is incredibly linear. So you start with $50. Two clients give you $25 if you do not make them mad, and the third gives you $50, meaning you have exactly enough to get info on everyone. There is not really any money management skills required, just do not tick people off. Another problem with calling for information is that even once you have gained new insight, it does not change your dialogue options, which makes getting more information feel useless. Not too important, but I did notice one grammatical error, and for a game that takes twenty minutes, I feel like it could have easily been proofread more.

Most of the time, the ‘white faces’ on black figures worked well, but for the next door neighbor, it makes her look incredibly creepy.

The biggest downfall is that any of the clients (who are all men for some reason lol) could have done it. Even after questioning and calling for more information about all of them, you will not have any idea who is the murderer. It is only once a neighbor comes over and gives eye-witness testimony that you figure out who it was, and even then, it is not nearly enough to convict anyone. This makes the rest of the game feel pointless. None of the information you collected up until now helped in any way other than some of the information already on the note cards when the game starts. It felt like a cop out way to end the game. However, I get that this game was made in two days, so I cannot fault it too much.

Should you play?:

If you like mysteries, I would say to check the game out. The art style and atmosphere are unique, the writing is witty, and the concept of the game play is good. It could have been executed better had the game been longer, but for a two day game, it is really enjoyable. They do say the ‘f’ word one time, so if that bothers you, take note.

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