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Hand of Fate 2 Review: A Stacked Deck

The Dealer returns with a captivating new set of adventures.

Defiant Development’s Hand of Fate was a surprise success when it arrived in 2015. The roguelike, deck building, third person action hybrid was a beautiful hodgepodge of pure creativity. Now, with Hand of Fate 2, the formula has been bettered, the game has expanded, and the replayability has skyrocketed. Nearly every shortcoming from the original has been dealt with or removed, and the sequel is nothing short of a magical journey filled with wonder.

With new enemies, new cards, new mini-games, and a deeper experience, Hand of Fate 2 perfectly expands upon an already solid base to create a truly fantastic game worth playing over and over. With 22 missions, and a load of side objectives, you’ll never struggle to find something to enjoy during your time with The Dealer.

In terms of gameplay, not much has changed. You’ll plot your course through the field of cards laid out by The Dealer. In Hand of Fate 2, you have the regular array of health, food, encounter, equipment, and money cards as well as a vast amount of newcomers. A new Fame system allows you to gather recognition for completing encounters, rescuing people, and other heroic actions. Your Fame level will allow you to use certain special weapons. Companion cards, of which there are four, allow you to bring a buddy into your journeys. Each Companion has unique skills, like Malaclypse, who can give a shield to tank one hit without damage. Before beginning a mission, you’ll also get a breakdown of what to expect, allowing you to better prepare. Just in the cards alone, Hand of Fate 2 makes changes for the better.

For anyone familiar with the original game, Hand of Fate 2 improves one major aspect: missions. There are far more objectives, not just the usual ‘find and kill this person’; they’re more challenging, diverse, and fun. Along with that, side missions found through certain encounter cards, if completed, will show up in later missions as well. This is a fantastic addition, and allows for multiple narratives to intertwine and create a rich, immersive gaming experience. Continuing those miniature journeys amidst your true adventure is a fulfilling experience, and the writing never falters either way. With submissions within most main missions as well, the game is far more dense than the original .The charm, creativity, and sheer wonder this game oozes is overwhelming. By constantly keeping you busy and exploring, there is always a choice to be made.

New mechanics outside of the cards and fighting help ease the sense of repetition. Dice rolls, a timed pendulum reaction test, and a spinning wheel of cards add much needed depth to the mini game system. One of the wonderful aspects about Hand of Fate was how it begged you to gamble and push the limits. There is no shortage of that in Hand of Fate 2, as each of these new mini games will test your patience, timing, and guts. In part, these aspects show the real beauty of the game: a practice in determination that is equal parts skill and luck. With every card flipped, every enemy felled, and every button pressed, you’ll realise that Hand of Fate 2 stacks so much good into an easy to learn concept. The joy of playing the game is how it evolves in front of your eyes.

Hand of Fate 2 is definitely replayable, but not infinitely. Despite its random games, the cards have a limit and so do the missions. On top of that, although the overhauled combat system is far superior to the original, the enemies are stale and only bosses really change the game. The parry and riposte system is sharper, weapons have certain benefits against specific enemy types, and the warning/dodging mechanic is much, much easier to use. The combat and somewhat repetitive nature of long term gameplay together create the bad points of an otherwise spectacular experience. The flaws of Hand of Fate 2 are so small and easy to look past, which is great news – it’s way easier to just sit and talk about how utterly beautiful the world Defiant Development created here.

By noticing what needed fixing, expanding where necessary and heeding its roots, Hand of Fate 2 stands out in all the right ways. Excellent writing, superb world building, and pools of creativity make this a game worth every second of playtime. Much like the original, it sharply connects genres that try to separate themselves and breeds a hybrid full of awe and wonder. If you’re on the fence about this one, rest assured it is worth diving into. Past fans and newcomers alike will have plenty to enjoy and stories to share. A truly immersive, inspired leap into a world full of life. Hand of Fate 2 is a defiantly different powerhouse fuelled by pure imagination. Speak to The Dealer, he has a story to tell, and he needs your help writing it.

Hand of Fate 2 is available on PC and PS4. We reviewed the PS4 version.

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