By Josh Speer / August 30th, 2014
Before I get into things, let me get something off my chest. When I initially heard about the surge of talented Australian game developers, I wasn’t excited. I figured they would just make games like any other region, perhaps better or worse. I could not have been more wrong, as established by PAX Prime 2014 in general, and Hand of Fate specifically.
The basic premise of the game revolves around using tarot cards to battle an opposing sorcerer. But the game isn’t just played on the card table. When you use your cards, they manifest in beautiful three dimensional plains, and you physically take charge. For example, if the dealer draws an Ambush, your chosen character will have to fight them off. They don’t do it automatically, and require you to maneuver them with skill. It almost plays like God of War, albeit with less swearing and bloodshed. But battle is by no means a mild experience. You can roll, dodge, counter and wage war with ferocity. It was a fun component of the game, and contrasted nicely from the skill and luck based element in building your deck.
The other main component involves playing a game of wits against the dealer. Your primary goal is to get to and conquer several boss foes, selected as cards by the dealer, and this is complicated by the fact that you can pick positive or negative blessings. These are random, and inflicted upon you after you select a card. This kept the game fresh and intense, as picking the wrong card, while not sealing your fate indelibly, would certainly make it more difficult.
The game is currently very polished, especially considering it’s in early access on Steam. Eventually, it is also slated to release for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which is unsurprising given the graphical flourishes. I came away from my time with Hand of Fate very satisfied. It was unique, intuitive and challenging fun. I do think the Steam version might prove more challenging, given the lack of a controller, but I’m sure this could be remedied with practice, or by purchasing an Xbox controller. So if you like RPGs, Roguelikes or just novel premises, give Hand of Fate a shot. It is well worth your time.
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