Following a slight delay for the Xbox One version of Hand of Fate 2 (originally set to launch on November 7th alongside the Xbox One X) the game is now readily available. If you never got the chance of playing the first game, let me be the one to tell you that this is a card game like no other. Developed and published by Defiant Development, the stakes in this game are so high that you play with your very existence, with life and death being the only goals to work toward. Once again you’re greeted by the enigmatic dealer who has a score to settle. It’s been a full century since the last game, but the dealer is back with yet another player to try out his luck. With 22 brand new challenges to test your deck building abilities and your fighting skills, you’re put against new foes ranging from quick and agile thieves, right up to tough trappers and musketeers. I reiterate, this is a card game like no other.
Starting out you’re given a brief story about who you are and what you’ve just let yourself in for. If you are indeed new to this series, you can expect – in a nutshell – a game that houses elements of RPG style combat between the dice and card chance games. You’ll soon learn that there’s quite a bit of reading to be done during each challenge, and once you get into the flow of the game you’ll be trading multiple choice with chance throughout the entirety of play. Cards will be laid out in front of you face-down, and it’s your ultimate goal to get through to the end pile. Each turn will see you stepping onto a card and revealing its contents, which often requires a dice role to determine the outcome of specific circumstances. Card reveals come in a wide portion of flavors, be it story-specific moments, shop encounters, earning health, gold, fame points, blessing cards, and more. Artefacts can either hinder you or aid you – pushing the boundaries of chance further inward. Failing to dice roll will see you thrown into an arena to take on a battle, which ensures that the card game captures your full attention.
These encounters, more specifically the AI, is much more fierce here than what they were in the first game. You can still evade, parry and attack, but be prepared to put up more of a fight to overcome these segments. You can now also bring a companion with you to aid you in battle, with each available companion bringing something different to the proverbial table. Fans of the first game will notice the addition of extra attacks, including the finisher move which is now required to kill certain enemies, and the power move, which you’ll need to string a set amount of attacks together to perform. Combat in particular is both fluid and enjoyable. You’re able to change a few things about your player, from gender, hair, and clothing colour. You can indeed acquire better gear as you collect more cards, too. In any case, the difficulty throughout the game fluctuates constantly. There’s some super easy challenges to take on, as well as other challenges that will have you pulling your hair out in fits of rage. Whatever the case, much of this really depends on how you setup your deck in the deck building screen.
Nothing is ever really certain in Hand of Fate 2, and although you’re able to select cards from your deck prior to each challenge, you never truly know in which order they’ll present themselves. There’s three different choices that you can keep in mind, weapons, cards and companion. You’re allowed to pick a set amount of each but the setup can ultimately be a make or break for each challenge. There’s not much of a story present per se, but you can divulge in some optional stories via new characters, which adds a bit of weight to the overall design. Hand of Fate 2 for the most part is a game of skill and chance, not really departing too much from the core formula found in the first game. That’s obviously good news for fans who enjoyed the predecessor, to say the very least. The visuals haven’t changed much from Hand of Fate, but still manage to be pleasing to the eye and again captures the theme of the game extremely well with the dark tone it sets thanks to the dark and alluring ambience. Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of lag present during cutscenes and loading screens, and although this isn’t enough to pull the game down entirely, it’s still frustrating given how constant it appears to be at the moment.
I really did enjoy Hand of Fate 2 due to how inline it is with the first game. There’s a great deal of extras to dive on and some refinements and updates to the fields of play. It goes without saying that if you enjoyed the predecessor, you’ll certainly enjoy the sequel. That being said it’s far from excellent due the inconsistent difficulty spikes and the awful lag interruptions. With those issues to the side there’s a lot to look forward to. The gameplay remains tense and unpredictable throughout the entirety of play, and the dark alluring atmosphere is equally as potent. This wont blow your socks off, but it will definitely keep you entertained for hours on end.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.