Hand of Fate 2 Review
If you like card games and RPGs, Hand of Fate 2 provides something of an innovative middle ground. But is it an all-around fun experience or does it depend on the luck of the draw?
Hand of Fate 2 combines cards, fantasy, and storytelling to make a unique RPG experience, though not in the vein of Hearthstone. In this new adventure by Defiant Development, players travel the world with and through a deck of cards. Cards govern everything: gear, encounters, success. Quite a bit of skill and brain matter is required, but winning isn’t always a matter of “gitting gud.”
“Every mission is a procedurally-generated journey that considers the cards you own and the cards you’re dealt”
Put simply, the game requires your close attention to all the variables. There are missions in the form of ‘Challenges.’ Each map is an arrangement of cards set up like a tabletop game. You move your piece and the card reveals an ‘encounter.’ Every mission is a procedurally-generated journey that considers the cards you own and the cards you’re dealt, which equates to a game with infinite replayability. Want to visit a tavern? There’s a card for that. Rescue a damsel in distress? There’s a card for that. Killing an ogre based on lies spread by desperate townfolk? There’s a card for that. It’s almost Dungeons and Dragons with a Pokerface. Little did I know how much gambling would be involved.
From rolling the dice to picking a random card, some encounters deliver the anxiety that comes with entering a casino (It’s called “Hand of Fate” for a reason). Not to be taken so seriously, mind you. As the player, I definitely felt a measure of control over my journey but still felt the heavy hand of luck impacting my progress. Simple bad luck even killed some playthroughs.
Speaking of progress, progression/narration in Hand of Fate 2 is driven by a bunch of text. There’s a lot of reading involved, easily more than a book’s worth (not that you’ll read everything). So I’m not going to lie, if you don’t like reading, you may not have the patience for questing.To the game’s credit, there’s plenty of compelling storytelling and lore. And it’s worth keeping in mind that reading is accompanied by action gameplay.
Combat is practically a breather between the onslaughts of text. It’s hands-on and where most of your skill will be channeled. It’s also where the graphics shine. The visuals do their job of illustrating a colorful world, at least when innocents aren’t dying from plague, raids, or other catastrophes. As soon as you drop into a fight, there’s a healthy dose of environmental and Fantasy spectacle. More importantly, it’s fun.
“Successfully, Hand of Fate 2 capitalizes on the card-collecting aspect by motivating players to collect them all”
As for combat design, it is simple yet intuitive, taking a few cues from Warner Bros games like Shadow of Mordor and the Arkham series—only minus the realism that comes with a huge budget. Thankfully, animations are original and built by the Defiant team. Furthermore, weapons, armor, and gear factor significantly into the outcome of battles. Finding the best combination of armor and weaponry only intensified my itch to fight, and the variety intensified my desire to explore every map.
Successfully, Hand of Fate 2 capitalizes on the card-collecting aspect by motivating players to collect them all. For instance, different weapons you find bring different move sets, and each has its own pros and cons. You’re limited, however, in what you can carry. That said, there’s almost no chance you’ll ever be fully prepared unless you’re playing on repeat.
Hand of Fate 2 is a double-edged sword in that you never really know what to expect. Each Challenge offers a vague summary before the adventure begins. Therefore, the cards you choose may not help. Worse, they can be counterproductive.
Whether it was lackluster gear, inconvenience, or a lack of supplies, several quests saw me go from near success to death in a few chance encounters. There were a few cases of the reverse. Still, the stipulation that comes with every collected card is that you don’t know what it does until you use it. This wouldn’t be so bad, but some cards serve no other purpose than to throw a wrench in progress. As a result, we have a game that throws a lot of emphasis—probably too much—on hindsight.
I realize I cannot account for the breadth of the experience that is Hand of Fate 2 – there is just so much to do. There are missions, companions, and a seemingly never-ending chain of events. Anyone with time on their hands can find satisfaction in the experience without ever finishing the game. Not to mention there are loads of surprises and unique adventures that differ from one to the next. The dependence on luck and rolls of the dice; however, make it unpredictable and unique at the cost of perfection. But, I think the creators know that.
***A PS4 review code was provided by the publisher***
- Infinite Replayability
- Fun Combat
- Great Storytelling
- Loads of Content
- Chance will control entire outcomes