Playing the cards you’re dealt.
I was a big fan of Hand of Fate. Sure, the combat was rough and clunky in some spots, but the game made up for it with some great presentation and some really interesting mechanics that, as a table top gamer and a collectable card game player, really made me enjoy the overall experience. Finally, after being teased about it for well over a year, we get our hands on Hand of Fate 2. It comes with some improvements, new mechanics, and a story mode that is both varied in the quests as it is the encounters themselves.
Players are once again a player in a fantasy game that revolves around cards, luck, and skill. The dealer is back from the first game with still some great lines that come up when obtaining new cards or seeing them for the first time. His banter has always and will always be welcome in my games. Players can now customize their character’s looks and change them at any time. The main board of the game has players choosing a quest related to a specific person in the world. Instead of randomly generating “dungeons” for the player to go through in order to make it to the boss of the quest, Hand of Fate 2 has quests that each have main goals to them, and they all vary in nature.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Price I’d pay: $29.99
One quest had me searching for relics to obtain before taking on a boss, but with each relic, I gained a curse. Another quest had me trying to gather information from a thieves’ guild in order to stop an assassination on the leader of the guild. That one in particular really sold me on this new mechanic and added so much to my experience.
The main crux of the game remains the same from the first game. Players move from card to card, doing the events on the card they land on and moving on to the end of the line until they reach the end fight. The addition of quest objectives adds more to the dungeon than just going from point A to point B. Each card represents an encounter. To begin with, the player only has a few to go with, but completing quests unlocks more cards to use for the next quest. Encounter cards can be anything from a treacherous skill check, a merchant to buy equipment, a possibility to gain a blessing, and many other things. Think of it as a streamlined Dungeons & Dragons that uses templates for their adventures.
Along the way, players can gain cards that offer up better weapons, armor, blessings, and other goods. They must still pay attention to their gold, health, and food supplies, as they run out depending on what they do. Food is needed to move around on the game board. If one moves with no food in their reserves, they begin taking damage from starvation.
A new addition to the game is the usage of companions. Certain quests will unlock a new companion that will help out in both combat and in other situations. These offer helpful abilities that can really get the player out of a pinch in combat. The trickster mage can place a bubble around the player and protect them from a single hit while the Northerner brute companion can charge an enemy and stun them. Things like that that can really help out in a bind. On top of that, they can also lend their help in skill checks by giving the player an extra dice for a roll.
Speaking of which, there are more added to the skill checks this go around. Instead of just a card shuffle with success and failure cards, players are now tasked with much more. They may have to roll dice for a certain number, pick from a rotating roulette, or time their attempts to a metronome. It adds a bit more to it rather than the mundane choose the right card in an almost impossible card shuffle.
There are 22 quests in all. Mix that with multiple new card encounters that allow the player to replay older quests with newer cards, and Hand of Fate 2 turns out to be a rather lengthy experience that players can easily clock 12 hours in and still not seen everything the game has to offer. Plus, the quests that are here can be completed multiple ways, and doing so can unlock even more cards to play with for encounters. Mix all that with the fact that before a quest, players can pick and choose which cards to bring in for encounters, equipment found, and companions and you have yourself a fully customizable experience.
Now, the combat was the weakest thing in the first Hand of Fate. While I can say the combat is improved here in the sequel, it is still not the best. It takes elements from the Batman: Arkham games with single button abilities for attacking, countering, dodging, and bashing. Each weapon has a special move that can be used once the player has gotten a high enough combo without getting damaged. It works, and works better than the original game, but there are still some clunky things about it. My character would randomly choose to hit an enemy behind them rather than the one in front, or my companion would be off doing some random thing and not really helping. I was able to look past it though due to the wonderful presentation and card adventuring parts, just like I was with the first game.
Hand of Fate 2 is a well done sequel. It adds a lot more to the game while keeping things both familiar and fresh at the same time. The choose your own adventure aspects of it and the ability to tailor make your experience really add a lot to the overall package, and while repetitiveness can set in, it most certainly doesn’t happen until later on in the game. Even then, the quests’ objectives and the different ways they can be completed offer up more variety than the first game ever showed. Fans of the first game should definitely pick this sequel up and RPG and adventure fans should shy away from it either. It’s a really fun and unique experience.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.