If you love how Balatro mutates the game of poker, Dungeons & Degenerate Gamblers is doing something similar to blackjack, and there's a demo you can try now

In poker roguelike Balatro, poker isn't poker for very long. After a few rounds your standard deck will be anything but, filled with glass cards and gold cards and a dozen or so aces of spades, while your bizarre collection of jokers enchant every hand you play into earning millions or even billions of points. By the time you're facing off against the big boss, what started off as poker has turned into something else entirely.

Now you can mutate and mangle the game of blackjack, too. Dungeons & Degenerate Gamblers is a blackjack roguelike adventure where you sit down in a stinky tavern and try to play your way through the townsfolk, some of them drunker than others. As you and your opponent try to get as close as you can to 21 without busting, you chip away at each others' health and earn new magical cards to add to your deck.

Even standard cards already have some abilities: hearts heal you, spades protect you, diamonds reward you with money, and clubs do extra damage to your opponents. But you'll quickly collect more interesting cards as rewards for winning, like tarot cards, business cards, birthday cards, and maybe even social security cards. With the ability to hold special cards in your hand—not the hand you've been dealt, I mean your physical hand—the game quickly spirals from standard blackjack into something far more absurd.

The specialty cards I came across in the demo are pretty imaginative. There's the jackhammer of clubs which does 5 points of damage to your opponent, a wild card that mimics the value of another card, and a "kingmaker" that lets you turn another card into a king. Others are a bit weirder, like the Pi of Hearts: It works like a three of hearts, mostly, but when you stand it rounds up from 3.14 to 4, and if you don't bust its value permanently increases by one.

I also came across an Uno-esque reverse card, and I was amused to see my drunken opponent playing with a "rules" card—and who in a friendly card game hasn't had that happen once or twice? The rules card does change the rules: you can set your opponent's bust limit to 20 (to ensure they never blackjack) or 22 (to tempt them into hitting when they should stand, I suppose). I even saw a Geralt card at one point, though it was in my opponent's hand, not mine. There's also a trading system so you can occasionally swap out some of your cards in exchange for new ones.

Like Balatro, Dungeons & Degenerate Gamblers has a charming lofi look to it and I daresay if you enjoy weird poker, you'll probably also like weird blackjack. There's a demo you can try now, and the full game will be published by Yogscast Games later this year. 

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.