XB1 Games with Gold Review: Hand of Fate
After last month’s offerings I was surprised to see a card game being made available on the Xbox One Games with Gold program, but this is not a bad thing, especially as it’s a card game with a difference!
Having never experienced the title when it first came out it took me a while to get my head around the game to be honest, especially as you are literally thrown into the deep end with only the mysterious card dealer teaching you the basics. But in a nutshell Hand of Fate is a hybrid action-RPG/deck builder; in that you are dealt a series of cards on a dungeon floor and you need to pass over the latter in order to get to your quest objective, which usually involves taking out an end of level bad guy/girl/thing!
Each card that you come across can offer various challenges in a Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone book kind of way (minus the dice). For example with one card you are offered the chance to head to the bottom of a cliff where you will find an unknown weapon. If you decide to go for it you are then dealt several cards with 'Success' and 'Failure' written on them. The cards are then turned over/shifted in front of your eyes and you need to pick - in a game of chance - the 'Success' card.
If you get 'Success' you win the weapon card which you can equip straight away (if you have another weapon card already it will ask to swap this out) or you can equip it later from your inventory (which can be accessed at all times during the game).
Failure however will usually result in a penalty (lose of health, gold or food) and the penalty/game of chance gets more severe as the game goes on.
As you progress you also get cards with additional Q & A’s choices which can earn you rewards, such as gaining new equipment, receiving more health or gaining some food back; which is key to getting to the end!
Food, Gold and Health
Each time you move to another card this will take one food point away from your total (cards are places to the left side at all times to indicate this) and you will need enough food points to reach the end.
Run out of food and this will take points off your health. However with the gold you earn this can be used when you come across shops. For example from here you can usually buy more food, better weapons and so forth.
What’s cool is that just when you think the game is static in nature, in that you are mainly reading and responding to different scenarios, out pops a monster card(s) which will transport you into a 3D 3rd person combat situation; that you control directly.
This certainly gives the game more of an interesting twist as you can use dodge, block and attack moves to vanquish your foes.
Later on in the game you can also use your left bumper and right bumper buttons to unleash various curses or special attack moves, such as throwing knives and so forth.
You can also gleam rewards for entering certain combat situations or as an added twist, at times chance takes hold as some enemies are supposedly playing dead which means you have to pick a card again to see if you can kill them without taking damage (this again uses the game of chance where the cards are revealed and then shuffled in front of you).
Sadly combat is over pretty quick and it's not that difficult to win, especially as you are prompted when to block and roll away in certain situations. However later on you do get enemies that can throw spears and there are sometimes traps thrown in for good measure which can hamper you. However they can also be used to kill your enemies to, so the devs have tried to mix things up, but sadly as I said just now the combat is usually over in a heartbeat.
Dungeons & Deck Building
During the game you can sometimes stumble upon Dungeon trap cards which transport you into the 3D world once gain to traverse a maze of traps; in real-time. The rewards are a chest at the end which can earn you additional gain cards for food, health and EQ etc.
You can bypass the above but sometimes if you have encountered traps previously in the game i.e. ones that reduce your food or health, then the risk may be worthwhile and this is how the game makes you think.
If you get through the dungeon and vanquish your foes you can earn tokens (the number of tokens depends on how much you explore). These tokens can then earn you new cards and the aim is to use these cards to build your own deck.
Thus when you next take on the dungeon you can use the cards (can contain better weapons or special magical items i.e. amulets, to gain you additional food or health) strategically to help you reach the end of the dungeon or just make the quests more challenging/fun! Additionally within the decks you can add modifiers which will also affect the outcome of each game.
The desk building side of things is required before you can take on each new dungeon scenario - which gets harder and harder. As you get into the later levels the game throws in some curses at the start, so for example you can be slower the more gold you carry.
For those who just want to dive straight into the action so to speak, you don’t have to manually pick your deck, as you can use the auto-fill option which picks what it thinks is the best cards for you.
My only quibble is that when you start to get into the game (with a pre-built deck) you do come across a lot of similar cards and as a result things can get repetitive, as can the combat.
Making it harder
On the flip side eventually after you beat a certain number of adversaries, you can unlock the Endless mode. In here the levels pretty much go on forever and each time the dealer adds harder and harder monsters for you to fight, so there is some re-playability to be had if you stick with it!
Hand of Fate is certainly worth a go if you are in the Games with Gold program as it offers a fun card game with interactive 3D elements thrown in. Sadly things can get repetitive if you come across the same cards over/over again (but at least you can build your own deck and utilise these cards to your own advantage). Combat can also suffer from repetition and its over in a heartbeat, but I found you do need to use your brain matter on the odd occasion to ensure that you get to the end of each dungeon quest.
Coupled with the odd game of chance and the injected Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone style feel that I remember as kid (minus the dice of course) there is definitely some entertainment value to be had if you like card games with something a little different!