PSX 2016 – Hand of Fate 2 Preview – Let Fate Decide (PS4)
I loved the first Hand of Fate. It was an amazing mesh of tabletop card games, text-based adventures, and that roguelike flavor starting back at the beginning when you die. We even ran an indie developer spotlight on Defiant shortly after it released. Understandably, I itched for a follow up. I wanted to see what else Defiant had in them, and how they could improve on the formula they had so uniquely crafted. Then it happened. Hand of Fate 2 was announced and the biggest disappointment hit when PS4 was not among the logos present. I held out hope though, and my patience was rewarded. I spotted Defiant on the list of developers at PSX 2016 and knew that a Hand of Fate 2 announcement for Sony’s console was around the corner.
Hand of Fate 2 seems to be an improvement on the first in every way. From deeper storylines that intertwine between rounds, to an expanded set of campaigns to undertake, the dealer is back with a vengeance. The new campaigns have requirements that must be met in order to face the final boss this time around, instead of just being difficult. I faced off against an assassin that was notorious for quick and effective kills so I had to get my max health up over a certain amount before finding his card. Much like the first game, various cards offer both benefits and drawbacks, like increasing that max health I needed so badly, or sending a bunch of skeletons at me.
As with everything else, combat is far improved from the relatively unbalanced and stiff battle mechanics in the first game. In fact, when I got home I played the original Hand of Fate again and pined for the brief moments that I got to play Hand of Fate 2 at PSX. Combat is a smoother affair now, not feeling as tacked on a mechanic as the first game made it seem. It’s a far more exciting prospect now to jump into battle, and playing out the cards on the table seems to have a lot more impact in advantages or disadvantages in battle.
It’s All in the Cards
Much akin to the original though, Hand of Fate 2 does come down to some level of, well, fate. It’s those exciting moments, drawing from four card, knowing that there’s only a 25% chance of success when crossing that river, and a 75% chance that you’ll lose a bunch of health, gold, and maybe even your weapon. It’s the moments that feel like playing D&D with the cards as your dungeon master. Instead of rolling a D20, you’re drawing from cards that are stacked against you, and every moment has palpable tension as you seek to control your fate the best you can. Even the story the cards are telling is being presented from a much more detailed stance. It’s not to say that Hand of Fate’s cards didn’t spin a deep and interesting yarn, but the sequel increases that intrigue.
Hand of Fate 2 appears to be improving and correcting all of the criticisms that the first game received. The graphics have improved, the cards are more detailed, and combat has been tweaked to feel a lot more like it belongs as an integral part of the gameplay, rather than an afterthought to the card game. Now that Hand of Fate 2 is confirmed as coming to the PS4, I’ll be eagerly awaiting sitting down at the table to play the cards again in 2017.