Hand of Fate is an interesting game with its genre straddling across a multitude of areas. From its rogue like dungeon crawling to its RPG feel; not forgetting its short stop over at action game combat before sitting you down to walk you through a choose your own adventure story book in the medium of a trading card game. Hand of fate truly is a jack of all trades but does it actually master any of them?
For me Hand of Fate came totally out of nowhere, with little fanfare and much less anticipation. I mean, I really wish someone would fuse Rogue Legacy with Magic: The Gathering whilst including the combat from Batman said no one ever; but if you sit back and think about it, that’s a damn good idea. Like other games that have snuck up on us with little advertisement, (D4, I’m looking at you), it’s a breath of fresh air.
Or it’s not. See one of the hardest things I had trouble deciding on with Hand of Fate, apart from its genre, was if I actually liked the game. Sometimes I would turn it on and play a quick game as the “just one more go” aspect sunk its teeth into me. I would find myself trying to complete just one more side quest and before I knew it my evening was gone, whilst on other days because of unfair random luck, an unfair scenario card or three it felt like Demon Souls on steroids. The thing is you never know what Hand of Fate you are going to be playing, it’s a gamblers paradise.
With gambling in mind, what is a card game without a dealer? This particular dealer will prompt you, taunt you and guide you through your story whether this is about your current progress, idle jibber jabber, your adventure in general or the cards you pick up. It really is quite surprising the vast amount of lines this dealer actually has, and it took quite a while before I even noticed a repeat in anything he said. Without him, and his one liners as you ponder over a decision, the deck creation aspect would feel much more long winded and that is undeniably a big chunk of the game.
However, as I have touched on, that’s not all it is and combat plays a big part in how successful you are. The fact that your encounters are not completely decided by a turn of a card, although the odds can be unfairly stacked at times, but also how well you can hack, slash, jump, dive and counter your way through those enemies with what feels like ability alone and not luck in the slightest.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the greatest combat in the world and you will never mistake it for something like Diablo or Dragon Age but the combat is good enough, and simple enough, to drag you into the world very quickly. There’s a real weight behind your attacks and the counter system just works nicely in an Arkham kind of way. Overall it is functional, in a good way
The dungeons also start to feel a little samey after a while, the world beyond the Dealers cabin is probably more Craggy Island than USA in size and variety. The real magic is in what the cards create. Yes you may draw the same cards and the dungeon may be similar but the outcomes will be different depending on whether you succeed or fail and this ensures that no two games are ever really the same. You will continually want to unlock more cards just to see what impact it has on the game.
In addition to the story mode there is an endless mode which is, well, endless. The problem here is that the early game is a grind fest as you battle to improve your basic skills and weapons so that you become situated into a position of power and the point where endless mode becomes a nice little challenge.
Overall I love the slow paced nature of the card game and it’s something I enjoy playing just to blow the cobwebs off after playing a couple of bigger titles. I fully believe that Hand of Fate will surprise a lot of people with its gameplay. Unfortunately I also believe that with being launched with little to no fanfare means that it will probably have to be included in Plus or Games with Gold in order for the masses to try it.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: Xbox One / PlayStation 4 Release Date: 17/02/2015
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Hand of Fate by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a Xbox One. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.