When it came out a while back, Hand of Fate delivered a sweet innovation not normally seen in adventure games – a combination of swift combat and strategic tabletop card action, where you literally had to watch your step before stepping into the next battle. It was a little rough in parts, but Defiant Development still did a stellar job with the formula. And we know that the team was hard at work on improving the formula with the sequel.
So they have. Hand of Fate 2 arrives with a number of improvements, while keeping its original formula intact. Apparently, your rival cardkeeper has returned, vowing vengeance on his loss in the first game, and it’s up to you to play your cards carefully, while partaking in a number of new battles, which revolve around a greatly improved combat system.
Here’s how it works. You begin by sitting across from your adversary, known as The Dealer, and laying out cards that plan out your journey. Some missions are simpler, while others require you to draw your weapon and take on enemies that could be bigger than you.
The cool aspect of Hand of Fate 2 is that your adventure can go in a number of directions, with different campaigns and side missions available. So even if you beat it the first time around, you’ll find a new experience waiting for you with the next hand you’re dealt.
Pacing has been greatly improved in the sequel. Whereas the first game had a slightly above-average combat system, Hand of Fate 2 works with a much smoother flow. Fighting enemies feels much more exciting, and the health system actually has stakes, so you’ll need to be careful with each move you make. Plus, everything feels much more connected here, instead of leaving you with a jarring feeling of just jumping around and wondering if you’ve made progress. Here, you actually feel it.
There’s some stuff you can apply to the game as well, including modifiers and companions that can lend a hand when combat arises. Special abilities are also useful, whether you use a shield for defense, or unleash a special attack that gives you an advantage as you charge enemies. But that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed success, as you’ll have your hands full taking on each challenge and trying to retain enough health to see the adventure to the end.
It’s all a matter of chance, too. Sometimes you’re given a great scenario where you get to stock up and prove your worth; other times, you could be given a situation where things look pretty damn hopeless, like when a pendulum swings above you, forcing you to time a button press to survive. But it’s all fair, and surprisingly balanced, so that you always have a chance to bounce back against The Dealer’s actions. It wouldn’t be a card game to return to if you didn’t get that option.
And I love the combat. As I stated, it’s much smoother than before, with great nuances that let you take on multiple foes at once. Kratos you aren’t, as you’ll find that you need to time your attacks carefully, but it’s a lot more polished than the first game. So if you liked how that worked, you’re going to love this.
Hand of Fate 2 also has a terrific presentation going for it. While there are minor glitches and audio issues that pop up, the game as a whole looks better than the first, with smooth animations, beautiful backdrops and nice details to the cards themselves, some of which have some extra effects. The music is also quite good, and the voiceovers remain a top-notch effort in this game, with The Dealer throwing out as much malice as he can, stopping just short of threatening to kill you. (Maybe?)
Again, Hand of Fate 2 has longevity, too. You’ll have plenty of campaigns to dig into, along with companions to choose from and side quests to earn bonus goods from. In fact, for an indie game, this sequel is surprisingly loaded with replay value. You’ll get more than your money’s worth here.
The original Hand of Fate set a neat new trend for the adventure/strategy genre, combining card playing with combat almost seamlessly. But now Defiant Development has greatly improved upon that with Hand of Fate 2, and even with its risks and tiny blemishes, it’s a venture worth partaking. Take a gamble and see where the cards lay for you.
WWG’s Score: Four out of five.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.