Slide and merge playing cards to create poker hands, in the minimalist puzzle game Poker Hands!
Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 1.5 hours
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Poker Hands is a short puzzle game about sliding and merging poker cards to create traditional poker hands. There are approximately 50 levels with a variety of goals. Some levels specify one or more particular hands (ex. royal flush, two pair) that need to be created to win. Other levels are timed and specify a competing hand that needs to be beaten, said hand becoming harder if the timer runs out.
Early levels in Poker Hands have all the necessary cards available in the starting grid. Players must figure out how to maneuver the cards together so they combine into the correct hands. Cards will combine together up to sets of 5. If the resulting hand is a valid poker hand, it will be removed from the board, but if not it will stay permanently and take up space. Cards cannot combine more than 5 and cannot be split once combined.
Later levels in Poker Hands require players to bring in pieces from off the sides of the board. Faint outlines on the sides show where new cards will appear if the player pulls from that side However the card that will be added is not shown and seems to be largely random. Players also encounter more blocked squares or squares that consume cards and then become blocked, allowing for more careful manipulation of cards to achieve the rarer poker hands required.
I did encounter a few issues with the levels. Levels 47 and 49 seemed to be missing, both from level select and when progressing linearly through the levels. There were also a fair number of levels later on where the best play was to trap the hand the player was building in a safe place and then just pull cards from one side until randoming into the desired card(s). There didn???t seem to be any more intended solution and the levels have no move limit to discourage such a solution.
Overall, I enjoyed Poker Hands as a simple sliding puzzle game. It???s simple and not terribly difficult, but it does have some issues with relying on randomness. I preferred the more logical levels where most of the cards required were already on the board. I recommend Poker Hands for players looking for a short and simple sliding puzzle game.