Hand of Fate – Early Access Review

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Game-play: Card Game, RPG, Action, Single Player

Price: $24.99

Available on PC (through Steam Early Access), and soon Playstation 4

Developer/Publisher: Defiant Development

The game opens with an impressive cinematic. A mystical Dealer weaving his magic around the decks of cards that levitate over the table before he laid them out in front of him, inviting me to sit and play. It gave me a feel for what was to come. While the opening cinematic for the Dealer was excellent, it left me wondering a few things. First, who is this mysterious character, and aside from dealing the cards what role does he play in the game? Secondly, who is my character, and how did I end up in this cabin “at the end of the world”? And lastly, what is the objective? Although, the Dealer does tell the player that they are doing battle with his minions, I kept thinking this would have been the perfect time to put in some narrative and tell the player what they were in for. A little teaser to get things started.

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The overall imagery of the game would be the selling point. I liked the open setting of the card table. In full-screen mode, I felt as though I was actually sitting across from The Dealer. I also thought the decks were well done. Intricate designs on the back, and detailed fantasy art on the face.  The written descriptions of the cards, which appear on-screen and are narrated by The Dealer, give a fairly vivid picture of what was happening to my character during his travels. While the cards gave good descriptions and details about how they affected stats, I would prefer that cards I had collected but could not use be locked out from the deck, until I encountered them.

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Another feature that sets this card game apart from others, is that combat is played out in 3D action sequences that the player controls. Even though the combat elements themselves are simple hack and slash, the graphical content is not. I could tell that a lot of work was put into the design of the areas and enemies.  Earning achievements is also part of the game’s combat structure.

Once the boss battle is completed, the match is over. The cards are reshuffled and a new hand is dealt. Before moving into the next round, the player is given a chance to rebuild their decks, which ups the re-playability potential of the game, since the player can exchange encounter and dungeon cards before each round.

Even though Hand of Fate is currently in beta, I feel it’s worth a play through if you’re a fan of card or role-playing games. From development notes I’ve seen on Hand of Fate’s Steam page, many of the issues with the game are already being worked on by Defiant, and they’re on-track to having a final version available for release by the end of this year.

Pros:

  • The voice-over of the Dealer, graphics, and deck details.
  • Splitting the game between the RPG card elements and Action platforming was something unique
  • Achievements for in-game progression
  • Ease of controls

Cons:

  • Lack of character choices (I would love to see multiple characters to choose from, perhaps with their own storyline for why they ended up at the cabin.)
  • Lack of overall narrative
  • The repetitive nature of the combat scenes.

* Images are from The Hand of Fate’s store page on Steam

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