So, what is Hand of Fate all about? It’s basically a card game with a twist. With no real explanation you’re simply plopped in front of a magical man dealing cards at you. Your goal is to beat him in a host of matches with an equally mystical game. Each card confers a story, and these story segments alter what happens in your “journey.” For example, one card is of a maiden who offers you goods like gold and food. Other cards give you the choice to act recklessly or run, while others are dangerous traps. At some times, whether an event goes well or poorly depends on your luck at selecting the right card after multiple are shuffled.
It might sound like a lot of systems in play, but the mechanics are introduced well enough that you quickly get a feel for what’s going on. It’s not all about watching cards float across the table, though. There are also actual action RPG-styled segments. These instances crop up from time to time, sometimes as boss battles, and give you a warrior to control. If you managed to collect or buy weapons, armor, and the like beforehand then they’ll be equipped for the fight. Battles feel fairly similar to the Batman Arkham series, although certainly not as well-realized. Regardless, fights are enjoyable distractions from Hand of Fate’s ‘expected’ tabletop presentation.
As you play and win more cards are added to your collection. From there, players can modify decks as they see fit – or allow the game to create a recommended deck. Digital deck management has never been my thing, so I’m glad to report the recommendation option works quite well. While exploring players must keep track of character health, hunger, and hopefully snag some gold through travelling. It’s a bit annoying to need to manage food (food is lost each turn, or via random events) but at least there are many opportunities to gain a sudden burst of supplies.
Hand of Fate looks stunning on mid to high range PCs (as well as whatever console you play it on). Cards have beautifully striking art, and your counterpart across the table is mysteriously charming himself. With that said, gameplay really can start to grate on you if you play for too long of a session. There’s only so many tricks it has to pull from and they start to feel stale after a while. My suggestion is to play one match then put the game down for a bit before returning. With that habit it’s definitely easier to stay wrapped in Hand of Fate’s spell.