Card Detective – Review
Follow Genre: deck builder, strategy game
Developer: 神探饭店制作组
Publisher: 神探饭店制作组
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Card Detective – Review

Site Score
Good: Amazing visual style, Interesting approach to the genre
Bad: Too easy
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Digital card games with a focus on deck building have been very popular in recent years, with many gamers discovering the genre. Though they’re mostly used for combat, some developers have started using the mechanics in other types of games too. One such example is the title we’re looking at today: Card Detective by 神探饭店制作组 (which translates to ‘Detective Hotel Production Team’ according to Google). This indie developer makes their debut with an interesting puzzle game based completely on deck building.


Card Detective lets you play as Hazel Gong, a young reporter looking for a breakthrough. Despite her ambitious nature, she’s put on boring cases by her overbearing boss. However, when she goes to report on a construction site in the city, the basement collapses and uncovers a corpse hidden beneath the concrete. Hazel feels unable to let it go and delves further into the mystery, uncovering a connected web of lies and conspiracies about what seemed to be a simple reporting job.

The game tells the story by playing a comic-style cutscene between each interrogation you conduct. They’re short but fun and pace out the story in nice bite-sized segments so you’re not getting a bunch of stuff dumped on you all at once. The mystery is also set up in a way that’s compelling and makes you want to keep playing so you can uncover more.


Visually, Card Detective makes use of its unique art style in very smart ways. As mentioned above, the cutscenes are displayed in the form of comics. The panels are revealed one by one with moving effects, making the normally static format feel more dynamic. The character designs are also a highlight, with the style reminding us a lot of the Persona games. Our only complaint would be the interface of the interrogations themselves, which can be a bit clunky, and you frequently have to spend time hovering your mouse over stuff to be able to read text or see card effects.


While not the best soundtrack in the world, the music in Card Detective fits the laid-back nature of the game. Songs are rather short and do loop, but since every interrogation segment is also meant to be finished in maybe five to ten minutes, it’s not as much of an issue as it would be in some other games. The sound effects, specifically for the comics, are also very good. The game has no voice acting, so prepare to do a fair bit of reading.


Card Detective is essentially a puzzle-strategy game, with deck-building elements. The mechanics get a bit complicated in their explanation, though the game gives you small tutorials whenever they introduce a new element, even when you’re more than halfway through the game. Moreover, one of the big assets of this title is that you can actually play it in a few different ways depending on your preference.

Every gameplay segment is an interrogation where you are presented with a series of statements the suspect has made. It’s your job to figure out which ones are true and which ones are lies. These statements are protected by the suspect’s defense cards or ‘deception’. To break through, you question them with your various interrogation techniques, which are essentially attack cards of different types. Every card you play costs a specific amount of action points and you only have a limited amount of those per round. How many rounds you have until the interrogation fails automatically is represented by the suspect’s ‘patience points’. This means you need to utilize some strategy to play your cards right.

Especially since destroying those defense cards is only one way of winning. A much more clever approach is to look at the symbols on the defense cards themselves. They show hints as to which statements might be lies and which might be truths. Using this, you can forgo attacking the defense cards and instead go straight to guessing which statements are true or not. This mechanic is similar to the board game Mastermind and offers a unique way to play the game. Guessing at the statements is also done with your attack cards and also costs action points, so again you have to use some strategic thinking to make sure the suspect doesn’t run out of patience before you’re done.

Aside from attack cards (called strategy cards in-game), there are also trick cards. Trick cards have varying effects such as allowing you to draw more cards, giving you more action points, and so on. As you play, you unlock more cards of both types. This includes attack cards that have a special effect when played too. As a result, Card Detective allows for a large amount of deck customization where you can put together something that works for your play style. The main downside is that it’s very easy to make a deck that allows you to breeze through every interrogation like it’s nothing. You don’t have to try very hard to basically end up with an overpowered deck. With about five hours of content altogether, it quickly became apparent that the plot kept us playing more than the actual gameplay did.


Card Detective offers a title in the deck-building genre that isn’t a simple battler like we’re used to. The story is surprisingly engaging for something this simple, with a mystery that’s full of twists and turns, and we appreciate the amount of customization you can do with your deck. The gameplay itself lost its novelty rather quickly due to the fact we could breeze through whatever the game threw at us. While the interrogations eventually became extremely easy, we very much enjoyed the plot that unraveled.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Card Detective - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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