Hand of Fate Review: A Different Type Of Board Game

Given that there is a huge Steam sale currently underway, I’ve decided to finally cave in and buy the game that was at the top of my wishlist for a while, and that is Hand of Fate. Although its price may seem pretty steep for an indie game, after wasting pretty much all my free time on the game, I can say it is worth it.

Hand of Fate is an amazing beat ’em up game developed and published by indie company Defiant Entertainment, which is based in Australia. The game was successfully backed on Kickstarter, being one of the first Australian projects on the platform.

The game is based around the mix of a card/board game with a combat system similar to the Batman Arkham series, and it completely nails the formula on the head. Upon starting the game, you are greeted by a mysterious character looking like a ninja, which will be your companion and card dealer for the entire game. He challenges you to a game of cards, and of course you agree.

Each game has two or more floors of a “dungeon”, each floor featuring cards placed face-down. Among one of the cards there is an exit to the next floor, or the final boss. Your figure can only travel vertically or horizontally, so you will have to move it on the face-down cards in order to reach the exit. However, upon each move on a face-down card, you reveal it, and have to deal with its content. The player has three resources: gold (which can be used to buy items, heals or food), food (which is consumed upon each move, granting the player heals while the counter is positive and slowly killing him while the counter is at 0) and health (which can be influenced by many sources throughout the game, and which ends the game upon reaching 0).

There are many types of cards: the face-down cards are either encounter cards, which means you’ll have to fight monsters equal to the monster card(s) drawn, or situational cards, which are similar to text-based choose-your-own-adventure games, which often lead to you having to guess the right face-down card. Monster cards are similar to poker cards, but instead of hearts and diamonds, you get the number and type (bandits, skulls, ratmen, lizardmen) of monsters you will have to fight. The other types of cards are equipment cards (weapons, shields and armor that give you the edge in the combat minigame), blessing/curse cards (buffs/debuffs which last until removed by a priest/situational card), and gain cards (gold/food/health).

At the end of each dungeon in the story mode lies a boss, which resembles the royalty of the suite. Each boss summons additional monsters of that suite and powerful attacks. Additionally, queens also summon a turret/totem with special abilities and kings can cast spells upon you and heals upon their monsters. The story contains 12 bosses, and for every 3 beaten, you get an item from the dealer, which increases the difficulty of future games and gives you permanent upgrades. Before each game, you can customize your deck with equipment and situational/encounter cards.

Most cards also feature a token, which you can earn by successfully completing the situation presented to you or the encounter. Tokens unlock more cards for future matches.

If all that content isn’t enough, you can also buy the additional downloadable content, called Wildcards, which unlocks additional “fates” for the game. You can choose one fate per game, which completely changes the game’s play style. The base game comes with 3 free fates, which are basically different difficulties (Apprentice, Adventurer and Warlord, representing Easy, Default and Hard). The DLC unlocks 9 fates, such as the Monk, which cannot earn any gold, but is rewarded for slaying the undead. If the DLC is worth it is ultimately up to you: if you enjoy the game, you will also enjoy the DLC. If you don’t feel like shelling out more money for the DLC, don’t worry: the developers are still updating it with new content.

Hand of Fate is available digitally on Steam for Windows, OS X and Linux, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions also available on their respective stores.