Review: Hand of Fate
Dungeons and Dragons, among many other table-top based games, has long eluded me for various reasons. The biggest of which simply comes down to not knowing enough people who are interested. I once had a brief stint into Magic the Gathering, but aside from that my curiosity has yet to lead me down the road of D20s, obsessing over which cards will make the perfect deck, or pulling late nights fleshing out character back stories. This leads to one of the little appreciations that I have for Hand of Fate as it has given me a small glimpse into a world of role playing that I’ve always wanted to experience.
Hand of Fate mixes together deck building and roguelikes as it creates a game that feels pretty different from anything else I’ve ever played. In the game you meet a mysterious card dealer who tasks you with seeking out and defeating twelve different boss creatures. (The Jack, Queen, and King of four different types of enemies.) These make up the different adventures that you’ll go on which will lead your character through a variety of events, locations, twists, and turns. At the start of each adventure you’ll build a deck containing events, shops, weapons, and equipment that is then combined with some of the dealer’s cards. The pathway for your journey is then constructed on the table with each card laying face down. Throughout your adventure you’ll move a character token over each card, flipping it over, and revealing whatever is on the other side. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in the midst of an ambush and other times you’ll find that the card contains a treasure chest. The point is that each adventure is randomly created with your deck in mind. Each adventure is going to play out differently and your path to the final encounter will always be different.
Your luck will also likely change as well. In certain instances you’ll be required to draw a card to determine the result of a variety of different actions. In one instance I attempted to persuade some bandits to release a woman that they were holding captive. The dealer then held up four cards (two Success, two Failure) and shuffled them in front of me. Luckily I chose the Success card and the bandits agreed to let her go. Things could have been different though and often times they are. Drawing cards is used to decide whether or not something good or bad will happen in many different instances and it often can dramatically change the course of your adventure. A few nights ago I drew a Huge Failure card and my max health immediately dropped by about 70%. Now you can follow the cards as they’re shuffled and typically pick a Success, but it’s not always that simple. (Sometimes the shuffle speed is increased making the card you want really difficult to follow.) In general this is a game that you’ll want to be careful and really consider the choices that you make, or else you might find yourself in an early grave.
As your journey through the cards continues you’ll often find yourself in the midst of battle. Combat plays out similarly to the Batman Arkham games. You can press Square to attack enemies and you’ll hit Triangle to counter when the correct icon (a green icon means you can counter while a red icon means you can’t) appears over your head. Depending on the weapons you have equipped you might also have a few other abilities at your disposal, but for the most part the combat is pretty simplistic. My only real issue with it is that in the later stages of the game I found myself fighting powered-up enemies with my starting weapon (simply because I’d never get lucky enough to find a better weapon) and they would all take a long time to defeat. This would lead to battles with 8-10 enemies, many of which have attacks you can’t counter, dragging on for way too long. This also plays into a pretty intense difficulty spike near the end that had me stuck on some sections for a really long time.
At the time of this writing Hand of Fate suffers from pretty bad frame rate issues. Outside of combat the frame rate will drop on occasion causing the animations of the dealer and his card shuffling to look really strange. In combat the game stutters fairly often which just leads to things feeling unpolished. On a couple of occasions I’ve had the FPS drop into single digits, the music completely cut out during combat once, and I’ve had three crashes. The more serious issues weren’t common, but I’ve had enough technical issues that I’d probably recommend waiting for a patch.
Technical issues aside I’m really enjoying Hand of Fate. Even after the story is over you’ll still have Endless mode to play through to unlock any extra cards that you’re missing. There’s also the dealer himself, who has some really great voice work by the way, that is always there to comment on things that happen to you in real time. You’ll end up hearing certain lines multiple times, but I always get a kick out of him talking about how he needs to re-balance a specific card that’s too strong.
Each adventure through Hand of Fate has allowed me to imagine myself journeying through many far off places, meeting different people, and overcoming any number of obstacles. Even in the face of many technical issues I’m so hooked that I can’t help but continue to come back for more with each passing day.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Combines deck building, roguelikes, and role playing
- Lots of different cards
- Each adventure is different
- The feeling when you choose a Huge Success! card
- The Dealer's VO
- Endless mode
What I Dislike:
- Frame rate issues
- Late game combat can drag on with enemies taking too long to kill