There are very few games that creep up out of nowhere, with little fanfare, that actually intrigue me into wanting to play them. Hand of Fate however is exactly one of those games. Developed by Defiant Development, can this team, comprised of experienced console veterans and up-and-coming talent, deliver a fresh hybrid take of a card/action game that’ll enthral us?
Well it certainly delivers on the freshness factor as I can’t recall ever playing a game like this, even though it seems so logical that it should have been done before. Basically it’s just you and a devious looking Dealer sat at a table with decks of cards, some of which get randomly dealt into a pattern on the table. This is the dungeon layout; you’ll progress through these dungeons by moving your game piece one step at a time towards an exit card to the next level and ultimately to facing the boss of that deck. Dependent on the cards you land on, it may transport you into a 3D world to experience whatever the card dictates.
If you’re with me so far than you’ve grasped it quicker than I did, as there is what they call a baptism of fire in Hand of Fate. And by that I mean there was less of a tutorial and more of a chuck you into the rather easy first deck to pretty much learn as you go along. You’ll take a set of equipment cards and a set of encounter cards into each bosses dungeons; I’d say it’s fifty percent luck of the draw as to how good your choices will be because if for example you don’t find a shop regularly then your supplies will deplete and there’s only doom and gloom to come after that.
Supplies are the key to keeping your warrior healthy, it takes one item of food per step you take and to get more you need gold or draw a Gain card as a reward. Considering the starting health is 100HP, if any damage occurs mid-fight it’ll slowly go back up to the max health for each move made. This is the annoying part though as various factors can drain your food and subsequently your health, meaning sometimes you can be pretty helpless if the right cards don’t come out in a decent order and your game will be over.
So we know about the card playing side now, which on its own could be a rather tepid affair and now move onto the 3D encounters. Should you draw a card like Ambush then the cruel Dealer will draw a number of monster cards (there’s a good amount of variety from rats to mages) at random to face in an arena. I like the fact the control is given to me as to whether I succeed in such a battle but the combat is basic and I don’t just mean the lack of attacks. The mechanics aren’t great and weapons can quite often be seen passing through enemies in some kind of visual glitch. Again if the game was entirely in this form it’d soon get boring and annoying, but thankfully, it’s a hybrid.
The last type of situation you’re likely to get yourself into is the choice based cards with more than one branch that can send you into a mere textual confrontation where fortune doesn’t always favour the brave. Whether your choice is a good one will depend on a mini game of switch-a-roo where you are shown four cards face down with at least one or more of the following written on them; Success, Failure, Huge Failure, Huge Success. Pure luck once again but is less likely to make or break the journey you are currently on.
Hand of Fate offers twelve boss decks that progressively get more difficult and can play out different each time depending on the draw of the decks and what you actually put into your own. There are slight elements of RPGs mixed in with the action and deck building which makes for a decent combination that can whisk you away for hours if it sucks you in, especially if you try your luck at Endless Mode. As previously mentioned, if the card playing side or action side were separate games it’d be mediocre at best. Fortunately this works and does so pretty darn well. Given the price of £15.99 I’d say it is bang on in getting enough for what you pay for, it just needs better combat and more cards with a little more lore included to be a top title.
If it intrigues you like it did me then you won’t be disappointed.