by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Enemies get tougher as you progress and this works really well in Endless Mode as your equipment and abilities will most likely improve in proportion to the enemy. Unfortunately, I found that in Story Mode this dramatically changes. Each chapter has you starting out with basic equipment and you can only gain improved weapons, shields and buffs by buying them from a merchant (if you reveal a Merchant card and have gained enough gold to actually purchase something worthwhile) or finding them through encounters in the chapter. I didn’t notice it so much in the first few chapters, but as the chapters get more difficult, starting with the bare essentials puts you on the back foot. You take on the improved foes (often in greater numbers) with the equivalent of a cardboard shield and a stick. And God forbid if you actually make it to the Boss battle without gaining any improvements.
And that leads me to my second gripe with the Story Mode. If you have made it through the whole chapter only to be defeated by the Boss and his minions, you are then forced to retrace your steps through the entire chapter again. Yes, the cards can fall differently and the Encounters can be different, but you still have to start from the beginning of the chapter again... with the bare minimum of equipment. It can get frustrating playing the same chapter on multiple occasions from the start, especially as the chapters get longer as you progress.
Visuals and audio
Hand of Fate looks lovely though. The table setting with the dealer’s odds-and-ends surrounding him looks great with a low burning candle flickering in the dim light, giving the card playing portion of the game an eerie feel. But once you reach the combat arena, the game truly shines. Enemies are each easily recognizable, with various indicators displaying danger to our hero. The landscapes are various enough to keep the game fresh, and indeed boxes and other impediments can be destroyed and are not simply decorations.
The animations are smooth as well, allowing for an even fight. The game is fully voiced too, with the dealer giving random quips depending on how well (or badly) you are faring. Unfortunately, there were times when he would immediately repeat himself. Sound effects are fairly standard during the fight scenes with the usual sword clangs and shield bashes evident.
Play the Endless Mode
Although I did have my issues with progression in the Story Mode, Endless Mode with its gradual progression is a heap of fun and feels more like a RPG as you gain improved weapons and skills while you move through the chapters. The combat, although on the basic side, is actually quite enjoyable as you roll away from one attacker to the next and dodge blows and projectiles. Watching the slow-mo of the final sword slash as it connects with the last remaining foe is thoroughly rewarding, especially in the later chapters of the Story Mode. So if you are looking for a deck-building game with some action, then Hand of Fate is well worth your time.
Looks great and links the multiple genres well
Story mode progression could do with some refining. Luck can often cause your downfall.