Hand Of Fate from Australian developer Defiant Development is a tough game to put into any one genre, as it holds deck building elements of games like Magic The Gathering, and RPG elements and a combat style something like Shadow Of Mordor, which sounds complicated, but in fact is so well amalgamated it comes together beautifully. It is very much a game within a game as you are dealt cards while choosing what path you wish to follow, allowing you to carve out your own adventure as you go. A sort of D&D style tabletop game that comes to life before your eyes as you are suddenly thrust into battle with all manner of beasts, goblins and bandits while trying to carve a pathway to the end. You will spend most of your time sitting at the table of a battle hardened dealer, who tells you that you have passed the thirteen gates to get here, he refuses none to sit at his table but only one will live in this battle between life and death. Honestly looking into the eyes of this weary looking man, I am not totally sure I want to take him on, after all he is holding all the cards! I sit down and the dealing of cards begins and so does my journey into a land of mystery and danger, that turns out to be quite a struggle at times.

He deals the first cards and my piece moves one place, a Tavern where I encounter a wizard who gratuitously gives me a shield, accepting it the dealer is quick to point out he was not going to let me embark without some way of defending myself on the road ahead. He tells me he has 12 champions in all and I must vanquish them all in order to challenge him. It does not take long before I come into my first test of battle, where the game changes from the table of cards to a full environment in which you battle the enemies face to face, metal to metal as it were. This was quite surprising to me as the characters emerged from the cards into the place of battle, but I easily dealt with these bandits. The combat element is simple enough to control, you press X to attack and Y to deflect an incoming attack. Attacks being made by enemies are indicated by a green or red icon above their head, green can be countered while red icons are better avoided by moving out of the way as these attacks cannot be blocked. I found the combat a little too easy and forgiving, while it was definitely fun to actually have these real time encounters they lacked that substance of being in any way challenging for the player. The environments in which they were held were rendered well and designed perfectly for the setting, while the characters lacked a real level of detail.

During the first few journeys the dealer is very generous as you will comes across Maidens that will supply you with extra life points or supplies in the form of food, which is necessary as you spend one food token for every move you make. You will find weapons at the bottom of Gorges where you can choose to either climb down and retrieve it or simply move on. Deciding to retrieve the weapon is a game of chance where you will have to pick from four cards that have success and failure wrote on them, picking the correct one will grant you the weapon, pick the wrong one and your efforts will be for nothing. All these paths lead to champions of the dealer and defeating these guys is essential to your quest, as you will gain their tokens that will gradually build up your deck of cards. Having a bigger deck to choose from will help you down the line as stronger weapons and spell cards will most definitely be needed. The story lasted me a good 11 hours, but repeating the process can give you an entirely different path to the end result, but the champions stay the same. Hand Of Fate combines all the elements from these different genres and makes them work in a very unique and pleasurable way, a way that we have not seen before and I have to give credit to the developers for their ingenuity. It is not without it’s bugs in places as the framerate drops seriously during some of the hands the dealer is throwing out and graphically it does the job, just not quite at the level it could have been with a little more time and effort, Hand Of Fate could well have been tremendous.

Hand Of Fate is definitely one of those games that intrigues and immerses a player into it’s world, but the encounters can become repetitive and dispatching enemies becomes little more than trivial at times. The dealer does have some good lines and I love the whole feel of the game overall, it feels right and comfortable in it’s setting. The wise cracks from the dealer if you take too long in making a decision are great and he has a brilliant personality. It has an unlockable Endless mode also where you can pit your wits against the dealer for as long as you can hold out, this is not for the guys who are looking for a quick game as these encounters can last for hours depending on how you handle your deck and your choices. Hand Of Fate delivers something fresh to the table by combining these popular genres and carving out a corner of their very own in the market. With this game being the developers first outing onto console it is an effort to be commended and applauded, and I am hoping that they continue with the Hand Of Fate as a series and we see more improved versions in the future. I am delighted by Hand Of Fate and repeatedly return to the table of the hardened face dealer continually trying to out wit him on occasion. Now you must choose your own path, will you sit down and face the dealer or will you stay safe in your home playing some generic shooter?