Hand of Fate is a unique blend of genres. We’re seated at the table, exposing the cards in front of us and making decisions that affect the tale, and then we’re on the battlefield, fighting creatures, much like in an action game.
It begins simply enough. We take a seat across from a masked man who is laying down cards to make an adventure map. The purpose is straightforward: we must travel through the path provided by the stranger, and in the end, we must battle one of the twelve bosses. Each round, we advance the pawn to the next card in the journey’s story, flipping them over and activating various events. We can reveal a card declaring that we have been assaulted by a swarm of goblins, at which point we must deal with our adversaries. There are also shop cards where we may replenish supplies. Others depict chance meetings with NPCs, such as a priestess who can bestow the goddess’s favor on us.
Sometimes a card may start a small tale, a side story. For example, a frightened woman sends us to the inn to pick up her husband. We make decisions by picking certain alternatives shown on the screen – will we try to talk to the man or will we pull him home by force? Most such decisions are rewarded in some way. We are given gold, equipment, and food. However, if we are unlucky, we may be injured or cursed. Encounters with diverse characters are frequently altered with a random aspect. The dealer deals us four cards labeled success, failure, great success, and great failure. Then he shuffles them and instructs them to select one. It’s not always tough, but when the mystery magician mixes the cards too rapidly, we’re forced to rely on the hit-or-miss strategy. Of course, when we enter combat, the game changes dramatically. The dealer then leads us to a tiny arena filled with adversaries. We have power over a hero here, not a pawn, but a fighter.
We are watching the activity from behind his back. The opponent enjoys a numerical edge in practically every conflict. We can’t afford to be motionless. We deliver a few punches, avoid or counter oncoming assaults, and flee to attack opponents further away. The fight is exciting and entertaining. The developers did an excellent job designing the battlefields. Even while a dozen or so maps rapidly get similar, the random aspects such as traps sprinkled across the board keep it from becoming too distracting, and the richness of the settings is truly attractive to the eye. Although the encounters become more identical with time, new challenges in the form of curses and new, tougher opponents keep monotony at bay. It’s also a lot of fun to put together powerful equipment that allows us to rapidly beat groups of adversaries in extended, stunning combos.
Hand of Fate looks nice – both the visuals on the cards and the three-dimensional venues were done with care. Another wonderful detail is that all of our hero’s equipment obviously changes his look. However, there are some problems – during conflicts, the developers overuse slowing down the action, which sometimes makes it substantially more difficult to deflect an approaching bullet and allows us to look at not-so-well-realized item collisions.
The Australian production is unique, lengthy, and at times challenging enough to need you to replay a level a dozen times. It is now one of the year’s most innovative concepts and an exceedingly intriguing experiment combining the characteristics of multiple species.