Hand of Fate review
Developer: Defiant Development
Release date: February 17, 2015
Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on PS4
Fond of fantasy collectible card and role-playing games? Expect the unexpected from Defiant Development with Hand of Fate, a unique concoction of those genres for adventure-hungry gamers. Hand of Fate packs in all the hooks to bait the fantasy gamers looking for an enjoyable and fresh game experience.
A foreboding card dealer lays out unique paths which you, the adventurer, must venture and survive. Decks are built out from common RPG elements such as equipment (axes, magic-imbued swords, armor, etc.), elixirs and shops – and of course, loads of enemies. There’s a lot of chance, fortune and misfortune in many different scenarios, narrated and written out before you. See a shiny sword in the distance? Go for it or not? Give a goblin some food? Help out the local peasants? Huge success or huge failure. There are choices a-plenty, which could easily move you along the path of cards the dealer has dealt you, or trip you up in one misfortune to an untimely death.
Don’t think it’s all sitting back at the table top with the dealer and your token hero mini-figure. Enemy, and boss, encounters put you in a third-person action view where you can put your ice swords and coin-dropping cards to use. They tend to be fairly quick encounters but are just enough to bring in another colorful layer of fantasy to the game. The only part that seemed a bit of an annoyance was the always slow-motion rag-doll kill endings to the battles. But the environments, just as random as the cards, and the quick-action fun was enough to break what would otherwise be a monotonous and set outcome as in collectible card games. Your fate isn’t so easily sealed.
Another different part of the action-based gameplay comes in dodging trap-filled mazes. Some are fun in the beginning, but they do become complex – and frustrating – later in the game. Working your way around spiked rotating traps seemed obvious, but I never understood the spikes on the floor. Those seemed somewhat random, and unbalanced, in the way they were triggered and could easily end the game for you. The good thing is you can avoid certain cards if you want (though some are locked in at times) in the deck-building options before the game.
The card artwork, music, lore and effects offer all the elements to dish out your fantasy-fix. Nothing overly breakthrough here, but modest. It’s in the whole presentation of the different gameplay elements together that make Hand of Fate a unique experience. The storytelling scenarios, the deck-building and playing components, the randomness of some of the outcomes, the third-person action modes of play – all make for a fun challenge. The difficulty does ramp up fairly quickly – giving a pretty steep curve of challenge and frustration early on in the game. But be persistent and pace through the experience in the Story Mode and then come back for more in the Endless Mode and you’ve got some gameplay longevity and fun in Hand of Fate. If you’re looking for something unique and enjoy fantasy games, delve into Hand of Fate!