Memories of the past can be good, bad, or somewhere in between. A day at the arcade, a lonesome Christmas night, and a minimum wage shift at a fast food restaurant. Where Cards Fall walks us through the various stages of youth of a nameless character.
Although the game’s name has ‘cards’ in the title, it is far from a traditional card game. Instead, Where Cards Fall takes place over a number of puzzles. You goal is to form a path using cards to get to the gate at the end of the puzzle. Once you get to the gate, it unlocks a piece of the main character’s past in the form of a cutscene. After that plays out, you move on to the next puzzle and rinse and repeat.
None of the characters are named; in fact, our protagonist is gender neutral, and there isn’t any dialogue either. Instead, everyone speaks in gibberish. It’s an interesting choice to go with, and I have no qualms with the ambiguity in terms of the plot, but at times it felt like the game was being dragged down by the plot. I felt it was a bit of a chore at times to watch the cutscenes and would’ve much rather preferred moving on to the next puzzle. Sadly, there isn’t any option to skip these.
Where Cards Fall's stronger suit lies is in its gameplay. To aid you in your journey are stacks of cards that can be used to form a house of cards. The size of these can be adjusted and made larger or smaller, whatever may seem fit in a given space.
As you shuffle along, things get a bit more complex with these houses of cards, as they can be stacked one on top of the other or used as weights on a surface. You’ll even encounter a few hazards such as wind to knock down your structures. The game consists of over 50 different levels, and I was quite impressed at the variety at hand.
There were times where I had a tough time with a particular level, and for that I’m glad there was a hint button to refer to. The hints don’t give away too much either, which makes it a little more gratifying upon completing the level rather than being given the solution straight away. However, I would have liked the addition of an undo button, rather than having to restart the whole level.
Design-wise, all the levels are a delight to playthrough and the game sports a clean art style. Levels can consist of run-down buildings, a serene forest, or even giant fluffy clouds. The settings in which the cutscenes take place are also carefully constructed and can range from cozy to eerie. The soundtrack is also minimalistic and is seamlessly integrated in the game’s levels and the mood it’s going for.
Where Cards Fall ends up falling a little short in terms of its controls. Seeing that the game originally came out for Apple Arcade, it’s safe to say that the game was designed with touch screens in mind. The controls on Switch and PC, particularly Switch since that’s what I played on, are a bit of an afterthought.
For starters, the touch screen controls could have been kept in as the Switch’s screen does have touch capability. Instead, you have to move the cards around with the control sticks, which isn’t too bad, but adjusting the size of the house of cards could be more streamlined.
The game shows you which card stack you’ve selected by putting a little fold on one of them, but if you’re they’re hidden behind another house of cards, it’s easy to miss. If you’re not careful enough, you’ll end up collapsing one of your house of cards. A soft glow around them would have been more convenient, or something that would allow a little see-through the existing structures would have also worked.
Additionally, since the game takes place in an isometric perspective, it’s confusing when you need to jump across platforms. You don’t have control over the camera either, and the only camera movement is a light tilt through the Switch gyroscope.
Where Cards Fall Review | Final Thoughts
Where Cards Fall is a beautifully crafted puzzle platformer, but its console port falls short of the original. While the story follows the mundane youth of its protagonist, at times it gets too mundane and can be outshined by its gameplay.
TechRaptor's Where Cards Fall review was conducted on Nintendo Switch through a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on Apple Arcade and PC.
- Puzzles are a good challenge
- Hints are present if you get stuck
- Ambient levels paired with minimalistic music
- Story is dull
- Controls are clunky
- Lack of an undo button