The original Hand of Fate was one of the biggest feel good surprises from 2015. It launched from humble beginnings as a successful Kickstarter that only asked for $50,000 AUD. Hand of Fate definitely punched outside of its weight class earning critical praise. It’s unique twist on a deck building card game mixed with video game combat was a refreshing take on the roguelike genre.
It’s two years later and Defiant Development is at it again with Hand of Fate 2. Not straying too far from the humble roots that made the first game so interesting you take on the role of a hero who is vying to survive the gypsy card game. The dealer from the first game returns defeated and is looking for what can only be considered revenge. There is also an overarching narrative that ties the entire series of missions together but it’s so bonkers from the beginning that I checked out. In the first chapter you are robbed and then end up helping the highwayman that held you up. It literally made no sense.
The game unfurls through a series of missions. For each of these missions, or chapters, you will use a deck that you build from cards that you have acquired. The deck is made up of equipment, encounter, and companion cards. You can choose which cards you want to use in your deck or you can allow the game’s imps to choose for you. You’ll end up making a better deck than the game will; however, the deck the game makes will suffice if you just want it to be quick and easy.
Once you’ve created a deck the gypsy dealer will lay the cards out on the table in a formation that in essence creates a game board. You’ll choose which card to move to. Once you move to that card it will be turned over and you’ll take on the encounter. These can range from having to fight a group of thugs, to helping a hobbit win an arm wrestling match. In the former you’ll cut into a third person battle scene which plays out like an action RPG, for the latter it will require that you roll a set of dice. If you successfully complete the task you will be rewarded with gold, food, health, equipment, or an additional card to add to your deck for later missions.
The first few chapters are very simple allowing you to quickly get a feel for the mechanics of the game. After the opening chapters the difficulty ramps up forcing you to be more efficient with your resource management and more proficient in combat. That second part is a bit of a pain because WASD movement in combat is awkward at best and I felt like I took a lot of hits that weren’t necessarily deserved. Fortunately the game does have controller support and makes for a more pleasant experience than a mouse and keyboard.
As you progress across the board you’ll eat a piece of food for each card you move. If you run out of food you’ll start to take damage and each move will cost you 10 life. In addition to managing your food you’ll also earn gold that you can use to purchase equipment or if you are down on your luck more food. But in order to do so you’ll have to come across a merchant. There is another resource to manage as well and that is fame. You’ll earn fame from completing challenges and accomplishing minor tasks throughout the larger missions. Sometimes you’ll need a certain level of fame to equip an item and others you’ll need it to actually complete the mission.
In addition to the larger narrative that ties the game together there is also a game map. This is a new feature in Hand of Fate 2. Once you complete a mission you’ll move on to the next mission on the game board. Certain missions will open up more than one pathway allowing you to choose which direction you want to go on the map. This adds a refreshing bit of player agency in how the story progresses in a game that is overwhelmingly driven by the dealer.
Hand of Fate 2 doesn’t reinvent the Hand of Fate franchise but it does add a few new twists to the already ingenious game to make it feel fresh again. If you enjoyed the first game chances are you’ll like this one just as much. Just be prepared to get good at combat or you are in for a long learning curve.
- New challenges
- New cards
- More of what made the first game great
- WASD movement is clunky in combat