Music I wrote this review listening to:
Jethro Tull - The best of
I gotta be up front with y’all, I wasn’t really excited going into this game. I didn’t know a lot about it and some of the images I saw didn’t really get me excited for the game. Nowadays there are so many games out there to play that you tend to focus on the big names and smaller titles get thrown to the wayside. When looking at my free time I was susceptible to the allure of other games. When I did finally sit down and download Hand of Fate 2 I was quite surprised at the game I was playing! Grab your dungeon gear, find your 20 sided dice, and let's go on a quest together to understand this game!
I’ve put plenty of hours into this game and I still am not sure what the exact story is. It seems to take place on a carriage (or maybe a train?) and you are a character playing a game against a mysterious opponent. The game appears to be your memories. You are creating the memories of your past together. That is just how the game opens, the real story is the game itself.
The story feels very much like a D&D adventure. As I was playing there were moments that reminded me of my own D&D campaign. You are a hero adventuring through this land ruled by an empire, bandits, northerners, and all sorts of other characters. What is key about the story though is you make choices along the way that affect how things are going to turn out. You come across a bunch of farmers being attacked by bandits, you can help the farmers out OR, ignore the situation entirely.
There is a core story going on about you travelling across the land but I felt like the real story was the moments that were created based on the actions you choose. You really create your own story and I found that to be just delightful
Okay this part is tough. There are so many aspects of gameplay to this game that you could write an entire review JUST on that. The largest mechanic of the game is the card system. Before you go off on your quest, you select a set of cards. These cards will dictate what equipment you find, what instances you’ll run into, and what sort of situations you might find yourself in. You gain cards throughout your journey that you’ll use in future campaigns to really customize your experience. At first I was worried it would be too complex but it is introduced in a way that it feels very natural.
Another part of the gameplay is the combat scenarios. Depending on what choices you make and what cards you choose, you will find yourself battling bandits, soldiers, and the undead! The combat system feels like a combination of Batman Arkham game and Dark Souls. You have your basic combat mechanics of attack, block, bash, and roll. The combat isn’t complex but is definitely challenging. I found myself dying multiple times throughout my adventure but it never felt unfair. I died because of the mistakes I made and this only fueled my fire of going back and doing better the next time.
The only complaint I have is the way they handle death in the game. Basically, if you die, you have to start the campaign over again from the beginning. I get that this is meant to harken back to old school games and maybe I am too used to how things are now but I found myself having to repeat the same situations over and over again because I was terrible at combat.
There's more too! There are so many little mechanics throughout the game that keep it fresh and interesting. I may not enjoy dying but I enjoyed the journey getting back to where I was.
As an audiophile, music in a game is really important to me. It not only sets the mood of the situation but it also indicates the emotions you should feel in a given situation. Now I checked and you can buy the soundtrack through steam but, I don’t know if I really enjoyed the music enough that I’d want to do that. It was fine but didn’t really dazzle me in any way. This may have been because of my audio setup (had to play the audio through my monitor's speakers) and yet, I never really had a moment where I went, “Oh wow this is great!” It just sort of blended in with the rest of the experience. I might go back and try to pay more attention to this later on but for now, I can say that the music was passable if not forgettable.
At $30, you could play a game that is far worse than this. Hell, there are plenty of $60 games that get released and couldn’t hold a candle to this gem (I’m looking at you No Man’s Sky.) It's a combination of so many games but, instead of floundering under its own weight, it manages to hold its head high and create an experience that is fun, interesting, and challenging. I don’t put a rating on my reviews intentionally because I don’t think it's really possible to rate an experience on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10. What I can say is this, if you are tired of those Triple-A games and looking for something that will surprise you, this is definitely a game you should pick up.
Hand of Fate 2 is available on, well pretty much anything! Personally, I played it on the Nintendo Switch but you can find it on PS4, Xbox, or PC.