With games that are designed around trading cards or collectable cards, there isn’t much variety. They basically play out like a virtual version of the real life card game. Personally, I find that boring. I wish there was more innovation among these kinds of games. Don’t make just a virtual collectable card game, do something unique with the genre! That’s why I enjoy seeing games like Ironclad Tactics, which combines tactical RPG mechanics with collectable cards. It’s refreshing, and not just all about collecting cards, making decks, and doing what you could be doing in real life. This is why I love today’s game, Hand of Fate for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. This game combines collectable cards, dungeon crawling, rogue-like elements, and Batman Arkham-style combat. It’s easily one of my favorite games of the year, and is yet another successful Kickstarter game. If you love any of the elements I listed above, then you should easily check this game out. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s an overall enjoyable experience, even more so than most games that have come out this year so far.
The main set-up for the game is that you are at the end of hell. Who awaits you, but a shrouded man who offers you one last journey. If you can beat him at his game, then you will be able to win some of the dealer’s own treasures. Be careful though, traps and many creatures will try and stop you from reaching these individual treasures. Overall, the main deal with this setting is to engross you into its world and atmosphere.
Hand of Fate is a rogue-like-dungeon crawler with action RPG elements. The big gimmick with this game is that the entire dungeon and each level of it are set by a deck of cards. You have cards ranging from individual monster fights to encounters with characters in this game’s universe/lore. These encounters have a lot of variety to them. Some challenges include fighting hordes of enemies in an arena, dodging traps to get to a treasure chest, different shops, dealing with a devil that may or may not let you pick an enemy to fight, getting blessings and curses, or maybe meeting someone who will give you more health. Blessings and curses will give you more abilities or handicaps, depending on the blessing or curse. For example, you could get a blessing that helps you re-choose a card draw if you choose the wrong card, or you could get a curse that makes arrows or projectiles go slower, but cause twice the damage. As you journey across the cards, you will need to keep track of what equipment you have, and how much food you have. Each move across your journey costs you one piece of food. Make sure that food is well stocked or else, your health will take a hit. You have a dungeon crawler with mostly satisfying combat, a random element so each experience will not be the same, an endless mode, which is basically where you keep playing until you give up or die in battle, and a unique universe.
So, how are the graphics? Personally, for a downloadable PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One game, I think it looks nice. It’s like an Unreal Engine 3 game if the Unreal Engine 3 didn’t age like milk on a hot tin roof. The character models are appealing, and there is a solid amount of animation to the individual models. Sure, the ragdoll physics when you kill a character looks incredibly funny, but I think it fits the overall vibe of the game to an extent, since you are basically a board game piece being brought to life during action sequences. However, my favorite character in terms of animation, look, and voice work has to be the dealer. He is a very entertaining character who ranges from being impressed with your victory, to being incredibly sarcastic towards you. The music is solid. It isn’t anything especially memorable, but it fits the mood, whether you are fighting or engrossed in the ominous sounds as you travel across the cards.
Let’s talk about the downsides of the game, because there are a few. My first complaint comes with the combat. While it can be super satisfying, it’s still a little clunky. I love this kind of combat that is found in the Batman Arkham games, but it almost doesn’t fit what this game is dishing out. The swings of your weapons are slow, and leave you open to attacks, and you can say good bye to your health bar if you have to deal with 10 or more enemies. I have even had moments where I pressed the button to counter a move, but it didn’t work. Maybe it’s because I have been playing a whole lot of Bayonetta 2, but they should adjust the animations and make it so you don’t get any cheap shots from the baddies. This next complaint is just personal taste, but I feel like the food system is really tedious. This is especially true if you have to deal with running out of food and starting to lose health. Sometimes the odds are not evenly set between you and your dealer. I know challenge is a must, since no one wants to go through a game with nothing stopping them from progressing, but at times, it seemed as though the odds were stacked more in the dealer’s favor. Again, I love challenge, but at the same time, I want the challenge to be fair. My final issue with the game is your main character. While this game is more about engrossing you into this weird world and journey, and it does a fantastic job at that, there really isn’t much to your character. If my character doesn’t really have a backstory, or if he does, it’s vague at best. They should at least let me make my own character.
Even with these complaints, the overall package is so good! This is easily one of the best games of this year. Sure, its $20 price tag is a bit much, and due to some of the issues, I would think the game is better at $15, but the game is so much fun, it has a lot of replay value, a fantastic visual presentation, and is pretty unique among the games that are out right now. If you love dungeon crawlers, roguelike games, and are looking for something very interesting, then you should definitely pull up a chair, shuffle the deck, and check this game out!
This game gets an 9 out of 10.