Last month, I enjoyed playing Card Cowboy, a little Wild West adventure that uses cards to tell silly stories. As you cross the land in search of revenge, you create a hand of cards representing resources and events, which you use to resolve situations, often with strange and surprising results. What happens if you try to tie up a villain with a mescal worm? That free version was fun, and now the developers have expanded it into a £2 paid version with new cards, puzzles and voice acting. It’s also fun!
As I explained last time, the destination is less important than the journey:
Throw yourself across the map hitting nodes that are all events. Maybe you’ll join a game of poker that turns sour. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a hanging. buried treasure Your options in these events are dictated by your cards.
“In Card Cowboy, you have hitpoints as a number, so everything else is a card. Your horse, items, money, and allies are cards, used by dragging them into card slots in events. Some cards even represent events like a wedding or rodeo. Most cards are consumed when used, but you’ll get more to replace them, rolling on hits. This gets weird real quick. Any card can be used in any event, and they often have custom results for weird situations.
“What if you try to evade accusations of cheating at poker by using a baby? What if you offer a wedding card to a farmer looking for help? And what can I use this circus card for? In a moment, I tried to fight my nemesis by offering him money for his head.
Half the fun of every 20-minute run is discovering weird results. Not all situations have a solution tailored to each card, but many oddities are awakened. I accidentally stole from people, I accidentally got dysentery, I accidentally declared my love for my horse, I accidentally started a big gang consisting of an oil tycoon and a bunch of babies, and more. Even if I don’t win, I’ve enjoyed living through the strange last days of my cowboy. And yes, I think it’s funny that the new narration clearly inserts separate recordings for the nouns on the cards in the sentences.
I’ve seen a lot of new cards and events in the new version, and I look forward to discovering more than combining them. Helpfully, it adds a ‘cardpedia’ that tracks what cards it has found. The new Steam achievements also offer strange challenges and hints.
The expanded version of Card Cowboy is available on Steam for Windows and Mac. With 10% off launch week, it’s just £1.88/€2.15/$2.69. The original version of Game Jam is still available pay what you want (no minimum) on Itch.io, which I assume you can treat as a demo.