~A Twist of Fate~
Hand of Fate is what’s called a roguelike RPG, but this roguelike has a little twist as it mixes RPG elements with deck building and for the most part it works very well. The game starts off fairly basic as it reels you in and teaches you how to play. Unfortunately though one of Hand of Fate’s biggest problems is that it’s far too easy and forgiving for the first 50% of the game. The lack of challenge results in the player becoming bored and frustrated because not much is happening and you begin to sense the repetitive nature of the game. But once you breeze past the first few hours the difficulty spikes up and the game comes alive, you need to be wary and think of all your actions as the duel really begins.
There isn’t much in terms of story, but the main motivation of the game is to defeat the card dealer by beating his 12 boss cards which have more abilities and health than all the other cards in the Hand of Fate. The game is easy to follow and understand plus if you really want to get invested in the game there is a bit of lore to read up on. Character wise the game is bare bones, it’s just you against the card dealer. When it’s time to engage in combat you’re in control of a mindless puppet, there is no dialogue from him and he has no emotions or traits, he’s just there to do your dirty work. It’s the card dealer that helps bring the game to life, he’s very vital to the game because without him it would be very dull. This mysterious masked man has an awe about him which makes you wish you knew more. He has good lines of dialogue that are both witty and sarcastic.
The heart of any roguelike action RPG is its gameplay and combat. While very simple, Hand of Fate’s combat is fun and is at its best when your fighting off 10 enemies whilst dodging the traps in the environment and rolling and deflecting magic attacks and arrows back to the bandits or rat people that are fired your way. You have a good amount of weapon cards to collect which all have a base damage value and some of the weapons will have special abilities such as the power to shoot ice and freeze your foes or burning your opponents to ash. As well as weapon cards to collect there are armours, shields, helmets, trinkets and blessings which will help lead you to victory or see you destroyed by the card dealer. The fun is seeing which card you will draw next and which way your mini journey will go. The actual fighting is easy to grasp and pick up. You only have a few things to remember. Attack. Counter, Stun, Roll and Special move. That’s pretty much it from start to finish, not a lot of changes or anything to keep it fresh so it’s fair to say the game is very repetitive.
For a card battling game the graphics are surprisingly good and do a lot more than was expected. The environment’s are well varied from forests, dark dungeons to my favourite; a cliff side with a beautiful view of the dark depressing sea and moon shining bright. There are many more and it gives the game some much needed personality and a great sense that you’re going on a journey from place to place. Watching your cards come to life is fun; at the start of each battle your character appears on the battlefield and you automatically place cards on your warrior of the items he has equipped. It looks cool and reminds you that at heart it’s a card game but that feeling soon wears thin and you’ll be bored of the same animation over and over again, so it’s a good job you can skip the battle intro. Sadly you’re very likely going to be skipping over a certain parts of the game because it feels like it’s moving too slow, at a snails pace.
Especially the loading times and choppy frame rate, the game gets over excited with too many spells and enemies on screen at once, even at the start of the game when the dealer is shuffling the deck the frame rate is very bad. Cards have a story behind them with written text explaining the details of what’s about to happen and giving you your options and how to deal with the situation. However, because of the games repetitive nature you will start drawing the same cards that you’ve drawn many times before and start skipping all walls of writing as you’ve seen it already and know it off by heart at this point.
Hands of Fate is an very interesting combination that works well but wasn’t executed in the best way possible. You have to manage your Health, Food and Coins in order to make your way past each stage. It’s very well balanced in that aspect because all three have an impact and it’s about maintaining them all as high as possible versus the risk reward. I had fun but it took a while to get going and there isn’t anything added to help bring the spark back into the game. Once you start the game you’ve pretty much seen everything except when you unlock new cards and bosses to fight. The repetitiveness is what really kills the game.