After playing the first Hand of Fate game and enjoying it, I made sure that I had the chance to check out the sequel. This time around I’m playing Hand of Fate 2 on the Nintendo Switch which I might have to say is a match made in heaven. The switch complements the game so well and I love being able to play the game on the go or on my lunch break at work. Personally, I feel that the game is better when played in the tablet mode, the resolution works perfectly as I felt it looked stretch on my TV. Never the less, the game is brilliant and has some new mechanics and a changed combat system that really make a huge improvement when comparing it to the first game.
For those that might not know, Hand of Fate 2 is a dungeon crawler that is set in a dark fantasy world. It’s up to the player to progress through a living board where each stage will offer something new simply by the draw of a card. You play against a Dealer who will deliver the narrative and provide you with the different scenarios that you face. Though don’t think for one second that he’ll go easy on you. If you have played the first one, I would say that you don’t want to miss out on this installment. The games main storyline is situated in the Campaign mode that is split into 22 Missions. You are presented with a 3D model of the world and have to select the mission you wish to undertake. Once completed you unlock more cards for your deck and progress through the story. Though be warned if you die you’ll have to restart the missions from scratch, I was a bit annoyed that there wasn’t a checkpoint system but it did add to the intensity of the game. Defiantly when it came to the later missions.
The game is split into three sections, you have the campaign, Endless mode, and the Campfire. The campfire allows you to edit the look of your characters, as cool as this was it did lack in the customization choices. Though it can be accessed at any time so if you fancied a new look or even a sex change during gameplay you can do so. While on the board, if you visit the campfire you can rest up and get health back and also buy food and supplies. Use this wisely when on your adventures.
Endless mode is what it says on the tin, you see how long you can last before dying. You get to pick a companion to come with you that’ll aid you on your journey. I liked this mode as it provided a big challenge and has conditions such as permanent injuries and wear and tear on weapons. This mode is tonnes of fun and I’m forever trying to get a new high score.
The campaign consists of 22 missions like mentioned earlier, you select your encounters, equipment and companion cards at the beginning of the missions and then the Dealer adds his cards into the fray and this is the deck that the adventure unfolds from. When each stage starts the cards are dealt onto the table in different patterns and you progress through the card to complete objectives. I enjoy the wide array of card types and also the different storylines that some cards have, like the storyline cards for your companions it adds to the story and allows you to learn more about them. The real enjoyment is trying to get the cards to work in your favour (which is a lot harder than you think) these can be determined by luck of the dice, random selection of cards that have set outcomes on them, on – screen pendulums and spinning wheels. It’s safe to say that this game is one hell of a gamble and mostly chance. So if you have good luck then you’ll do fine…. If you’re like me you will probably keep dying and having to start missions over and over again, this game would have been a lot nicer if it had some sort of checkpoint system as the last thing you want to do after thirty minutes or more of gameplay is having to start all over again. Like in the previous game you have health, food, and money. Make sure to maintain all three to get the best chance of success, when you run out of food you’ll start taking damage so be very careful and choose your path wisely. The curse and blessing cards are awesome and really spice things up, though try your best to not get loads of curse cards, I was playing one mission and had like 3 on me at once which made combat very tense and dramatic, like a fight scene from The Lord of the Rings or something. You also have the addition of fame which you can get by helping people out on your adventure.
The new combat system is a joy to use, it feels like the old Assassins Creed/ Batman games where an indicator shows above the head of enemies and this gives you time to counter them or dodge them. Then you can use whatever arsenal you have to hack and slash away at the enemies. Simply and fun gameplay that packs a huge punch and is addictive. I sometimes went looking for combat just to enjoy the combat and third-person mode. It’s nice to have finishing moves too, that looks awesome but can sometimes bug out which is funny when finishing mid-air or missing the person your killing but they die anyway.
Like mentioned before, the game looks at its best in the handheld form, don’t get me wrong it looks nice on the TV when docked but it just feels like one of them games that should be played on a small screen and it’s a perfect portable game. Personally, enjoy the third person combat sections of the game as this is where you see the detail that goes into the environments and characters the game has to offer. The soundtrack is perfect as it makes you feel like you’re in a medieval fantasy time period and really helps set the mode for the situation. You do get some dialog but it’s mostly from the dealer and the odd line from each companion. The tabletop element to the game is good too, though it doesn’t really show off the game’s graphics but there are some nice character drawings and detail on each card.
There is a high level of replay value with Hand of Fate 2, whether that be trying to complete each of the 22 missions to unlock the gold rating, completing your companion storyline missions or just playing the Endless mode and seeing how long you can survive. Personally, the game does feel repetitive after a while, it’s best to put it down for a bit then go back to it at a later time so that you don’t feel as though you’re doing the same things over and over. This mainly happens when you just start the game as you don’t have that many cards at your disposal.
Second games can sometimes go downhill or not be as good but this wasn’t the case with Hand of Fate 2. Offering new mechanics like the fame and combat system really added to the experience and made the game more enjoyable to play. The flow between the tabletop view from moving around the selection of card to the third person combat really made the game feel unique as I’m pretty sure no other game does this or if they do it isn’t as good as Hand of Fate. The dungeon crawling element really brings out the inner Dungeons and Dragons in me and allows me to get a similar experience but single player. Trying to maintain all the different elements like health, hunger and money really make you think about how you complete a mission and also makes you feel challenged, I felt like it wasn’t a walk in the park and that each choice I made could be dangerous or have an impacted on the game. Anyone who is a D&D fans or dungeons crawler fanatic would love this game without a doubt and I truly would recommend this game to anyone. I can honestly say that it will have me hooked for ages and it defiantly deserves the score of 8/10.