Children’s Card Games on Pirate Ships

[Disclosure: The review­er paid for this copy of the game, and was not pro­vid­ed one for review. You may pur­chase Hand of Fate for XBox, Playstation, and Steam for $24.99 – Hand of Fate was devel­oped by Defiant Development with art by GladLad]

Hand of Fate is a bat­tle of skill, luck, and wits again­st the Card Dealer. You go through a ran­dom­ized dun­geon craft­ed out of cards (lit­er­al­ly) that the play­er unlocks and bat­tle the var­i­ous denizens hid­ing with­in for the sake of more cards, gold, food and equip­ment. The cards are based upon mem­o­ries from the play­er char­ac­ter, who is unnamed with­in the game and is silent.

The same can­not be said for the deal­er, though, who is a per­cep­tive and reac­tive gen­tle­man. Constantly quip­ping, his voice becomes your only com­pan­ion as you play the card game with­in, fac­ing the dan­gers of your character’s mem­o­ries.

It’s Actually About The Randomness in Game Systems

I can do this, I just don't want to.
I can do this, I just don’t want to.

Juggle ALL the Cards

As the play­er in Hand of Fate, your his­to­ry is unknown. You are left to gath­er clues of his life via mem­o­ries, rep­re­sent­ed by cards in the game. These cards present a num­ber of choic­es and cre­ate some­thing of a Choose your Own Adventure style of game­play. There are sev­er­al decks avail­able, both to you and the deal­er them­selves, with the deal­er being given a deck full of ene­my cards.

The ene­mies you face in your long life of adven­ture fall under one of four suits: Dust, Scales, Skull, and Plague. Each rep­re­sent a speci­fic ene­my type and as the player’s vic­to­ries pile on, adver­saries you face become more dif­fi­cult. New abil­i­ties and new power-ups for the play­er char­ac­ter are earned through defeat­ing the Face cards of each suit and are some­what coun­tered by the min­ions of each suit gain­ing new pow­ers them­selves over time.

The suit of Dust rep­re­sents all the ban­dits the main char­ac­ter has ever faced, and are numer­ous. They tend to come after you one or two at a time. Once you reach the next tier of the card case, they gain the abil­i­ty to throw knives — usu­al­ly at the worst pos­si­ble time.

The suit of Scales rep­re­sents vicious sword and shield bear­ing lizards; bipedal crea­tures that offer the tough­est fights. They are slow mov­ing, hard hit­ting, and deflect reg­u­lar weapon strikes off their shields with ease. The ranged lizard units spew fire­balls — Which can hurt but are able to be repelled like reg­u­lar pro­jec­tiles — who gain the abil­i­ty to coat them­selves in fire.

The suit of Skull rep­re­sents the end­less undead. While they are frag­ile, they are quick to return from the dead and can present a chal­lenge to the unwary. They are quick to move and attack, some­times com­ing in armed with mus­kets. Once the third tier of the card case is reached, they gain the abil­i­ty to come back from the recent­ly dead.

The suit of Plague rep­re­sents a series of giant bipedal rats that are bas­tard­ly lit­tle things. Often they will gang up quite fierce­ly and are the first min­ion units to have unblock­able attacks. They are backed up by units that repeat­ed­ly throw knives one after the oth­er, mak­ing them tricky to deal with. Once they are pow­ered up, the melee rats gain the abil­i­ty to leap.

Leading each of the­se suits are the Face cards: Jacks, Queens, and Kings. Each of the­se cards are boss cards, which upon defeat­ing them, will be added to future ran­dom­ly cre­at­ed dun­geons as mini-boss fights, as their cards are added to the Dealer’s deck. The Jacks are often the first ene­mies one will face after procur­ing a card arti­fact. They are also the most like­ly to be matched up again­st in sub­se­quent playthroughs in the dun­geon. Queens come in sec­ond most often and are vicious, tend­ing to drop in with a tow­er that pro­vides ranged and oth­er means of sup­port. And final­ly the Kings. While not always the tough­est or last you will fight to gain an arti­fact card, they do come in with a small army of min­ions and he will often empow­er them in some man­ner.

Combat for the Discreet Gentleman



Hand of Fate’s com­bat will be famil­iar to action adven­ture vet­er­ans whom have enjoyed games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, though, it’s not near­ly as grim and dark as the epony­mous Dark Knight. As for whether it is best with a game-pad or key­board, this review­er chose to use a game-pad. For those unfa­mil­iar with Batman: Arkham Asylum, the com­bat relies on six but­tons: dodge, block, bash, & attack, with the bumper and shoul­der but­tons reserved for mag­ic cards and item abil­i­ties.

Hand of Fate is a rather swift and bru­tal game, requir­ing one to stay aware of the prompts above an ene­mies head, as well as know­ing when to dodge or press an attack. A built-in com­bo sys­tem rewards you for keep­ing up the momen­tum and and exe­cut­ing per­fect com­bos by incre­men­tal­ly mak­ing you attack faster & hard­er (At least it seemed to be when land­ing com­bos into the high 30s). Numerous pieces of equip­ment are found with­in the card gen­er­at­ed dun­geon and often makes the com­bat go far more quick­ly. This is a good thing to me, as the encoun­ters become more and more dif­fi­cult as the Face cards and reg­u­lar encoun­ters are beat­en.

Stories Told, But Mostly With-held


This hap­pens quite a bit.

The sto­ry of Hand of Fate is one that is implied through game mechan­ics and nar­ra­tion, as the play­er refus­es to speak (as is so very com­mon in games). However, the Dealer often pro­vides edu­cat­ed guess­es about what the life of your adven­tur­er was before he took to play­ing the game. The cards in each deck change with new adven­tur­er. From the­se cards, one may deduce what the life of the card play­er was like — as an exam­ple. In essence, his past sto­ry ends up tak­ing shape from the present actions you make for him as you play Hand of Fate.

But just as Hand of Fate holds back from telling in total the sto­ry of the main char­ac­ter, it offers few sto­ries of the Dealer as well. What wisps of sto­ries he will tell of him­self are few and far between, tan­ta­liz­ing details are held back by a man that has seen more than any oth­er Dealer has. While hold­ing back info of him­self, he is very ver­bose and will­ing to talk about the nature of his deck, and how it relates to the very con­cept of gam­ing itself.

Game-play & Art


Randomized Dungeons for the Non-Discrete Gentleman

The way the game plays out is you play through a pro­ce­du­ral­ly gen­er­at­ed dun­geon, using the ran­dom­ized encoun­ter deck to draw cards from that in turn rep­re­sent the main character’s mem­o­ries. In this fash­ion, it becomes some­thing of a rogue-like adven­ture. Before set­ting out into each dun­geon you set up both your equip­ment deck and the encoun­ter deck. When drawn on dur­ing game-play, each encoun­ter card has options for the play­er to choose from, (more often than not just a bina­ry choice) which cre­ates some­thing of a Choose Your Own Adventure style dun­geon. The sto­ries of each dun­geon change com­plete­ly depend­ing on the cards drawn. With each boss you seek to defeat, the deal­er adds in his own cards, throw­ing in many curs­es, mon­sters, and encoun­ters in order to make your play-through more dif­fi­cult.  However, the game does not pun­ish the play­er for dying. In order to get meta rewards — in the form of tokens which are exchanged for more cards — one must either fin­ish the cur­rent dun­geon or die.

There is sec­ond mode in the game as well called end­less mode. This offers a more pure rogue-like, in that the dun­geoneer­ing only ends when your char­ac­ter has died. This is often the eas­ier route for get­ting more cards and tokens, as it uses all the cards unlocked as opposed to need­ing a cho­sen deck the Dealer.

The art on dis­play actu­al­ly rather impres­sive, with each card fea­tur­ing its own art­work. Considering that there are hun­dreds of cards (this review­er esti­mates rough­ly two hun­dred) this is by no means a small feat. There is plen­ty of detail across the many mon­strous crea­tures you are expect­ed to face. While the game fea­tures numer­ous stan­dard fan­ta­sy mon­sters to face, there is enough vari­a­tion to make the play­er feel immersed in the rich atmos­phere of the game.

Graphics, Sound, & Technical Bits


This is the sort of thing Total Biscuit fuss­es about.

Hand of Fate‘s graph­ics are rather mid­dle of the road. Due to it being port­ed across no less than three sys­tems, the set­tings to tweak are rather sparse.  A few advanced options are acces­si­ble in the set­tings and should be enough for all but the most grog­nard of pow­er users. It plays smooth­ly, with no skip­ping on my sys­tem (that includes a Nvidia GTX 750) and the ani­ma­tions remain­ing crisp for the most part. There is one gripe in those ani­ma­tions, how­ev­er, in that they seem a touch… off. They are miss­ing frames, and when com­bat gets espe­cial­ly busy, this issue becomes more appar­ent. This oth­er­wise trou­bling issue is over­shad­owed by the pos­i­tives of the game in my view, though.

The sound­track does away with mod­ern instru­ments, opt­ing for the medieval styled drum, cel­lo and lute. These sim­ple instru­ments cre­ate a sur­pris­ing­ly rich and lush atmos­phere that match­es the rest of Hand of Fate’s tone well. It rarely becomes repet­i­tive, with the table­top music rely­ing more on the lute. The drums and cel­lo are more rel­e­gat­ed to mark com­bat.

As for the the oth­er sound design aspects, there is very lit­tle in the way of voic­es from the min­ions you fight. The play­er char­ac­ter mere­ly grunts in pain and hit and you will hear shrieks of rage where appro­pri­ate. Monstrous roars of large crea­tures and con­temp­tu­ous, often shrill, cries fill out the dearth of inter­ac­tion from many of the char­ac­ters with­in the game. All but one.

The dealer’s voice car­ries the sto­ry along and has a rich, expe­ri­enced qual­i­ty to it. It’s dif­fi­cult to describe just how well-chosen the voice actor was with­out sound­ing pre­ten­tious or even pompous. But his is a won­der­ful choice, full of expe­ri­ence and char­ac­ter. It is a won­der­ful thing to lis­ten to, and I look for­ward to hear­ing more clips of him as I unlock yet more cards in the game. Indeed, many of the cards have him mak­ing com­ments aloud. With each card, he reveals more of the back­ground to each of them, remind­ing him­self to bal­ance some card lat­er, or remark­ing that he made one thing far too pow­er­ful.

Final Thoughts

As a rogue-like ver­sion of Batman: Arkham Asylum with RPG ele­ments the game real­ly is more than the sum of its parts. Each sec­tion of the game is unique, bear­ing the marks of its indie roots and yet indig­nant­ly ris­ing to the lev­el of gam­ing artistry, lur­ing in the play­er with intrigu­ing game-play and infinite re-playability. I am glad to have fin­ished it, and am proud to say I have added it to my Steam favorites as well.


This is How it is DONE

Buy this Game at Full Price if: You enjoy well done, mod­er­ate­ly dif­fi­cult brawlers and enjoy a good rogue-like here and there.

Buy this Game at a Discount if: You aren’t inter­est­ed in mul­ti­ple playthroughs after fin­ish­ing the game to dis­cov­er new card plot-lines and his­to­ries.

Buy this Game at a Steep Discount if: You weren’t at all inter­est­ed in Batman: Arkham Asylum, nor can han­dle being set-back by death.


https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/handoffate-1024x576.pnghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/handoffate-150x150.pngMichael CampbellPCPC ReviewsHand of Fate,PC,ReviewsChildren’s Card Games on Pirate ShipsHand of Fate is a bat­tle of skill, luck, and wits again­st the Card Dealer. You go through a ran­dom­ized dun­geon craft­ed out of cards (lit­er­al­ly) that the play­er unlocks and bat­tle the var­i­ous denizens hid­ing with­in for the sake of more cards, gold, food and…
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Michael Campbell
My name is Michael Campbell. I am a bud­ding writer, pro­duc­er, and the content-manager for off-site opin­ion pieces. I focus on Early Access Game Reviews, Traditional Games Media (Primarily Pen & Paper Role-playing Games), Steam Games, Origin, and Indie Titles. My inter­ests include draw­ing real­ly ter­ri­bly, run­ning far too many RPG games a week and hor­ri­fy­ing my co-workers and friends. I also get real­ly angry on Twitter at injus­tice. I am also like­ly going to become a fix­ture in the edi­to­ri­al sec­tion of this site, due to the above anger. You can reach me at M.Campbell@supernerdland.com if you have ques­tions or com­ments; As well, you can reach me @EvilBobDALMYT on Twitter to see some of that anger in motion.
Michael Campbell

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