Story: The Dealer returns and while he is a little worse for wear, he offers up a new game, one he has fine tuned to challenge and punish the players. A blight ravages the kingdom and threatens all, but that doesn’t prevent in-fighting and shows of strength, even as populations dwindle. Of course, you’re right in the middle of this battle for survival, but even you find yourself diverted by all manner of colorful characters, wild fights, and mystical quests. The Dealer has arranged a host of new challenges, each of which is like a puzzle piece that fits into the larger picture and the more challenges you complete, the clearer that bigger picture becomes. So pick up your weapon and hope for good luck, as you once again sit across from The Dealer.
Entertainment Value: As a fan of the first Hand of Fate game, I was curious about this sequel and how it would evolve the experience, but I hoped it wouldn’t scorch the foundation already in place. As it turns out, Hand of Fate 2 keeps most of the basics in place and aims to add and enhance. This is true of the entire experience, which starts with the narrative elements. Instead of your goal being to take down various bosses, you find yourself in smaller, but interesting campaigns, each with a unique story that ties into a larger arc. Some are straight forward, while others present unique challenges, such as being forced to carry a cursed weapon that prevents most health recovery, a certain level of fame needed to wield a powerful weapon, or the need to earn some blessings to prove yourself. While some are a real pain, most of the challenges are fun and task you to learn the best combination of cards, which sometimes means going back to unlock ones to ease your burden. The Dealer is back of course and adds so much to the game, but I also appreciate the addition of more story and character driven stories, this makes it seem like an intimate tabletop RPG experience. Though I doubt many would choose The Dealer to sit across from.
I found combat to be about the same, with Arkham style prompts to dodge, counter, and such, but with a host of new weapons, armor, and abilities to ensure even veterans will need to sharpen their skills. The game also throws in some new elements to add to the risk/reward dynamic, the random card shuffle is back, but we also now have several other, luck based mini-games on hand. I like them for the most part, but sometimes they feel too frequent and success in a campaign might hinge more on luck than skill, which can frustrate. But overall, I think the new elements work and spice up the campaigns a little more. The card system is deeper and has more impact on the game, while the token aspect is also expanded. I liked how some weapons even have token unlocks now, so it helps keep consistent goals in place. The graphic retain the design elements of the original, but look a little sharper and more refined this time around. And the controls were fine as well, a little loose in combat, but capable overall. I do think this one can get repetitive, especially if you’re stuck trying to earn tokens that are wholly luck based, but such is the nature of Hand of Fate 2. If you enjoyed the first game or like the idea of a series of brisk, fun tabletop RPG adventures with a multi-front approach, you won’t want to miss this one.