I blame Bill Gates for making Solitaire a staple of gaming. I remember spending hours moving cards around on my parents' computer and being totally engaged by it. There's an amazing feeling the moment you realize everything is falling into place, and you can start to really clear the board.
That joy never really translated to physical solitaire for me, but it has carried through to video games. I was late to the party on Pocket Card Jockey but really liked my time with it. Over on iOS, Solitairica got me through many hours of my son refusing to fall asleep. With that in mind, I was super excited to check out The Solitaire Conspiracy, which just made the jump from Steam to Switch.
This is a pretty basic Solitaire game that has ended up being way more engaging than it should be thanks to an absolutely insane amount of work put into it's spy story and aesthetic.
The Solitaire Conspiracy is Basically Solitaire
There are a few tutorial levels to go through before you really get into the meat of The Solitaire Conspiracy. These start with a really, really basic introduction to the basic rules of Solitaire. We're talking only one suit of cards basic. Thankfully, it doesn't take too long to get into the meat of the game. Solitaire here is played with 8 piles of face-up cards which you need to sort one at a time into four stacks, sorted by suit, from Ace to King.
It's not quite the Solitaire setup that I grew up with, but the gameplay is super easy to get the hang of. The big twist the game brings is that each suit represents a different spy crew. Once you get the Ace for a suit into its stack, the face cards for that crew all “power-up”, and unlock a special ability. Some of them scatter cards to different piles, while another might sort a pile in a specific order. These are pretty varied and make for a nice change of pace.
Solitaire with All Sorts of Style
The gameplay in The Solitaire Conspiracy might be straightforward, but the presentation is anything but. This game absolutely oozes style. Everything is presented in a weird, neon-drenched holographic style. The cards glow, the backgrounds glow, and the FMV cutscenes glow.
There's a stylized cutscene with dramatic angles of the cards falling into place at the start of every single level.
There's motion controls in this game. Yes, it's a card game with motion controls. What do the motion controls do, I hear you ask? Well, they slightly shift your perspective of the cards and the background, of course, for absolutely no reason at all.
You also unlock a ton of different color schemes for the background and HUD as you play. You'll pretty quickly have too many color schemes to even process which one is your favorite!
This game doesn't need to have this much style, but I love that it does. All this ridiculous polish made me actually pay attention to the story of this Solitaire game, and it's buck wild, too! The story is told through a mixture of FMV cutscenes and text blocks before and after each mission. Your contact will explain how there's a dangerous fugitive on the loose, then some text will talk about how four of your spy teams are going to infiltrate an evil auction in order to root out a criminal mastermind. And then, naturally, you play out that mission by… playing Solitaire.
The basic playthrough of this game has no fail-state, which is weird. You can take as long as you want on any given level. So far, I've never gotten “stuck” in a level, which means this is a game where you just win and win and win, so it's not about a challenge. Each level does have a challenge mode, which restricts how many turns you can use in order to get bonus experience, but since you have to opt into having a fail state, I've just ignored that. Instead, it's just a really slickly produced game where you can play solitaire and see a bizarre spy story unfold.
It's not a groundbreaking experience, but I'm really kind of loving it. It's a nice game to just kind of kick back and play, especially since the whole thing can run in touch screen mode. There is a demo for this on Switch and the progress does carry over to the full game, so it's at least worth downloading that to see how wonderfully over-the-top its presentation is.