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Craft a deck of weapons, armor, trinkets, and encounters and
play through a variety of role-playing experiences served up by a mysterious
dealer. Don’t be fooled – Hand of Fate 2 is not a collectible card game, but
rather a distinctive take on the core tabletop experience mixed with a
smattering of real-time action battles. The conceit of maneuvering around a
tabletop dungeon crafted by cards is a strong, unique twist on the classic
action/RPG, and this sequel improves upon almost every feature found in the
first game. Low-impact additions like rolling dice or spinning wheels to
determine the outcome of a story are interesting, but Hand of Fate 2 also makes
big changes, like companion characters that join you in battle and offer their
skills and expertise off the battlefield.
Hand of Fate 2 is almost two different games that combine to
form a singular experience. In one, you’re traveling around a dungeon made up
of cards, which could be traps, treasure, tests of character, caves to explore,
and more. The other is combat-centric action sequences, which you stumble upon
based on your board-game excursions.
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Combat is the weakest element in Hand of Fate 2. While it
doesn’t stray into rote button-mashing madness, elements are flighty and
imprecise at times, and the camera often feels like it’s working against you. Weapon
selection and timing defensive abilities add some nuance, but battle is often
boring or laborious. The enemy variety also gets stale around halfway through, so
battles take a backseat to the more fun parts, like cobbling together the
perfect deck and discovering ways to handle encounters on the card map.
The ever-shifting map of cards steals the show. These
travels task you with maneuvering dangerous precipices, participating in a town
fair, rescuing (or abandoning!) those in need, discovering hidden treasure, or negotiating
a longstanding feud. Myriad scenarios and ways to approach them exist, and tackling
the mysteries in different ways gives you incentive to replay areas – or
something else to do if you fail a challenge and need to repeat it several
Making your own choices and facing the consequences during
these often-dire decisions is enjoyable and you feel like you are plotting your
own personal course to victory. Perhaps you missed a die roll in trying to pick
a lock or you decided to get a bit too greedy with a suspicious pile of
treasure; you can make a different choice, pick a different card, or roll
differently your next time through the area, and maybe even score some new
options to include in your deck. Hand of Fate 2’s tabletop dungeon crawling is
immersive and engaging, and I found myself replaying missions just to check out
some of the choices I may have missed. These Dungeons & Dragons-style
encounters combined with the baubles, trinkets, and clinking pieces strewn
about the card-infused table create a cozy RPG atmosphere that’s difficult to
Companion characters are awesome, even if they don’t
fundamentally change the core gameplay. Tap into the barbarian’s strength to
crush some foes on the battlefield or manipulate perks to subtly influence your
experiences during narrative encounters, such as duplicating cards or throwing
an extra die to give you an edge against the odds. With four different
companions to travel with that range from brute melee assistants to spell-flinging
mages, they add plenty of flavor to combat and crawling. You may even find your
story (or theirs) being altered by the choices you make along the way.
Hand of Fate was a hidden gem, a Kickstarter
surprise that showed us that there was a cool way to mix up an action-RPG with
tabletop conventions. The sequel polishes and preens itself into a much more
efficient and entertaining entity, and if you can handle some less-than-stellar
combat, you find yourself immersed in a spectacular world.
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