Hand of Fate is a really cool game. It mixes card based strategy with a full fledged 3D combat/arena battle game, and it does it very well. Made by Defiant Development, also known for Heroes Call on iOS, this game really shows how far you can merge game types to make a really fun and immersive game.
The game starts with your introduction to a card dealer, who provides the perfect bit of ominous-ness (that’s probably not a word but you know what I mean) to his voice with the added mystery of what kind of power he might hold. He deals the cards that make the game what it ultimately is; a game of life and death. Each hand you play you’re dealt a set of cards that is the “dungeon” your character must navigate through to get to the final boss. There is a set of health cards, as well as equipment cards, ranging from armor to power ups and weapons. While you can only equip one of the equipment cards per type at once (i.e., one weapon, one armor, one power up) the range of cards is actually fairly expansive which helps add variety to the game as you play.
Each “deck” you play has a final boss at the end but the path isn’t always easy. Some cards give you text based questions like “You see a weapon up in the ridge. Do you attempt to get it?” which then produces four cards, a mix of Success, Great Success, Failure, Great Failure. The cards get all mismatched and you’ve got to choose correctly in order to obtain said item. There are a few different varieties of these types of cards, and the rewards range from weapons and equipment to additional supplies. It should be mentioned that each card you travel to costs 1 food. Run out of food and it’ll start to deduct health. In the same note though, each food you consume to travel through the deck will replenish any lost health encountered along the way.
Aside from the text based portions of the game, the 3d combat parts are fantastic. Much like how some cards prompt text based options, some cards throw you into battle, and the animations from card to 3d as you equip your gear is awesome. Really. You wouldn’t expect such smooth response and crisp action from an indie game that mixes card strategy with 3d arena battles, but it works incredibly well. The character movement is smooth, combat is precise and you can even parry attacks and dodge and roll without issues. Even with multiple enemies on screen and interactive backgrounds, the game never misses a beat. It is worth mentioning that the only time I ever experienced frame rate issues was in the non-game portion where the dealer actually shuffles the card deck. It rivals some open world games with how well you can parry, dodge/roll, run in to attack, and then repeat over and over again. It just plain works. I always hope that my decks have more battles than text-based interactions, but it does help make each game dynamic and unique because the deck changes each time you play.
Of the dozen or so bosses, each time you play you’ll start unlocking new cards to put into your deck. You can opt to customize the deck as you see fit, or go for the randomizer. Personally I only ever used the randomizer to keep the game unique each time I played through. The same applies for your equipment deck, but you can also visit several shops during your encounter deck and buy/sell new armor, equipment, or purchase additional food for your journey.
All in all, I could keep talking about how impressed I am with the game. I could talk about how challenging some of the later bosses are and how sometimes it’s best NOT to go for that weapon up in the ridge for fear of a great failure card. There are even some special items and collectibles that I left out for your own discovery. I highly recommend the game if it at all peaks your interests. It mixes strategy, arena battles, and a diverse card game all into one. The art is fantastic, the character models are cool, and it’s simply a fun game to play, even one deck at a time. The game is $19.99 on the PSN Store currently, and it’s well worth it.
Hand of Fate Developer Website (Defiant Development)
-Written by Andrew (@SoAfterISaid)