Encountering enemies in Hand of Fate is actually quite fun albeit, a little easy. When the deckmaster deals out some monster cards for you to face, the game changes from being played on a tabletop to a third-person hack and slash style.
On PC, the usual ‘WASD’ controls your movement while clicking is used to attack and stun. By pressing ‘space-bar’ you can perform a roll to escape enemy attacks.
Depending on your characters equipment, other abilities become available such as, when you’re equipped with a shield, the ‘Q’ key is used to counter enemy attacks. The countering mechanic is similar to that seen in the Batman Arkham games. Green signals will appear above enemies’ heads which let you know the attack can be countered. Red signals indicate un-counterable attacks.
Combat is actually really smooth and effortless, which personally I think is a bit of a downfall. It doesn’t take long to understand your enemies’ attack patterns and dodge/counter your way to victory. Having said that, boss fights can become quite troublesome as they each have differing mechanics. I.e. Queen of Dust is accompanied by a huge, immobile crossbow that fires at you every couple of seconds, whereas the King of Scales is accompanied by lizardmen who cannot be killed whilst the King is still alive.
These accompaniments and extra abilities add a nice change of pace to combat. Boss fights become more of a challenge whilst regular encounters, in my opinion, act more as a way of honing your reaction times when countering, attacking and dodging.
Along with extra abilities, bosses also bring curses. Take, for example, playing through the Jack of Plague stage. Doing so lands you with a curse called “Twice the Fail”. This curse makes it so when you roll to either fail or succeed a multiple choice option, every fail you get also loses you five gold. Every huge fail loses you ten gold. Curses make things that much more interesting.
Earning New Cards
There are heaps of ways to earn new cards. Some cards become unlocked by succeeding in a certain event, thus carrying on the mini-story found in said event.
Alternatively you can earn new cards by defeating bosses or winning certain battles. The cards all come in handy as you progress and can be put into your customised deck to give you the upper hand in your next game.
I’m finding myself expecting more and more from indie developers and their games. It was to my surprise to find out Defiant Development are based in Brisbane, Australia. So for me, that’s as indie as they come! And to have done such a wonderful job with the graphics and animations seen in Hand of Fate makes me very proud. The card illustrations utilise a satisfying woodcut artstyle which draws you further into the fantasy of it all.
Musically it’s nothing spectacular but the voice acting of the deckmaster by Anthony Skordi is simply incredible. He’s responsible for voices in other games such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, but I really feel that his work in Hand of Fate will go down in gaming history as one of the most engaging.
The script and story writing by Defiant Development really adds to the whole experience and is literally the icing on the cake. I mean, I like cake, but when there’s icing as well, somebody stop me!
Hand of Fate brings the trading card and action genres together so seamlessly that you’ll be wondering why it hasn’t been done before. Each stage is longer and more exciting than the last, and gaining new cards after each game is always something to be looking forward to.
There are a few things that bring the overall awesomeness down, such as: a lack of character customisation (everyone likes to make their player the way they want to, right?), relatively easy battles which often don’t require you to even think about touching your spells, and the general shortness of the Story mode, clocking in at around ten hours.
Thankfully to fill in the gap between the Story mode and your next purchase, there is an Endless mode. Take your cards for a spin and see how far you can get. Hopefully if you’re good enough, you’ll make a decent appearance on the leaderboards!
Ultimately I can’t recommend Hand of Fate enough to lovers of trading card games who also thoroughly enjoy smashing through monsters. If you ever tried your hand at the pen and paper version of Dungeons & Dragons and liked it, chances are you’ll find a satisfying experience playing through Hand of Fate.
4 stars – unique tabletop fantasy card game experience with some very impressive graphics