Spells, magic, sorcery, and demons are prevalent throughout the games (i.e., one card mentions the devil, you cast various spells and visit with a sorcerer for healing and spells, etc.). However, during battles there is no bloodshed.
I have never been one to enjoy card games, so, when I began playing Hand of Fate, I decided I would trudge through it and give it the best objective review I could. In the end, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable game that I will continue play, even after I have completed this review.
I’m not sure which genre this game should fall into. Part of it feels like Magic the Gathering, another part feels like a session of D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), and the last part feels a bit like Final Fantasy Tactics. Wrap all of these games in a blanket of Fable, and you have Hand of Fate. The graphics aren’t dazzling, but I didn’t find that they needed to be. The game presents itself well as a card game with a bit of action. It leaves a lot up to the imagination, as most physical card games do via role-play. The Dealer’s voice acting is professionally performed. His mouth is covered by cloth, so there isn’t any disparage between his audio and his mouth movement.
The premise of Hand of Fate is rather simple; you play a card game against the “Dealer,” who also narrates what is happening, much like a Dungeon Master would. He quips along as you play your hand, remarking on your choices and what cards are drawn. The Dealer does most of the work for you as you make choices along your path. Your cards dictate your movement in the game, but the player can pick the direction they wish their token to travel. If there are multiple directions to move in, player’s options expand (they may be rewarded or may have to fight an enemy, for example).
You, the player, have a deck on your side of the table, while the Dealer has his own deck. His deck is usually full of your opponents and different attacks to be used against you. You have multiple cards placed on the table, and you choose where to move your piece based on the cards you draw. If you have multiple cards in front of your piece, you choose the direction you want to move to. The beginning rounds are mostly linear, and your cards are randomly placed in front of you.
Your goal is to defeat the “boss” at the end of each playthrough. You collect the “boss” cards near the end of your playthrough to show your progress. Each “boss” card is displayed in a special case at the beginning of the round. I found that, with each game I played, the bosses and the levels became more difficult. The first few hands were relatively easy, in order to get me used to the gameplay.
There are cards of fortune that will help you with “blessings.” There are also cards of circumstance that will lead you into an ambush. Some cards will open up a shop for you to purchase things throughout your “quests.” You will have a limited amount of food that you can replenish with purchases; each move takes away one unit of food, so you must keep track of your usage. You may also draw a circumstance card that could put you in a scenario where you have your food stolen, or possibly give your food away to a hungry peasant. The choice is yours, which is what makes Hand of Fate so appealing. There is a strategy that you can develop the more you play.
The most interesting part of the game is that, when your character goes into battle, you actually get to control your character and fight against various foes. The fighting mechanic is simple and familiar if you have played any of the Batman Arkham games. You have the ability to attack, block, or dodge your opponents, and, as you upgrade or find better weapons, you can use their powers as well. These are extremely helpful when you are playing against multiple opponents, as you can stun or knock them back. The fighting sequences are not initially challenging; however, about five decks into your playthrough, the fighting becomes much more intense. You will also play through some “trap” levels, which consist of dodging various traps Indiana Jones-style. At the end of most of these challenges, you will be rewarded by drawing various cards that will give you extra gold or equipment to help you in your quest.
I had two major issues while playing this game. It froze on me at the end of one of my decks, and the game completely stalled and quit on me during another playthrough. Thankfully, the game appears to save quite frequently, and I didn’t lose any progress in my playthrough as a result. During a few fights, the frame rate appeared to lag a bit, but not enough to deter me from continuing the game.
I am quite impressed that a game like Hand of Fate was able to keep my interest and make me want to play it. If you enjoy Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and Final Fantasy Tactics, you will be glad that you decided to check this game out.
Hand of Fate releases on February 17th at 4pm PST on PS4, XB1, and Steam.
Special thanks to Stride PR for providing Geeks Under Grace with a review copy of this game.