Take one part deck-building card game, add one part Choose Your Own Adventure novel, and shuffle with a little light action combat — that's the deck composition of Hand of Fate, a unique twist on card-based role-playing now available on Steam and PlayStation 4.
That Defiant Development's 2013 Kickstarter for Hand of Fate barely squeaked past its modest funding goal is no surprise — trying to describe the concept with words instead of a demonstration of the game isn't easy. Luckily I have just such a demonstration available. Pardon my congestion.
For those of you allergic to video, the idea is the player is engaging fate in a life-or-death game of cards. Each hand dealt is a dungeon level, complete with special events, random battles, shops and the like, all depending on how the cards in dealer's deck fall.
There are 16 main enemies to face, each represented by a face and a card suit. Defeat one and new cards are added to both the player and the dealer's decks, adding more danger and reward to each subsequent hand.
Moody and atmospheric, one can almost smell the musky old cards as they spin across the table or feel the heat of the dealer's steely gaze. The illusion of a darkened tent at the edge of the unknown only falters during combat, an odd little action affair in which the player must dodge, parry and counter in order to survive. There's a little Arkham in there — I guess that's appropriate.
Hand of Fate is not an easy game, nor is it a simple one. Managing resources, crafting the perfect deck, mastering combat — there's a lot going on below that card-covered table. It's the sort of hybrid deck-building game that could only exist in two places — imagination and video game space — and it marries the two quite well.
Hand of Fate is now available on Steam and PlayStation 4.