Hand of Fate is a unique game unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Hand of Fate mixes RPG and rogue like features with elements of collectible/board games and action adventure sequences. Hand of Fate releases on PS4 and Xbox One February 17th at 4pm PST on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Marketplac for $19.99.
Hand of Fate’s story is rather interesting though hard to fully judge until you beat the entire game. At the time of writing this review the final boss battle with the Dealer is unplayable due to an incredible amount of lag, so until the time it is fixed I have no idea how the story ends. The game starts when you meet a mysterious dealer in a cabin in the end of the world. He proceeds to challenge you to a game in which you must defeat 12 bosses and ultimately him. Throughout the game as you participate in random encounters, hints of a much larger story shine through. The dealer and characters in certain encounters will say and do certain things that make me believe there is something much bigger and better at play than a simple card game at the end of the world. Unfortunately though I have not yet experienced it but am eager to one day.
The graphics in Hand of Fate are quite spectacular with the environments and atmosphere of the world feeling very engaging. The water rising and falling, spiders running out of cracks in the walls, the animations of the action adventure sequences look amazing and make the world feel like something amazing. My favorite thing in Hand of Fate though happens to be the card dealing animations at the start and end of each boss battle. Unfortunately, most of the time the game lags during the animations and ends up skipping a large majority of them. Despite the stability issues the game looks amazing with some really beautiful animations, when they work.
Hand of Fate is a game of few sounds, it has the wonderful background music and elegant card drawing sounds but not too much else. The upside is that this is completely fine; the lack of sounds actually makes the game a little more dramatic and interesting. Most of the time the games audio worked as intended but there were a few incidents where the game would cut out about 99% of the audio leaving you with mostly text and a few random sounds.
The gameplay is the most exciting and interesting aspect of the game. At the beginning of each boss dungeon you put a number of both equipment and encounter cards in your deck that the game will randomly spawn. When you start the dungeon the dealer will add in his own cards, mostly bad ones, and then pick a random layout and spawn random encounter cards that you must move to to ultimately get to the dungeon boss. The best part is that no two dungeons will be the same, whether replaying the same boss dungeon or a different one. Sometimes the game will spawn layouts where you have to choose a certain path and other times you will be able to choose which direction you want to go in. When you land on an encounter card there are a large number of different things that can happen. You can either have a character give you supplies or gold, or you can end up fighting 10 enemies. Some encounters have you choosing cards that mix themselves up, like a shell game, and make you try to find the success or sometimes even the failure card. These encounters, to me, are the most fun and interesting as sometimes choosing the failure card can unlock new things. As you complete encounters in the game you unlock tokens, depending on if you complete the encounter in a certain way, which then give you access to new cards which can be encounters or weapons.
Hand of Fate has a surprisingly large number of encounters if you choose to attempt to unlock them. If you do choose to unlock different cards, each boss dungeon can feel very different as you put in and take out different encounters that you have unlocked and completed. If deckbuilding isn’t your strong suit, the game does have an auto recommendation button that builds the entire deck for you before each dungeon. Unfortunately when you find certain encounters the game will spawn a large number of enemies, which ultimately makes the game laggy. While the lag is not completely terrible, it does give the game a little bit of a time delay making countering and moving around a slight issue. The worst part of the game is when you finally get to the dealer boss battle. The battle has I believe 4 parts where you fight 3 of the 12 boss battles in each wave. The first wave however was incredibly laggy but I managed to get through it after struggling with it for a little bit. I was not so lucky with the second wave however, it was so incredibly laggy, with approximately a 3-5 second delay between the time I hit a button and it actually happened on screen, that it was impossible for me to do anything at all, let alone make it through the wave. Hopefully this incredible laggyness is fixed in an upcoming patch so that I may one day make it through the game.
On another note this game does have an Endless mode that lets you just keep playing until you inevitably die, but the issues that plague Story Mode, mostly lag, are still evident and will potentially hinder your progress at one point or another. Hand of Fate does also have 34 trophies or achievements for you to collect, including a Platinum for your PlayStation gamers out there. It’s worth noting that this review was written based on the PS4 version of the game, so certain issues may or may not be present in the Xbox One, PC, or Vita copies of the game.
Hand of Fate is a very unique and exciting game unlike anything I’ve played before, and I’ve played a lot of games. I never expected to have as much fun as I did with it until I started playing it and became instantly hooked. Despite its many amazing features and gameplay mechanics the game has some serious stability issues on the PS4 that make completing the game almost impossible. With a stability patch along with some other small minor fixes this game could become the next great indie game, potentially one of the best of the year, but until that time it is a game you will play for 10ish hours and then eventually give up on out of frustration. Despite the issues currently present I would still recommend everyone at least giving Hand of Fate a try for its interesting, original, and exciting gameplay mechanics.
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