Hand of Fate Review
Want to spice up your Dungeons & Dragons campaign? The folks at Defiant Development are shaking up the D&D formula with the card-battling beat-em-up extravaganza Hand of Fate. Should you roll for initiative, or are you better off holding on to your dice?
Hand of Fate Review
The medieval themes, characters, and all-important dungeon master are all present and accounted for in Hand of Fate, but the game differs from Dungeons & Dragons in one big way: its cards. Unlike D&D’s patented 20-sided dice, Hand of Fate places it fate in the cards. While the player itself is signified as a pawn, your item inventory, method of transportation, and even odds of survival are entrusted to a deck of cards. This makes for a refreshing take on dungeon crawling, one that forces a player to familiarize themselves with the deck. This deck also grows each match, adding curses, adversaries, and rare loot to the mix.
This card concept also plays heavily into the player’s own deck. One can choose which weapons, armor, and abilities to bring to the table, adding an RPG-style inventory system to the proceedings. While welcome, choices often do not make as big of an impact as one may think. Even special abilities like the eight-way Damocles blaster offer such a small damage output that deciding whether or not to pick them is often a wash.
Unfortunately, Hand of Fate’s DM oftentimes plays dirty. The endless stream of curse cards hinder play, but the constant cycling of boss cards and unlucky situations make for many no-win situations. It’s true that the DM wants you to lose, but it would be much better if it boiled down to one’s own skill rather than string of mandatory gambles.
Of course, there is plenty of traditional beat-em-up action to be had in Hand of Fate. The ultimate goal of each round is to take down a big bad baddie, defeating both them and a near-endless stream of minions along the way. Certain cards require the player to fight anywhere from two to twelve enemies, each requiring a different strategy. Characters like the magic-heavy mages require a rushdown, while the lizard-like Scales require players to break their defenses before going in for an all-out attack. This adds some variety to battles, and helps to prevent battles from devolving into button mashing melees.
However, Hand of Fate’s combat could use some fine tuning. The game feels the need to do a slow-motion pan 300-style every couple of strikes, completely ruining any flow. AI can also be downright idiotic as well, running into traps and other minion’s attacks all willy-nilly. The counter system (which borrows heavily from the Arkham series) adds some depth to combat, but does not work when surrounded by goons.
Hand of Fate wears its inspiration on its sleeve, but its deck has a few new surprises. Those looking for something new will find something to like here, but diehard dungeon crawlers might be better off waiting for the next edition.