Review: Hand of Fate

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Hand of Fate began as a Kickstarter campaign that was successfully funded on Dec. 13, 2013. Defiant Development asked for a modest amount of $50K, but what is Hand of Fate? Well, it is a table top card game with deck building mechanics that also has rogue-like elements, RPG elements, and a combat system similar to Batman: Arkham City or Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

30 Second Review

+ Unlock new cards by playing the game

+ Lots of replayability

+ Cards add a new dimension to procedurally generated content

– Cards are stylized after Tarot cards

– The game’s difficulty increases quickly and may discourage casual gamers

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Hail to the King Baby

I really didn’t know what to expect from Hand of Fate. It sounded like something I would enjoy based on its Kickstarter description. I just wasn’t sure that all of those elements would work well together. I am happy to say I was surprised. Defiant Development pulled all of these elements together and it works great! No longer are you placed on a familiar map with a few changes here and there, but it’s an entirely new and refreshing spin on the table top experience. You never know what to expect until you turn over the next card.

I’m fearful that now I’m going to want all of my dungeon rogue-likes to come with cards now. No more rolling a six-sided die to determine your fate; now you just pick a card. At the worst your odds in Hand of Fate are 1 in 4, which are odds than anyone can love.

Lately there has been a burst of trading card games entering the scene. It is nice to have a card game where you unlock new and more exciting cards simply by playing the game. You can have all of the fun of building a card deck in Hand of Fate without draining your wallet in the process.

Hand of Fate has two modes: story and endless. The endless challenge is going to be where all the replayability is once you’ve finished the story. The story slowly introduces new cards and presents you with the opportunity to learn what you like and what you don’t like about each card. It is also where the deck building element is present. Once you go into endless, it takes all the cards available and throws you to the wolves, and the level of difficulty is increased even further.

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Oh My Lich

A lot of people have voiced a singular complaint against Hand of Fate. They do not all agree on why, but they agree they do not like the combat system. Let’s examine this closer shall we? The combat system is a similar system that’s used in Batman: Arkham City or Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but that is where the similarities end. Everyone is forgetting that those two titles were big budget titles that had a lot of financial backing and big names standing behind them. They had access to many resources, one of which was motion capture.

Hand of Fate is an indie title. It was created on a small and modest budget of $50K. Trying to compare the combat in this game to the combat in those other games is a disservice in my humble opinion. The other thing people seem to be forgetting is that the release price of Hand of Fate is also half the price of those other titles.

Hand of Fate brings a combat system to life using only animations. It’s not perfect or as responsive as I would like, but I think we’ve been very spoiled by the big studio budgets when it comes to this combat system. I like the little touches that are present in Hand of Fate. When you are fighting an enemy, it will suffer combat damage. For instance, you can cut an undead skeleton’s head in half, lop off his shield-bearing arm, or even destroy the shield with brute force. It’s done well, especially for the budget. Defiant Development put a lot of thought into the implementation of this part of their game–wonderful attention to detail that is just being overlooked because of its AAA counterparts.

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Tarot Style and Difficulty

I want to specifically mention this aspect of the game, because it may be a reasonable turn off for some gamers. They are not using actual Tarot cards in Hand of Fate. I think it’s important to note that while the cards were definitely influenced by Tarot cards in shape, design, and imagery; you’re not actually playing with a Tarot deck. However, the similarities are so close, that at times it even made me feel a little uncomfortable. That doesn’t make this a bad game by any means, but I definitely think it should be a factor that you consider before purchasing.

Hand of Fate starts off fairly easy, but after the fifth or sixth boss battle, it goes from being fairly easy to brutal. It will be very challenging for the remainder of the game. While I enjoy a difficult and challenging rogue-like game, I also understand that this particular degree of challenge is not going to be suited for everyone. If you’re more of a casual gamer, become frustrated easily, or do not enjoy procedurally generated games, then you may want to skip this one.

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To Buy or Not to Buy

I really enjoyed playing Hand of Fate, and I am going to continue playing it. Although it does have a massive amount of replayability, I do think the starting price of $24.99 is a little high for what it is. If you enjoy rogue-like, card collecting, and deck building mechanics wrapped together in one game, then you will definitely want to put this on your wishlist at the very least.

I really feel the sweet spot price for Hand of Fate is $14.99. It plays well, and I didn’t encounter any bugs or errors. Defiant Development really cared about the product they were delivering and it shows. I look forward to their future endeavors.