by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
A glimpse of the future
I was lucky enough to get to play Hand of Fate at PAX AUS near the end of last year. Even though I only had ten to fifteen minutes to play the game and chat to the indie developers at Defiant Development, it looked reasonably complete at that early stage. Of course at these game shows developers will often show you only what they wish you to see so when the game released on Steam, it was the perfect opportunity to see how it had progressed in the few months since.
Hand of Fate is part computerised table-top card game and part action RPG (well, RPG-lite). You begin in a dank gypsy/tarot-card reader setting, opposite the card dealer. The dealer deals out the cards onto the table and the story progresses through the order in which the cards are selected. You move a token from one card to the next, progressing through the chapter. Some of the chapters are linear and require a direct path to the exit card on the opposite side of the table, whilst other chapters have the cards arranged in a way that there are multiple paths to the exit card. Indeed, even in some points, the exit card is not always opposite the entrance.
As mentioned, for each chapter, a number of cards are placed on the table. There is always an Exit card (which leads you to the next chapter), and usually at least one Encounter card, an Ambush card (where you must fight a randomly selected enemy), a Merchant card, and a Boss card. The game has two modes: Story Mode and Endless Mode. In Story Mode, the game plays out in chapters whereby the chapter closes once the Boss card is defeated. Endless Mode is, as its name suggests, a mode that continues until your character dies.
As you move your token one space, you reveal the cards underneath. Revealing an Encounter card will give you the chance to make a decision, often involving helping someone. After selecting your choice on the Encounter cards, the chance of performing the Encounter are then based on Chance cards. Four cards are displayed with varying degrees of failure and success displayed on the cards. They are then turned over and shuffled. The number of enemies or skill multipliers will then be activated depending on which card you select. A Failure card could result in doubling the enemy size or an immediate reduction in your health bar, whilst a Success card, could boost your health, grant a temporary buff or even surprise the enemy.
Room to swing a sword
Once this has all taken place, the action part of the game begins. An opponent is selected at random from the ‘Enemy deck’ and the focus shifts to a combat setting where you take control of your character on the smallish arena-like battlefield. And I must say, that the action sequences are quite enjoyable, even if they are a little on the basic side. Even if you have been unlucky when it comes to the Chance cards, your skill on the battlefield will determine how you perform.
Combat in both the Story and Endless Modes starts off quite easy, and defeating opponents can be simply a matter of swinging your trusty axe or sword willy-nilly at the band of brigands. But as the game progresses, you will need to access the Defend button, use the Roll function and any special abilities that you have gained through the course of the game. Attackers take various forms and require different strategies to combat. Some are melee fighters that focus on invading your personal space, whilst other fighters have ranged attacks and will attempt to annoy you from a distance like a buzzing mosquito just out of arms reach.
Looks great and links the multiple genres well
Story mode progression could do with some refining. Luck can often cause your downfall.