Hand of Fate 2 (Switch eShop) Review
It’s always been interesting to see the difference between board and card games, and video games. Both have their rules, one is taught before the game starts, and the other while the game begins. Two different approaches that make each type of gaming fundamentally different. So I was curious to see how a Dungeons and Dragons, meets trading card game and hack and slash video game worked out. And it’s interesting to see how compatible, or in some cases incompatible, all of these things are.
Hand of Fate 2 is basically a deck building style of board game, with combat encounters playing out as an over the shoulder hack and slash. There are many different types of encounters and scenarios outside of combat, however, with the narrative being presented much like a tabletop RPG like Dungeons and Dragons- so you’ll need to go in expecting to play a lot of this with your own imagination.
The interesting part of the deck building, is that it’s less you playing cards from a hand, and more about having influence over encounters. The nature of the game means that you’ll most likely not succeed on the first try. In most other games, this would mean redoing the level, while Hand of Fate will just let you put the specific encounter card into a different mission for another shot.
Speaking of, the deck for each mission has a handful of cards that can’t be altered, with the option of adding in new encounter cards you picked up from previous missions. Each mission will then lay down each of the cards face down, where you move your token once per turn over the top of them. Landing on an unturned card will then start the encounter.
The bulk of the game will be spent in these encounters, one way or another. Some will just be a vendor, to buy food and resources, while some will just be dialogue and narrative. There’s plenty of choices to be made, sometimes leading to rewards, and others leading to combat.
Combat in Hand of Fate is an odd beast. It plays well, with a fairly stock standard hack and slash style of gameplay, with block/dodge prompts to keep you paying attention. The main problem I had with the combat, is while it is very much the skill portion of the game, the luck portion of the card/board game parts can leave you in some very frustrating fights.
Dying in combat will fail the entire mission, and while a lot of these missions aren’t terribly long, it can mean you get stuck in a loop. I had one mission with multiple ‘blizzard’ cards that would sap my health, lead to a ‘pick a card’ encounter with only 25% chance of not losing more health but a 25% chance of losing a ton more and a tricky combat section. I must have died there over and over at least 10 times before I squeaked past.
And while I did compare Hand of Fate to Dungeons and Dragons, the fundamental difference, for me at least, is that the DM is a bot, not a human. While a human DM may give you allowances at their discretion, the robot DM has very strict rules it sticks by. This leads to some frustrating moments that stack up to make the game even harder out of nothing but luck.
But it’s all still a fascinating idea, with a rich world for you to explore. It’s the closest thing to a true hybrid of a book and a video game, with plenty of reliance on your own imagination mixed with excitement and control. I’d highly recommend it if you’re after a deep game to take your time with and soak in, and if you’re used to really bad dice rolls.
+ Really unique blend of card game and combat
+ Rich narrative and world
- At the mercy of luck
- Unforgiving scenarios sometimes