NOTE: This review is written based off of a review code provided by the developer.
From game developer Defiant Development, Hand of Fate 2 puts you at the mercy of the game of life and death. You sit at a table across from the man known as “the dealer” as he walks you through adventures and scenarios of his design. However, as you delve deeper and deeper into the game, you wrestle more control over your own fate while still at the mercy of the cards and the dealer. The dealer is preparing for something, what that something is, could mean something disastrous for you. Hit the jump to read on!
The dealer is consumed with the game, he reminds you frequently that he’s spent many years crafting the encounters and scenarios you endure. The overarching plot behind “the game” in Hand of Fate 2 revolves around the dealer preparing you, the player, to take on Kallas the usurper. Having not played the original Hand of Fate, I can only assume that Kallas is someone you encounter during the course of the game. Despite my ignorance, however, Hand of Fate 2 proves to be engaging and interesting with its blend of card collecting and hack and slash game play.
As you start up the game you’re given the choice of selecting a scenario to play through. Scenarios range from escorting a potato farmer that is prone to being kidnapped, to uncovering an assassin who is plotting to kill the head of the thieves’ guild. However, before you go into the scenario, you must first choose the encounter cards you want to have as you make your way through the scenario. You could have the game auto-fill your deck with encounters as well, but choosing your own will help you cater your adventure to each scenario and also offer you a chance to unlock more cards. After you choose your encounters, you can also choose a companion to accompany you on your journey, the equipment you’ll come across during the course of the scenario, and the supplies you start off with at the beginning of the scenario. Once you have these cards selected you can begin the scenario.
As the scenario begins, the dealer will give you a little insight into the setup and a bit of text will paint the picture of the scenario for you. The core game play of Hand of Fate 2 takes place on two planes: the game board, and within the game itself. The game board will fill up with cards face down before scenario-specific cards will flip face up to guide you towards your objectives. Moving the figurine that represents your character across the board triggers encounters that are either the cards you selected at the beginning of the scenario or scenario specific encounters.
Once you move onto a new encounter, you’ll be penalized one unit of food, but gain 10 hit points (if you’re injured), and the card will flip over and reveal the encounter. There are a handful of encounter types–tests of luck, tests of skill, decisions, combat, etc.
Tests of luck involve rolling a trio of dice in the hopes of matching or surpassing a certain number, with an opportunity to re-roll any or all of the dice once (or twice, depending on your companion). Tests of skill involve stopping a pendulum over moving platforms. These platforms can be either silver, gold, or red. Silver being a success, gold being huge success, red being a huge failure, and hitting no platforms being a failure. There are other types of tests of luck and skill but these are the two I came across the most in my time with Hand of Fate 2.
Decision encounters are generally text based and can involve dice roles or other luck or skill based mechanics. Decision encounters can also devolve into combat encounters if you make bad decisions or fail luck or skill checks. Combat encounters teleport you into the game board where you take direct control of your character. Combat relies on basic mechanics, you attack, defend, evade, and counter enemies until you drain all of their life points. At any point, be it in combat or while on the game board, if your character’s health reaches zero, it is an instant game over and the scenario will be deemed a failure.
Hand of Fate 2, like its predecessor, is a game that exists in a role-playing niche that doesn’t get enough attention. The blending of card-collection, RNG, and third-person combat is something that isn’t seen anywhere in the AAA-game space. In all honesty, I didn’t know Hand of Fate was a series I wanted to play until I played it and my hope is that its success will lead to more games of its type.
Hand of Fate 2 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.