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Review: Hand of Fate 2 (Nintendo Switch)By Sasari At 04.08.2018 20:26

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Sat across from The Dealer, a mysterious narrator and games master, an interactive story plays out with the help of a deck of cards. The first card drawn, and the first campaign to play through is The Fool, setting out into the woods in pursuit of a group of thieves headed up by a "chaotic neutral" style mage who ends up becoming the first companion. This initial story introduces the many key elements of each subsequent campaign.

When starting a campaign, a set amount of cards can be equipped dependant on the length and complexity of the campaign. Completing parts of the game unlocks these cards, and campaigns can be replayed with different cards, hence the roguelike element. These unlockable cards come under a range of types. Equipment cards can be various weapons, armour, special items, and assigning them in a campaign means that they will be the rewards earned in completing the Encounters. Encounter cards have a wide range of quests or simple tasks to complete. From dealing with pickpockets or helping damsels in distress, to combating plagues or heading into deadly forests. Dependent on the complexity and difficulty of the encounters, new cards can be acquired should the campaign be complete. Finally, companions and supplies can be equipped that are useable from the start of the campaign.

Just how do those campaigns actually play out, though? Acting as a playing piece, a map of cards is laid out face down and can be navigated across. When cards are flipped over, they can be the equipped encounters, or campaign-specific activities. As they are flipped, it could require a dice roll to overcome the encounter, it could give a handful of cards, some success, and some failure, mixed up for the player to pick one, or a combat encounter.

The combat sections are very reminiscent of the of the Batman Arkham games; the face buttons act as attack, block, dodge, and bash. Enemies will telegraph attacks with either a green or red indicator appearing above their head; green can be blocked at just the right time for a parry, red indicates significant attacks that can't be blocked and need to be evaded. As with the Arkham titles, it means attack, counter, attack, counter, evade, attack. It's simplistic, but fun, with a few extra elements to spice it up. Dependent on a weapon type, landing enough attacks in a chain unlocks a special move; there are finishing moves, special abilities to use, and companions to take into battle.

After completing The Fool, three new campaigns open up, and completing more, opens more. As an example of what to expect in these campaigns, take for example the campaign "The High Priestess." This sees a story play out that consists of a trek to the top of snowy peaks to try and meet with the titular High Priestess. The equipped encounters are mixed together with the dealer's cards from the campaign; these can consist of bombarding Blizzards that chip away at health, avalanches to crush all below them, and huge Viking-like warriors swing claymores of absurd size. Getting to the top will give a silver completion, but there's a secondary objective to try and complete; in this campaign it means hunting down blessings.

These primary and secondary objectives are in every campaign and these, combined with the unlockable cards, and the roguelike aspects, makes for some decent replayability. As an added bonus, this version comes with a handful of extras. Endless Adventures gives - unsurprisingly! - an endless mode to play through, including 60+ new blessing and curse cards to add to the deck. Then there's Shattered Memories, bringing lots more new encounters, equipment, and customisation items. Finally, there's the Dealer's Apprentice pack, which unlocks the Dealer himself as a companion, along with more customisation options.

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Final Score
The original [i]Hand of Fate[/i] had a Vita port planned, which sadly never came to fruition. [i]Hand of Fate 2[/i] on Nintendo Switch shows just how good that port could have been. It's so absurdly addictive and utterly unique. It improves on the original in every way and is a truly unique experience. It takes elements of so many different types of games and mashes them together; a process that usually results in a metaphorical goopy mess, but here it's somehow turned into gold.



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