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Review – Hand Of Fate 2

In 2017, Defiant Development delivered again (try saying that fast) with their Choose-Your-Own Adventure, collectable card game, action combat hybrid Hand Of Fate 2. Eight months after its original release, the Brisbane based game developers are bringing the title to Nintendo Switch.

For those unfamiliar with the original, you play as somewhat of an apprentice to a mysterious card dealer. Your pawn moves along a path of cards, set out much like a dungeon, with your goal to reach the end alive. As the title suggests, your fate lies in the cards you collect along the way as well those dealt by the dealer, which include equipment, encounters and resources. There are also instances where you have to make choices which can make or break the outcome of your adventure, either making it easier or harder for you. Along with fate and choices, luck comes into play in the form of Pick-A-Card instances. Within all of this card-play, you’ll get thrown into action combat encounters, teleporting you from the card filled tabletop to dangerous battlegrounds where you’ll be dodging, blocking and smashing through enemy hoards. Progress shouldn’t always rely on luck and chance though, strategy is also on your side in regards to which direction you might take and the gear and weapons you’ll be equipping. Combat can also be unforgiving, quick wits and fast fingers are needed whilst fighting against the various dangerous enemies.

The sequel has stayed the same as the original in a lot of ways but includes a few additions. The first major addition being character customization, you’re now able to choose between a male or female protagonist. And you can choose their race, hair style/colour, colour of their clothes and the amulet you retrieve in the quest prior to the customization screen. All of these can be changed at any time as well. You also befriend a companion who accompanies you on your adventure, they can also be swapped with other companions you collect along the way. Quests, or Challenges as the dealer calls them, are now set out like an open world map, with more options to choose from if you get stuck on a certain challenge. As you complete challenges, more of the map is revealed, unlocking even more challenges. The Pick-A-Card game isn’t the only luck instance in the sequel, a dice game and quite a challenging swinging pendulum game have been added to mix it up. The battlegrounds in the combat encounters also seem much more vibrant and colourful than those in the original, ranging from forest areas and castle grounds to snow covered cliffsides. New weapon types have been added too with certain weapons pairing well against certain enemies, like the fast dual swords that make taking down thieves a breeze.

Along with its Story Mode, Endless Mode makes a return which you can jump into at any time between quests. This makes for some great pickup and go gaming action on the Nintendo Switch, where your adventure can last for any duration of time, whether it’s 10 minutes or 1 hour. It plays out just like the Story Mode but comes with more of a challenge, including weapon durability and certain optional restrictions with resources, weapon abilities and companions. The further you make it in Endless Mode, the harder the challenge becomes.

I haven’t played HoF2 on other platforms so I can’t compare how they perform on them as opposed to the Nintendo Switch but I found it to run very smooth docked and undocked, a part from some slight frame-rate decrease while loading to and from combat encounters in both. The only problem I found was how it would auto-save from the 2nd last encounter you were in. Whether you had just failed or you successfully completed an entire challenge, you would have to redo the last encounter all over again if you quit out of the game afterwards. HoF2 doesn’t get boring as the constant increase in difficulty, always needing to change strategies and never knowing which card will be dealt next keeps you on your toes. And now that it’s available on the Nintendo Switch, the rogue-like Endless Mode is perfect for a quick (or long) game on those lengthy commutes. It’s good to see the series get the portability it deserved to receive with the first title when plans to port it to the PS Vita were scrapped due to development issues.

Hand Of Fate 2 is available on XBox One, PS4 and Steam now and on Nintendo Switch July 17, 2018.

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