Brave Hand (Free) by Heart Shaped Games is a single-player card game that revolves around pushing your luck. If you enjoyed other recent card games like Flipflop Solitaire and Onirim, then you will like what Brave Hand has to offer.
When life gets crazy (and boy is it this week), I want to just sit back and play some games to take my mind off reality for a bit. Usually for me, this involves puzzle games, but I also spend a lot of time playing Solitaire-style card games. There's something about them that just helps me relax, and I put in tons of hours into playing Solitaire back in the day. When I saw Brave Hand on the App Store, I was intrigued by the style and unique gameplay, so of course I had to check it out for myself. After trying it out, I can definitely say that it's an interesting addition to anyone's card game collection.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
The visual style in Brave Hand is beautiful, as it features what appears to be hand-drawn artwork on each card back. These drawings also represent "story pages" in the game, which are clues to the origin of the card game, and they also reveal strategy and hidden powers. The drawings all appear like paintings, and feature a wide range of colors, including vibrant shades and muted tones. The scenes are depicted in incredible amounts of detail, and there's a nice texture with the cards themselves. Animations are smooth and fluid on my iPhone 8 Plus with no issues of lag. The game has an ambient and atmospheric soundtrack, and the sound effects of the cards are realistic. Overall, the developers did a great job with Brave Hand's audio and visual design.
In Brave Hand, players have three game modes to choose from, though only the first one is available from the get-go: Brave, Boost, and Jumbo Deck. You'll have to keep playing Brave Mode until you earn enough coins to unlock more story pages, which then gives you access to Boost Mode. And with even more story pages, you can get the Jumbo Deck mode. But if you're impatient, you can unlock all game modes, remove ads, and get extra themes with a $2.99 in-app purchase.
So how do you play? Brave Hand features a standard deck of 52 playing cards, as well as an additional two Demon cards. There are eight starting piles on the board, starting from one in the first pile and going up to eight in the final pile. You're dealt seven cards in your hand, and then 11 cards remain in the deck.
In Jumbo Deck, the deck consists of 90 cards and all piles have eight cards each. Boost Mode is like Brave Mode, except you get three sets of special boost expansion cards that can be bought for some coins. These power-ups include Bomb (reveals all piles on a win), Guardian (+2 bonus point stars on cash-in), and Phoenix (transforms Pile Bonus to 2X on a win).
The goal of the game is to score points by cashing in your cards from the piles. The game ends only if you run out of cards in your hand, or all eight piles are cleared out. How do you clear out piles? On each of your turns, you'll pick any card in your hand, and then choose a pile. If your card is greater than the card in the pile (they're all face-down, but a few are revealed at the start), then you win. If you lose, you get nothing and lose your card.
You'll have two options when you have a win: Cash-In or Push. If you Cash-In, you earn points and end the run, while also getting an additional card from the deck. When you decide to Push, you can challenge the next card in the pile, but risk losing all earned points. It's a game of high risk, high reward.
While that covers the basics, there are some special rules in Brave Hand that make things more challenging. In the upper left corner is the Dice Pile, which reveals the top card of two random piles in exchange for a card. The "2" card is also known as the Scout Card, and can beat an Ace (14) card. The Demon Card has the highest value (15) and if it's scouted with the dice pile, can lead to bonus points.
While it may seem like a lot at first, Brave Hand is actually pretty straightforward once you get the basics. And with the addition of unique rules, it leads to interesting strategies to get the best score possible in a game. I'll admit that I didn't quite get it at first, but once I started to understand what was going on and the depth of strategy required, I found it hard to put down.
Once you get going in Brave Hand, you'll have a hard time putting it down as you push your luck like never before.
Brave Hand is a great gem of a card game that anyone can play. The game features gorgeous art and a distinctive style that is rather whimsical. The music is immersive and the sound effects are realistic to what you'd expect from real playing cards. While the gameplay seems simple at first, there's a lot of nuances to it, opening it up for many in-depth strategies. The core game mode reveals the basics of the game, but the additional two modes that you can unlock are almost like playing a new game. The replay value is high with Brave Hand.
Brave Hand is a good game, but again, it does take some time to practice and understand the rules and strategies to it. And since the game is mostly based on luck, it may not be for everyone. But I can say that once you get going in this game, it can be hard to stop. You just feel like the next run will be better, and it's just fun to push your luck.
After spending some time with Brave Hand, I must say that this is definitely a card game that I'll be coming back to in my spare time. I love the cute graphics, the sound is engaging, and the gameplay is different from other card games I've tried. While it's a free download and therefore comes with ads, I didn't find them to be too intrusive, so it's definitely tolerable. However, the game stands out from the crowd, and I'm finding it to be rather enjoyable, so I think it's worth the in-app purchase to get the full experience.
I recommend giving Brave Hand a try if you're a fan of single-player card games. You can find Brave Hand on the App Store as a universal app for your iPhone and iPad for free with in-app purchases.