Hand of Fate: Have faith in the hand you are dealt

Life is great when you play your cards right. If you don’t, a horde of lizardmen eat your face off. At least, that’s how things work in Hand of Fate.

In Hand of Fate, you sit across the table from a mysterious hooded figure (imagine a cross between a priest and a vampire) who deals you cards to help you explore your ‘memories’. Many people have played this game, the hooded figure intones, a game that he has spent eons refining.

As the cards are laid out, you move a figurine from one card to the next, overturning the cards as you move. At first, your ‘deck’ is limited and so your memories only extend so far. A maiden appears, offering you equipment, supplies, health or a blessing.

A goblin is found, Mr Lionel, who asks for your help. A ravine must be crossed, and you play a game of chance to determine your success or failure. All the while, the hooded figure narrates each move, offering you ‘tokens’ for the challenges you overcome, which themselves provide more memories to explore.

As you progress further through the deck, enemies start to appear. They might be bandits, encountered as you help two lovers flee a village. They might be skeletons, sent by a vengeful lich. They might be giant rats, a punishment for failing to navigate a cursed circus. (And yes, they might be those lizardmen, ready to eat your face off).

Combat plays differently to the rest of the game. When enemies appear, you are removed from the world of cards and go into battle, using your skill and reflexes to fight. Your hero handles like Batman from the ‘Arkham’ series, pivoting from enemy to enemy, countering them sweetly when the prompt appears.

While combat is unavoidable in Hand of Fate, it is also heavily dependent on the equipment, abilities and health your character discovers on each ‘level’ of the deck. Skill will take you a long way, but a frost blade, helm of deflection, berserker armour or regenerating health makes things so much easier.

Every time you complete a ‘level’ in Hand of Fate, you have earned new cards for your deck and access to the next level.

Each level gets progressively harder, but also tells new stories. With each new level comes new ‘memories’, new adventures and brilliantly-written vignettes to enjoy, along with new equipment, new blessings (and curses), new encounters that might gain (or cost) you gold, heath and food. But the enemies get harder too, meaning the key to victory comes in balancing exploration with the luck (or sudden disaster) that each chance encounter might bring.

There are many rogue-likes in gaming, but Hand of Fate is one of the best. It balances classic ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ storytelling with smooth, real-time combat that makes the player feel like Kratos or Batman.

So when the Hand of Fate team announced a Kickstarter project, we were surprised to learn that the goal wasn’t a new video game — but a board game, similar to the board games that inspired Hand of Fate to begin with. It seems like a step backwards for the team. We suppose fans will just have to, well, deal with it.

NEW DEAL FOR GAMING CONVENTION

Many people got a raw deal with GamerCon last March, the first large-scale gaming convention held in Ireland. Hundreds of people were turned away at the doors due to overbooking.

Now, in the parlance of Street Fighter, a new challenger has appeared. PlayersXpo will take place in the Convention Centre Dublin this October and will attempt a very similar event, according to the proposed schedule.

With such a huge demand for a large-scale gaming festival in Ireland, let’s hope success is on the cards for PlayersXpo. Tickets and more at www.players.ie

FIFA POPULARITY ALWAYS ON THE CARDS

Meanwhile, according to a CableTV.com survey, Fifa is the most popular game in Ireland. The website based its research on a list of top games and used Google trends to discover the most popular of those games in countries around the world. Fifa topped the list in 15 nations, with Overwatch topping the list in seven. Predictable results, but who knows what the cards hold for the future…


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