Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hand of Fate

I got swindled into buying Hand of Fate, the deck-building rogue-like action RPG on Steam. Saying I was swindled probably makes it sound like I think the game is terrible, or that I was horribly overcharged for it. I don't really think any of those things.

Actually the game has some great things going for it. It starts off kind of slow and easy and doesn't show you it's potential for a little bit, but once you get into it the difficulty ramps up pretty quickly and the deck-building aspect of it starts to become interesting.

In the game you build a deck of equipment cards and a deck of encounter cards. Depending on which scenario you pick the dealer adds some extra encounter cards to your deck. The encounters are shuffled up and dealt out to form a board that you move your piece around. Each board has an exit that brings you to a new board where you continue through your deck. Eventually you'll get to the end of the game and the board will have a boss on it.

Many encounters are resolved by making choices and drawing randomly between 'Success' or 'Failure' cards, but combats are resolved in isomorphic action where you run around and beat things up with your sword, axe, or mace as appropriate.

In addition to trying to find and kill the boss to win the game, many of the cards have a token. If you go through the encounter in a certain way you get the token. Tokens are how you earn additional cards. Some tokens expand in a logical fashion. Successfully weathering a sandstorm encounter unlocks a new desert encounter. Unlocking the token of the lord who is putting a together an army to fight ratmen allows you to remove the ratmen encounters from your deck.

On the downside the game is a little bit capricious, especially with food. Every step you take on the board costs a food. If you run out of food you start losing health instead. Sometimes the way the cards fall is just going to mean you can't keep up and you run out of food and die. I tried to put more cards that will give me food in my deck, but I only have so many.

I also find the transitions between scenes and the time it takes to move cards around to be a little slow for my liking. Finally, the combat isn't exactly inspiring - mostly a lot of dive-rolling around the field and waiting until you can get a couple of hits in - but it's better than Diablo 3.

What I'm really worried about is that I'll basically be able to beat the game and unlock everything in about 15-20 hours of play. That wouldn't be so egregious, but compared to Isaac it's not a very good investment. Of course if you want to count cost per hour of gameplay you are going to have a hard time competing with Isaac, so that's not really fair.

Hand of Fate seems neat, but I'd probably avoid the hook and watch a youtube video before buying it. I might still have bought it. I don't know.

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