Hand of Fate 2 – Review (Switch)

Hand of Fate 2

The game of life is a dangerous one because losing it means death. You play your cards, you put your skills and wits to the test, but the element of chance and surprise can become deadly. Monsters and fiendish foes are the least of your concerns as you contend with conniving smugglers and devious fiends masquerading as allies.

However, with a good hand at the table and a strong hand on the sword, you will win against the game’s harshest foes, including the ultimate boss, The Dealer. This is Hand of Fate 2 from Australia-based Defiant Development.

Following the success of their first game, Hand of Fate, Defiant Development is back at it again, with a game that is bigger, badder, tougher, and more rewarding than ever before. Whether you are new to Hand of Fate or have vivid memories playing the original game, Hand of Fate 2 is a game that should be in everyone’s library, especially on Nintendo Switch.

Hand of Fate 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Hand of Fate, which was released on PC’s and consoles in 2015. The original game combined elements of card deck-building and real-time third-person combat to create a fascinating synergy of storytelling and action. With various mechanics, clever writing, and tight combat controls, Hand of Fate was critically and commercially acclaimed, which was a milestone for the studio. 

Defiant Studios made Hand of Fate from pooling all available resources following the economic recession of 2008, working tirelessly to create a truly unique video game. The objective of Hand of Fate was to play The Dealer’s game, defeat the targets he has laid out before you, and ultimately, win. Hand of Fate 2 sees players back at it again, set 100 years after the events of the original Hand of Fate. The Dealer has returned with a more formidable game, filled with more dangers, more enemies, and more chances at failure. For those brave enough to play the game, there will be an incredible reward or an abysmal demise.

Hand of Fate 2 combines the innovative mixture of real-time third-person combat, card deck building, and small chance-based minigames that determine success or failure on a given activity. Players will embark on a quest, which will lead to the goal of taking down a particular target or fulfilling the needs of a partner. Each quest ranges drastically, from securing cursed items to rescuing civilians, to defeating a cursed soul that is threatening the land. 

Players can build the card deck or use an auto-fill of recommends. After their selection, The Dealer will use his magic power to shuffle the cards. This makes each quest significantly different with each play through. On the game board, a gold miniature represents the player, and each placement on a card unveils any number of events. Players will make choices regarding the retrieval of weapons negotiating food, or slaying a potential aid. Players must gauge their food supply, which will also affect their health. It is possible to run out of food and die of starvation before finishing your quest.  

There are no checkpoints in Quests. If you die, you have to start the quest again. Hand of Fate 2 is not shy about flipping the balance against your favor. Fortunately, Hand of Fate 2 is a bit easier on the player. If players use their resources wisely, they may access the “campfire” between ards. This is great for eating excess foods and building up health, as well as changing weapons and items before a big fight.

Occasionally, depending on the card, there may be a mini-game that can be played. These games, which are very quick challenges that involve dice rolls, choosing the right card in a shuffle, and a pendulum swing, are small mechanics that give the player an advantage or disadvantage. For example, if a player happens upon a card to recover a weapon in a crypt, it is possible that the crypt is guarded by a half dozen enemies. The card may present one of these mini-games 

In Hand of Fate 2, where player have to choose a correct card after being shuffled and facing down. If you succeed, you’ll get the element of surprise on enemies, where they will be less deadly in combat. If you fail, they will notice your presence and be more prepared to defend themselves.  What you choose is up to you, and in a fantasy world of both men and eldritch creatures, any choice can be either successful or deadly. These cards also contain combat scenarios, where the player will be forced into a battle.

When players choose a battle card, Hand of Fate 2 morphs and transforms, giving the cards flesh and substance. The miniature becomes an animated warrior, the cards that display your weapons and items are attached to your figure. Finally, the cards with foes transform into the very enemies described on the card. After a few moments, the battle begins, where the outcome is a literal take of life an death. 

The real-time action combat for Hand of Fate 2 involves balancing attacks and deciding when to strike. Thanks to a fantastic visual queue system, players can parry attacks, and see what attacks can be parried. A flashing green symbol indicates an opportunity to parry. If time correctly, players can gain the upper hand against tougher foes. A flashing red symbol indicates an indefensible attack. Rolling, striking from behind, and even secondary items are incredibly important. 

New to the combat experience is the use of a companion, who will aid the player in combat. Each companion is different, providing either an offensive or defensive ability for the player. These companions are a great asset to have and they do help balance the playing field, but the challenge is still difficult. 

In Hand of Fate 2, the player will encounter a variety of human and non-human foes, from anthropomorphic rats to plagued humans. Each enemy has its own unique attack patterns and abilities, some of which are deadlier than others. Players can receive an advantage through their weapons, some of which yield magical abilities. However, players must weight the advantages and disadvantages to each weapon. Players in Hand of Fate 2 can wield a variety of weapons from two-handed hammers to one-handed blades. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of each weapon is the key to victory. 

When it boils down to it, Hand of Fate 2 exceeds its predecessor in every way. The combat is more engaging than ever and the cards, as well as their challenges, are quite intense. Each success yields a small “ YES!’ from me, and equally so, each small failure feels like a small slap to the hand. 

The gameplay in Hand of Fate 2 is truly intense, with a constant chance at reward or failure. No matter what happened, even with a crushing defeat, I had a great time, every time. Finally, the small touches of Hand fo Fate 2 go a long way. Being able to choose the look and appearance of your main character is neat. The use of magical items to give you an advantage in combat is fantastic. Finally, the game runs incredibly smoothly on the Nintendo Switch, from docked to undocked mode. I did not notice any problems with graphics or load times, making the Switch version of Hand of Fate 2 nearly identical to the console and PC versions.

Hand of Fate 2 is an absolutely fantastic game. It’s the cohesive flow of gameplay, storytelling, and card mechanics that makes for an arresting gaming experience that will hold onto players and not let go until the player has slain their quarry. On the switch, the same fantastic experience can now be taken with players everywhere, without skipping a beat. Hand of Fate 2 is a must-own game in its own right, but its port to the Nintendo Switch platform is a monumental technical achievement that should be commended.