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Hands of Fate Review

Getting excited and addicted to an adventure card game is something I never imagined would happen, but here I am, yet again face to face with the mysterious Dealer as he shuffles the next round of cards in Hand of Fate.

Steeped in mystery, Hand of Fate rather bravely ignores all introductions and ceremony, instead you are thrust into a strange world, finding yourself sitting opposite the Dealer, a scarf obscuring his face as he welcomes you at the same time as warning you away with tales of the many who have attempted to gain the riches held within the cards. The Dealer himself is the storyteller and games master, creating worlds from the cards dealt, mocking and goading you as your character braves the many hazards he places in your way to find the reason you are risking life and limb.

With cards dealt out on the table in front of you resembling a dungeon layout, it is your quest to move your counter one card at a time, unbeknownst what lies on the turn of a card and it is this randomness of the cards that is equally a blessing and a curse as no round will be the same but at the same time, when lady luck looks the other way the game can be punishing. With your character starting relatively weak, with each deal of a card there is a huge amount of possible scenarios to face, some grant you equipment cards, like a goblin offering a shield or a travelling cleric offering enchantments whilst others are perils to overcome, rivers to cross or ravines to climb down, each offering a choice but all having a large element of chance as if you wish to push forward you need to select from a shuffled deck of success or failure cards; success can mean safe passage or a new item whereas failure can result in loss of health, gold or even worse. The only real way of a greater chance of survival is through repeat plays as with progression you can earn more cards for your deck like better equipment or more favourable events but even then you still rely on the Dealers deal to produce them; on more than one occasion I have fought a boss within the first few moves and failed.

If it was a card game alone Hand of Fate would have been entertaining but not a must have purchase, however what really manages to suck in the player are the encounter cards, with the game then taking on a more action orientated focus, the most common being set in a small battle arena where you play a mini hack and slash game; your wanderer taking on whatever foes the cards have dealt. The action here feels like a light version of the system found in the Batman Arkham games, with simple combo attacks bolstered with well-timed rolls and counters, creating long linked attacks and occasionally throwing in a special move if you have the equipment. It is not all fighting as depending on the cards you may also find yourself in a maze full of traps and tricks, requiring skilful rolls and manoeuvres to get to the booty at the end.

What separates Hand of Fate from being another card game is the sheer level of presentation as the attention to detail is as equally entertaining as the action, more so considering you are face to face with the Dealer for most of the game, his presence never getting tiresome as he is full of tales and conversations, keeping the story interesting and most importantly, having you return after each defeat to try once more. The level of finish to the characters also make this a joy, the characters in the cards coming to life and are beautifully rendered, from goblins to rats and wizards, they all look amazing.

Having never really been a fan of adventure card games in the past, Hand of Fate has made them a lot more accessible, exiting and thrilling, perfectly blending the random encounters and stat building of card games with a more arcade action found on consoles.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PC/Steam)


+ Looks and sounds great
+ Perfect blend of role playing card games and beat-em-up action


- Fate can be cruel (and annoying) as well as kind

Edited On 23 Feb, 2015

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