When Hand Of Fate launched in 2015, it became one of my favorite indie games on Xbox One. It featured combat similar to the Batman: Arkham Series, with a style reminiscent of the Fable franchise, and included Dungeons & Dragons-styled adventures. Despite some technical issues, the games played with the dealer were engaging, unpredictable, and rewarding. No round ever played the same way, and it was an instantly replayable title.
With Hand of Fate 2, Defiant Development has created a sequel that is better than the original game in every single way. The storylines during each game are more fleshed out, the combat has more finesse, every round is just as unpredictable as the original, the stakes feel real, and there are enough new gameplay additions that make the whole package near perfect. There are so many things that this game does right. I consistently found myself amazed by the diversity of the objectives found in each storyline.
One mission had my character trying to escort a man to the woman of his dreams. You need to make sure that he survives each encounter and the boss battle. Throughout the journey, he can get captured (and lose health each step you take to try and rescue him), get hurt in battle, or even fall to the luck (or misfortune) of the draw. To make matters worse, since your character must eat a piece of food to satisfy your hunger with each step he takes, in this mission, the guy you must protect also eats a piece of food. Having to care about two characters made for a tougher journey, but one that was worth taking.
Another journey required the player to rescue characters who were being hunted down by creatures. You had to navigate through the environment while trying to avoid fire, killing creatures, and meeting specific criteria to convince townsfolk to follow you to safety. There’s also a quest later on in the game that starts you off with only 10 health points. In this particular mission, you’re not allowed to restore health via food. The only way to gain more life points is by acquiring cards that reward you with health.
Many gameplay elements in Hand of Fate 2 are based on luck. Cards are randomly placed on the board, so there is no way to know what’s in a specific spot unless you land on a special card that reveals the playing field. Additionally, there are dice games (where you need to roll a certain amount in two rolls. It feels like a smaller version of Yahtzee. Another mini-game is a pendulum event where you have to stop the needle on either a silver (success) or gold (huge success) platform. Lastly, there’s a wheel mini-game, where you have to stop the spinner on the appropriate card. Every successful spin adds another failure, or pain card that will try and kill your character.
While the first game relied solely on the cards, there are enough gameplay varieties in Hand of Fate 2 that constantly switch up the experience. Despite luck playing a huge factor in the game, there are ways for you to “stack the deck” in your favor. Before each quest, the game lets you know what types of things you’ll encounter in the particular journey. This makes it easier to decide what cards to add into the deck. Players are required to make their own deck, so knowing what to expect helps in planning your game. A new gameplay mechanic is the fame system. By helping specific characters, and meeting certain criteria, you’ll earn fame. When the number of fame you receive increases, the ability to use stronger weapons and armor becomes available.
The last big addition in Hand of Fate 2 is the companion system. Unlike the first game, the player doesn’t travel alone. The dealer allows you to bring a friend along for the ride. Each companion has a different weapon, and skill set that can turn the tide in battle. The first ally, Malaclypse, can shield you with a protective bubble that will allow you to take a hit before losing help. The second companion is a hulking brute that can destroy enemies in their tracks. What’s crazy is that because of certain cards, companions can actually die and not be used ever again. I permanently lost a companion I adored, and it felt terrible.
Hand Of Fate 2 is an Xbox One X enhanced video game. You can experience the game with better framerate, or you can play with better resolution. Despite the fact that the game looked wonderful in 4K, I chose better performance because there were instances of stuttering and framerate dips when the resolution was higher. From a technical standpoint, there were the occasional slowdowns, but there weren’t any glitches or severe technical issues. It’s a huge step up from the original game. The audio was engaging, the dealer’s voice was menacing, and the action sounded adventurous.
While the technical issues were better this time around, the enemies often felt predictable. While there were challenging at first, they became easy to take on later in the game. The difficulty came in the form of large enemy numbers, and not their actual maneuvers.
Hand Of Fate 2 is a masterful sequel to an already stellar video game. Not only did Defiant Developments make improvements to the technical issues that the plagued the first game, but the studio also added wonderful mechanics, new experiences, diverse quests, and a companion system that adds more strategy to the overall experience. The dealer is a tricky man, and his game can often feel stressful, but his game is one that everyone should be playing. Hand of Fate 2 is not only a fantastic video game, but it’s also one of the best to be released this year. Whether you’ve played the original or not, do yourself a favor and pick up Hand of Fate 2. It’s an unforgettable experience that will make you never want to stop playing.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89