Card games, for many years, it’s been one genre I’ve not quite got the hang of, it took me months to actually appreciate Uno on the Xbox 360, and now I’m face to face with a new a sequel to a game I missed first time round, but will Hand of Fate 2 change my opinion of the card based video game genre…
Well in short, yes.. right now, I’m eating my words and I’ve never been so happy to do so…
Hand of Fate 2 is a pretty bizarre card game, the mystical dealer has returned and is about to take you onto a new adventure about life, death and your own fate…
When you first sit down with Hand of Fate 2, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little underwhelmed, graphically it will catch your eye, especially on the Xbox One X (more on that later) but sitting down at a table, while a guy covering his face starts to talk about fate doesnt really grab your attention like a gore-filled set-piece.
But after a brief introduction, you’ll take control of your own destiny and start to play the hands laid out in front of you, sure there’s cards, and your little counter will move across the table like many board games, but Hand of Fate 2 does things slightly differently, and when you realise there’s Assassins creed style combat (before Ubisoft ruined it), dynamic decision making and mini-games things start to get much more intriguing.
Back when I was a child, I didn’t enjoy reading like many, I could read fine but always struggled to immerse myself in a book, but one area I always enjoyed (and would search through the local library for them) where the ‘Choose your own story’ books, Where the page would end with something such as *To enter the forest go to page 46..*
Throughout your journey on Hand of Fate 2, you’re given these very simply decisions, and the game plays out accordingly, make the right choice and you might find a new weapon, but a wrong turn could leave you face to face with an ambush and a dozen assailants.
Slowly but surely I worked my way through this first half an hour, dice-rolling mini-games mixed with enemy battling combat scenes all moulded together with the underlying story of the game of fate.
Initially I was a little concerned as I finished that first segment, but upon finding the actual game is 22 missions, and freedom to choose your direction not only with which mission you battle next, but how you wish to equip yourself for the journey grabbed my attention and refused to let go.
Any initial concern about longevity was soon answered after a few hours, barely scratching the surface of the board game style map, and making choices on the companion I’d drag through the forest with me, or which side quests and games of chance I’d like to include in the next part of my adventure didn’t just keep it feeling fun and interesting, but the interactivity and dynamic progression leaves me feeling like repeated play-throughs really wouldn’t be that bad.
The main menu also teases an Endless mode coming soon, which I can imagine will eat away at those winter nights ahead.
In a similar vein, early worries about the simplistic fighting system also left egg on my face, as you’ll soon start meeting various enemies at once, mixing between dodging, blocking and breaking an enemy as well as attacking or remembering to actually finish them off.
Time and time again, I was left feeling Hand of Fate 2 was fairly simple (making it a pleasure to get to grips with) but each time the hidden depth kept me coming back for more.
Aesthetically, there’s certainly some high points, and Xbox One X owners can enjoy native 4K graphics (unlike PS4 Pro gamers).
You can also choose to prefer frame rate over resolution which will bring the resolution down to PS4 Pro’s 1620p, or you can unlock the frame rate to get a mix between the two, there’s a major dip in the frame-rate for a second or two when loading between sections, but this seems present regardless of which settings you choose, so I found resolution preferred with locked frame rate seemed to run and look the best.
Overall though, there’s some elements that could look better, especially scenery of the third person battle sequences, but it’s fair to say Hand of Fate is much more than graphics, and one fine example is the sound, a melodic soundtrack plays along to keep your ears occupied but it never feels overwhelming, there’s loads of well voiced dialogue by the dealer who will talk you through everything from a the local store to the ambush at the forest and it’s the level of detail which really helps to immerse you in the world of Hand of Fate 2.
Many people will criticise interactive stories, or card games as being ‘not a real game’ but Hand of Fate 2 combines these perfectly, mixed with some sharp and mostly impressive visuals, eerie and mysterious audio and enough content to keep you coming back for more time and time again, it’s perfectly presented as a game which you and your luck are in full control of.
You might have 3 battles in 10 minutes questioning repetition, but you’ll suddenly be meeting new people, finding equipment or protecting your comrade which keeps every twist and turn interesting and involving.
Hand of Fate 2 is a board game, card game hybrid and it’s done in a fantastic way that no amount of plastic of playing cards could ever replicate.