Chris’s Top 10 Videogames of 2015: #6
Hand of Fate
Developer: Defiant Development
Publisher: Defiant Development
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Fighting Fantasy books from Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone are some of my favourite childhood memories. I would go so far as to say that these books helped me learn to read and seemed a bit more interesting than your conventional books. The choose your own adventure style really struck a chord with me and I still own the collection to this day.
Hand of Fate follows a similar structure to the books I loved growing up, which is why I like it so much. At its core Hand of Fate is a collectable card game. You choose the cards that will be used in the game, or if like me you don’t want to get too bogged down in this aspect of the game you can let it do it for you.
When you have picked your cards you face the mysterious dealer who narrates the game as you go along. One of the biggest highlights of the game is the dealer himself. I’ve played a lot of Hand of Fate and I can honestly say that his dialogue is some of the most natural and organic I have ever heard in a video game. You often forget that you are playing a card game against the computer and are actually listening to a real person. Such is the skill of the makers of the game in bringing this character to life, he rarely repeats dialogue and actively taunts you when you make mistakes or turn over certain cards.
As you turn over cards the quest is unveiled, for example, one card might ask if you want to climb down a cliff face to reach a new weapon. The turn of a card will determine your fate whether you succeed or fail. Each turn costs you a piece of food so you are constantly keeping an eye on where to move. You also have health and gold to buy items which is used if you turn over a shop or merchant card.
If this were the only gameplay element I would be very happy but then comes the combat aspect of the game. As you will inevitably turn over enemy cards the game switches from a table top view to you actually taking control of your character. You have attacking options and can also block and parry. The combat is very reminiscent of Fable or even the recent Batman games. This in itself could be a game in its own right and it is handled with amazing confidence. Creating a game with one genre is hard enough but to nail a card/adventure game and 3D combat is astonishing.
Considering Hand of Fate isn’t a big budget AAA game the production values are staggeringly good. The graphics, sound, tone and atmosphere are spot on and again, massive credit has to go to the developers.
Hand of Fate is an incredibly good game. It captures the essence of choose your own adventure books, deck building card games and 3D fighting. It is without doubt one of my favourite games of the year.
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and The Same Coin)