Hand of fate was a unique, fresh feeling title that had some interesting ideas but also had some flaws. I loved it, the combat was a little bare but the idea and feel of the game seemed to mix tabletop gaming, D&D and RPG gaming all into one nicely flavoured meal. I am not the only one who loved it, the game has a review score on Steam of 9/10. I managed to get hands on with the sequel at Pax Australia, and was instantly impressed with the evolution of the game play. Now that the game is finally released, I have been battling my way through the last few weeks.
For those who missed Hand of Fate, the best description of gameplay is in my intro. A single player experience, players are seated at a table with The Dealer, a mage looking character who acts as a Tarot reader for the past, telling the story of how you came to be at his table. The game is made up of 3 main components. Firstly, it is a card collecting game, I hear the groans but stick with me. Throughout your journey you collect cards which tell of your past, allowing different scenarios to be played out with the adventure. There are also cards for differing weapons, abilities and blessings (special abilities).
Secondly, Hand of Fate 2 is a choose your own adventure/board game. At the beginning of each level, the Dealer asks you to choose your hand of Fate, from the cards collected. Here you can choose the scenarios available and the weapons you take. There are other random cards thrown in to the hand, but you have an idea of what to expect. The Dealer then deals the had of fate face down, you move your character piece to card, revealing scenarios of which play out in in the third component, the combat.
The combat takes place in 3rd person, real time combat. Armed with your melee weaponry, it feels like a lighter version of what we see in Dark Souls. You have the ability of light and heavy attacks, timed blocks and a rolling dodge. You also gain the aid of npc’s, some who join your party and others that are provided for certain scenarios. The combat felt clunky and shallow in the original game, this time round it is smooth and delightful to play.
There are also various games of chance and skill. Some require a roll of three die, with a target needing to be achieved in two rolls. Others have a choice of shuffled cards or spinning on a wheel, with the rewards of success or huge success, but also the penalties of failure or huge failure.
It all sounds complicated and a little conflicting with the three styles of gameplay, but it all works extremely well and never feels daunting. It all ties together to produce a solid story that is littered with interesting characters in an unforgiving world. The end result being an extremely difficult and tense game that has you yearning to continue. All up there are 22 missions to defeat, but due to the arrangement of different scenarios there is reasonable replay ability found within Hand of Fate 2.
The difficulty raises perfectly the further you travel through the games story, with more and more cards added to your hand of fate and tougher enemies. However, adding more cards also adds more chances to gain blessing and good fortune making the experience well balanced.
Hand of Fate 2 is a good looking game. The art work is nice, especially inside the Dealers caravan and on the cards themselves. The combat scenarios look reasonably good, it reminds me of WOW but not as polished as Blizzards unlimited budget provides. The animations are all smooth and the voice acting is quite good. I do wish I could pick a few more Australian voices though, with the game being developed by local team Defiant Development.
As I mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the first game, even though the short comings were quite large. It just felt fresh and new, and the ideas simply outweighed the negatives this time round, I feel that Defiant Developments has created the result they set out for originally. The sequel adds a few new elements to the game, but most importantly solves all of the originals short comings. It isn’t often that I make a decision to chase the platinum trophy for a game, this is one of those rare occasions.
Thanks to Defiant Developments for providing Daily Joystick Podcasts with a copy of the game for review