Hands-on Preview of Hand of Fate
One of the more intriguing titles shown at PAX Prime was Hand of Fate from Defiant Dev, thanks to its unique spin on the card deck game genre. Rather than purely playing out in a 2D setting with cards determining the outcomes of battles, Hand of Fate transitions into a 3D action-adventure RPG that allows you to hack your way to success using a loadout that is pre-determined based on the cards in your deck. Armor rating, weapons, skills and buffs can be gained by drawing from a deck of cards dealt by a mystical dealer in between the action rounds. The cards dictate the items you have at your disposal, the type of enemies you will face, as well allowing you to go to the game’s store to buy additional upgrades or items. This mechanic keeps every round interesting, and nothing is ever a sure thing thanks to the random card draws.
In talking with the Defiant Dev team they explained that Hand of Fate is a roguelike with strong progression that doesn’t implement permadeath per se, thanks to the fact that you get to keep your card deck if you happen to die. Cards are earned in between the action rounds that take you to various environments to do battle with your randomly assigned loadout. The card draws take place between you and the dealer, with a pawn piece marking which card you are currently examining. Using the piece you must decide which direction to step through the drawn cards, so you have a bit of choice about which cards to tackle, giving Hand of Fate a choose your own adventure feel too. There are cards that will penalize you when you land on them by taking away some of your stats or money, while others will give you new gear, or send you off to do battle against the game’s various AI enemies.
When you land on a card that sends you off to battle you’re transported to one of the game’s one hundred different environments to take on groups of baddies looking to snuff you out. This mode utilizes a third person perspective and plays very similarly to a game like Assassin’s Creed, or a Batman Arkham title, thanks to the fluid combat and parry mechanics. The action segments definitely break up the slower more thoughtful pace of the card deals, but they aren’t just mindless button mashing exercises either. You must attack when there’s an opening, and parry when an enemy lunges at you or you will be quickly overcome by the horde. There’s definitely more strategy and skill involved in Hand of Fate’s action moments, and based on the card draw, you could be facing an uphill battle if you picked a few cards that dampened your stats.
The action-adventure mode also features boss battles, with twelve of them scattered throughout the game’s various dungeons. In addition to the traditional action mode there is also an Endless Mode planned to give players a chance to rack up high scores and seek fame atop the leaderboards. For those looking for a bit of a story in Hand of Fate the devs confirmed that there will be an overarching tale that you will play through, so as previously mentioned this game is definitely more than meets the eye for a card deck title.
Hand of Fate is currently in Early Access on Steam, and it is planned for the PC, Mac, and Linux platforms. Defiant Dev is shooting for a 2014 release for the finished build, but no official date has been set in stone. This is definitely a game worth checking out thanks to its unique blend of various video game genres into one coherent package that is both fun to play and strategize over. It offers solid visuals, tight and strategic gameplay, and plenty of content, so if you want to give it a test drive before its official release you can do so via Steam’s Early Access. There’s also a trailer for Hand of Fate after the break to check out.
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