A Review in Progress: Hand of Fate 2
4.0Overall Score
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Hand of Fate 2 is, essentially, Dungeons and Dragons for Switch.

Hand of Fate 2 begins with you sitting at a table across from a masked man holding a deck of cards. After a brief opening monologue, the man asks you to choose either a male or a female card. This will be your character. You play as a warrior, with some limited customization options available to your looks (though I found it especially limiting when playing as the female character, with hair styles being limited to mohawk or… more different mohawk). There is a short tutorial in which you learn the nuances of the game and how your choices affect the outcome. Then, you can begin your adventure, all narrated by your friendly neighbourhood quest master, The Dealer.

Your quest master (Dungeon master, if you will), known only as The Dealer, is a deformed magician who keeps his face hidden. He offers colour commentary on your journey and the decisions you make along the way, along with a few amusing anecdotes about his own life. He’s also fond of magically twirling a deck of cards around the air.

The deck of cards is what your adventure is comprised of. On the table between yourself and the Dealer, a random amount of cards will lie face down. Your journey is created through the sequenced flipping of the cards one at a time, in any direction you choose. Each card is a random encounter or challenge of some sort. Some are campaign based, some are seemingly random, and some you can choose from your own deck to insert in the adventure. You’re rewarded with new cards for completing various challenges and at the end of campaigns. So before every new campaign, you have a bit of a choice when it comes to choosing your next adventure.

The campaigns are all text based and each card presents a new situation. The text statement will generally have multiple options to choose from. If, for example, you come across a damsel in distress, you can choose to either save her or ignore her. Why would you ignore her, you ask? Well, it could very well be a well-disguised ambush. And here is where the real flavour of Dungeons and Dragons comes through. In order to have a positive encounter with certain challenge cards, you often will need to roll some dice. The Dealer will present a target, say, you must roll a 14 within 2 dice rolls. Hitting or exceeding that target will mean a better outcome. In other cases, the Dealer will show you 4 cards with different outcomes on them (something like, Failure, Failure, Success, Huge Success). The cards will then be swiftly shuffled and you will need to pick one of the cards. That card will determine the outcome of the challenge.

In some cases, it becomes necessary to pick up the sword and shield and battle with the various enemies each campaign has to offer. When a challenge card choice leads to a fight, you are transported through a vibrant, psychedelic tunnel to a small fighting area. This part of the game operates like your average hack and slash, complete with a mage ally to help shield you from a few attacks. Controls are simple, and some enemies have unique capabilities that cause you to react in a certain way, or you have to use special attacks to weaken them. Once you’ve defeated all enemies, you are generally rewarded with some various goodies, like health, food, weapons, etc. If, however, you are killed during this encounter, you lose the campaign and will have to start all over again.

I guess that’s where I really struggled with the game, that permadeath seems especially vicious when you’ve progressed far in a campaign. And so much of what happens relies on chance and chance alone. The game can quickly spiral into misery if you keep rolling snake eyes or choosing the Huge Failure card. The only place that I see where skill is required is in those fighting segues. There might be an element of choosing the right dialogue option for a particular scenario, but I’d hardly call that skill. At the same time, you could be hitting a lucky streak where you roll 18’s and Huge Successes and feel like the game is the greatest. But I find that the mood change can happen on a dime.

I like this game, though and if you like adventure-RPG-card games narrated by a whimsical wizard, lots of chance, and a bit of hack and slash, then you’ll like this game too.

Hand of Fate 2 is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Steam, and now Nintendo Switch, for €24.99.

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