“If you don’t like the hand that fate’s dealt you, fight for a new one.”
The Indie developers Defiant Development gives us Hand of Fate, a deck builder game with hints of hack and slash titles that we all know and love such like Diablo series.
Hand of Fate
The introduction tells how at the end of the world there are 12 gates that we must cross if we are to fight with the “dealer”. Little is known about this mysterious person and even less is known about us, as we never issue a word.
Each door is guarded by a king or queen, pawn that our apparent archenemy knew from the beginning of time and which serve as bosses for each of the 12 episodes that we must overcome to finally face the creator of the game.
The game begins like any other card game. We can build a deck with different armor, weapons and accessories to equip your character. We can also equip “encounters” that serve small events that we outperform throughout the levels.
The maps are randomly assembled by cards face down. We have the ability to move to each of the cardinal points with the simple cost of 1 serving of food, one of the two currencies that comprise the title, the other being gold. When we move and turn a card, we can find markets or travelers to purchase items from, blessings, heal, food or to heal curses out if we have enough gold. Alternatively we can run into an encounter, and here is where the game gets interesting.
Each encounter has a short story or situation: We may run into a dying hero who asks us to bring their items to a certain place, rescue a princess kidnapped by bandits, to explore a cave and find treasures, or we can also step into an ambush, etc. You get the idea: we will have any kind of situation we can find in any RPG. Each encounter will give us a number of options, such as deciding to rescue the princess or leave her to her fate, fight in an underground arena or try to escape, help a dying peasant with some food or to ignore him.
At this point is where the innovation proposed by the title appears: According to our decision, we will be given a choice of 4 cards that are shuffled in front of our eyes. If we are fast enough with our eyes we can try to follow a Success or Huge success card, otherwise we will need to guess and perhaps we get a Failure or Huge Failure card. If one of the encounters is an ambush, we try to flee and the card is Huge Failure, the game becomes a Hack and Slash game and our armor, spells, powers and weapons in our deck come to life in our avatar in full 3D models.
The fight while is fast and fun, it’s too simple. We have a common attack, a dodge and a counter-attack. We may also have special abilities if the weapon is good enough or we purchase one from a merchant. Enemies unfortunately are not varied, having only 3 varieties, a kind of lizards, skeletons and bandits. Even each of the 12 bosses are very similar to each other, surprising when we see Jack of Plage, a sort of infected rat, and 5 episodes later we have Queen of Plage, an extremely similar boss. And yes, you guessed it, we also fight King of Plague. Each boss has between 2 and 3 special attacks, but all are very well marked and the slow mo helps us avoid all of them without much effort.We will also find mini bosses which unlike the main campaign they have a wider variety. We will fight lava golems, lichs, barbarians, etc. We even get achievements for defeating them all.
The plot is simple but the way is told is excellent. The voice acting of our enemy is impeccable and the sound composition makes fights feel visceral. Unfortunately, the variety of cards is not very high, so by the team you reach the final episodes you will be tired of hearing the same encounters again and again with the same options and usually with the same outcomes.
The same applies to the battles, although at first they may present some difficulties, reaching the final episodes becomes as simple as to attack and dodge. Each movement is well marked, making it almost impossible be defeated in battle. There is an encounter where the devil asks us to pick who to fight. The greater the foe, the greater the reward. The battle system makes picking the higher level bosses the safest and most reward option because our knockdown is so hard that we can simple defeat enemies by spamming simple attacks
The Steam timer scored nine hours when I completed the main campaign, and had not even touched the endless mode that promises many hours of fun. It is definitely a fresh and innovative title, and it gathers the best of deck builders and hack and slash titles.