PAX Aus 2017 impressions
Being a Queenslander we don’t get access to a lot of local developers with Sydney and Melbourne being the main hubs for game development in Australia so when we come across a local team it really does stand out. Defiant Development doesn’t really need their location to stand out from a bunch of indie developers anyway with a game like Hand of Fate already on the market back in 2015 gaining them so much respect and a large following already. It is fair to say that when they announced the follow up to this much-acclaimed RPG many people in the gaming community, local and abroad, were extremely happy to hear the news.
While I didn’t get hands-on with Hands of Fate 2 I did have a booking to watch one of the developers play the game and walk me through exactly what the game was all about. Not having played the original this was a godsend as I feel like I would have fumbled my way through the game and not enjoyed it. Hand of Fate 2 has a beautiful mix of card games and action game modes. While in a challenge you will compete with the dealer to perform several goals in a card-based game. The main challenge I saw was a scavenger hunt style card game where the developer was searching through face-down cards for an artefact and as he searched and turned over cards random events would occur. These could simply be an event that costs you resources or maybe gains them, right up to a battle that will be played out in the hack and slash style gameplay.
Each battle sees you take to a small 3D map where you are confronted with numerous enemies you need to defeat. What you need to do to win is different each time, however, sometimes it is time-based, sometimes you might start with really low health, but each time feels just that little bit different to keep you wanting to go back in for more. The combat seemed very standard hack and slash where you find yourself dodging, blocking and then attacking to kill enemies, however, most of the time you have an AI companion with you to help change things up. There are four companions in the game for you to collect and decide when you wish to use them. Each companion has its own unique set of perks that will help you both in the combat battles and the card game side of Hands of Fate 2.
Where Hands of Fate 2 really shines is in its deck building and deep RPG systems that they have doubled down on in this sequel. Instead of making the same game with a new storyline and more content Defiant Development decided to focus on adding more depth to the systems and weapons to give the player far more option when playing this sequel. This will help you want to dive straight back in when you finish the game the first time to see what other styles of play feel like the character and deck are your own as you battle through the game the way you want to play.
Overall I think fans of the original will be pleased from what I saw and if you are interested in things like hack and slash gameplay or any kind of combat style card games you should really check out Hand of Fate 2. The graphics and dialogue look great and the story seems really deep and addictive. We will have a lot more content coming over the coming weeks about Hand of Fate 2 including a review of the game so make sure you keep coming back if you are still unsure about the game. For the price, which sits perfectly for an impulse buy, and detailed gameplay I saw while at PAX Aus I am pretty excited to be getting my hands on the final release very soon.
Now I have had time with the game
So I now have had the game for about two weeks and I couldn’t be happier with it. I was really hoping to have the review out by now but I am still not finished with the game so I really can’t give my full impressions of this really fun and challenging game. Life has been really busy and the game is really challenging. With these two things combined, I now find myself 11 hours into Hand of Fate 2 and through ten of the Twenty-two challenges on offer in the game. A lot of this has to do with the hours that I get to play the game, which is typically late at night. Usually, a challenge would take me no more than thirty minutes but if you don’t concentrate you will lose a challenge easy and have to repeat it. I have done this a lot at times.
Let me go into a bit more detail. The game is unforgiving and hard in all the right ways. Each challenge you enter is unique and you carry all your health, food, gold and fame forward from the start through to the end. What this means is if you make a bad mistake in a fight and lose a lot of health it is hard to come back from, not impossible but hard. This means you really do need to be on your game from the start of the challenge to the end. What this does is two things, it enables you to play the game, in short, bite-size pieces, which I love. What it also succeeds in doing is get you really attached to that challenge and when you overcome it and that slit change in music starts to play to let you know it is over, well, it is hard not to fist pump the air as I have done several times while playing the game.
The way the game draws you into each challenge better than a lot of games on the market and this made even better by the clever narration by the dealer which really gives a sense of being there with our him actually narrating the story to you and getting overbearing. Defiant Developments has struck a really good balance in this respect and although there is a lot of reading, the comments from the dealer seem to make this aspect of the game a lot smoother then I expected. Mixing this with the mini-games that help resolve the situations you face through the card game side of the challenge that isn’t fighting and I always had a sense of things progressing forward without getting bogged down.
Before I get back to finishing the game and giving you all a full review I just want to mention the deck building side of Hand of Fate 2. There is some depth here that I am really keen to uncover and the more I understand about the deck building the more I enjoy the game. I am still at the point of letting the game pick my deck for me but I am now looking over that deck and understanding why those cards are in the deck and making small changes to see what effect that has on my play. I love unlocking the tokens associated with some cards so I try and mix them into my deck where ever possible and my starting supplies will be often modified to help my fighting style from the start. Quickly on the fights, I think this is the weakest part of the game at the start but it really has a rhythm to it that when you master feels really good. Now I have artefacts, items that can be thrown or used on the battlefield, I see the depth growing in the fights.
I really am enjoying my time with Hand of Fate 2 right now, it frustrates me that I have not finished it as yet but that is only because I really want to give you all the feedback on why this game should be on your radar even with all the other so-called bigger titles releasing around it. I am not usually a person who likes a game making me feel useless but for some reason, I am really enjoying that learning curve that I need to climb in order to get past each challenge. Thank you so much to Defiant Development though for unlock multiple challenges at once letting me skip over the ones I can’t do and come back to them later when my deck and skills are a bit stronger. If you have not already please check out Hand of Fate 2 which is out now on Steam and PS4.