Hand of Fate Review

Developer: Deviant Development
Publisher: Deviant Development
Format: Xbox one
Release Date: February 18th, 2015
Copy provided by publisher

Hand of Fate’s gameplay is a unique combination of text-based adventures, Dungeon’s and Dragons, and modern action. The player begins on a random setup which acts as a level of a dungeon. You are then free to move in any available direction to find the exit that leads to the next level of the dungeon. Each card has the potential to reveal a random encounter. These encounters can be in the form of traps, strangers, or locations. Each encounter can be played out in a different way depending on the characters decisions.

For example, one quest tasks you with returning a sword and shield to its rightful owner. You can choose to either accept or decline the quest altogether. If you accept, you keep the weapons until you reach the destination to return them. Upon reaching your destination you can decline to hand them over, which is an enticing proposition considering they are most likely better than your current weapons. If you choose to give them over you will be rewarded with two Blessing Cards which grant miscellaneous bonuses. A random drawing of a “Success” or “Failure” card also can occur which acts as a dice roll to determine the outcome of a situation.

The amount of different choices in each encounter combined with the total number of encounters available in the game is what make Hand of Fate different every time you play it.

Once combat is initiated, Hand of Fate transitions from the table-top to a third-person action game. The combat is similar to the Arkham or Assassin’s Creed games. Dodge, Stun, Attack, and Counter are the primary controls for each fight. The shield will quickly become your best friend in almost any situation. Unlike other similarly controlled action games, you cannot counter without a shield equipped. Once you go shield, you won’t go back.

Enemies in Hand of Fate have a variety of looks and moves. From range attacks, melee, un-blockable moves, and even a few spells mixed in. The combat really shines when you get a decent sized group of enemies that have varying styles. Boss fights also tend to mix things up by adding unique abilities.

Deck Builder
The Deck Builder in Hand of Fate will immediately seem familiar to any Magic The Gathering fan. Players can setup their Equipment and Encounter decks with any unlocked cards up to the maximum limit. Any recently unlocked cards will appear with hidden attributes and will be revealed once drawn during the game. The Deck Builder plays a crucial role in the Story Mode and allows the player to use newly unlocked weapons/armor and experience new encounters.

Story & Endless Mode
Story Mode serves as your traditional story with final boss encounters at the end of each dungeon and lore to serve as their background. The Endless mode tasks the player with lasting as long as possible under increasingly difficult predicaments. As an added difficulty measure, the Dealer will draw a card at the start of every new level that will negatively effect the player such as -5 Gold or -15 Health. In both Story and Endless Mode, the player must restart if the Health indicator reaches zero making each and every counter important to the final outcome.

There are 33 achievements on Xbox One and in the time I played I only unlocked 5 through natural gameplay. Most of them seem like a grind more than being actually difficult. Specific achievements such as “King of the Undead” for Equipping all Skeleton King Items at once, or “Juggernaut” for Possessing 150 or more Health will most likely require deep runs of Endless Mode.

Hand of Fate is an interesting take on the traditional gameplay of Dungeons and Dragons by mixing elements of deck building and action games. The Story Mode serves as the meat of the game where players can unlock various equipment and encounter cards, while Endless Mode is for the hardcore fans looking for replayability. The third-person combat is surprisingly decent albeit a clone of the Batman/Assassin’s Creed variety. The price is a little steep, but any fan of the text-based DnD style of games will feel right at home.

+ Endless mode for replayability and a challenge
+ Lore behind each Boss
+ Unique mix of Gameplay
– The Dealer talks a little too much
– High Price
– Combat without a Shield is very difficult

Score: 7/10

What I Played: 9 hours completing seven story bosses and lasting to Dungeon Level 6 in Endless Mode.

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