Hand of Fate Review

Screenshot from Hand of Fate
Gee, I wonder what this is a parody of

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Defiant Development
  • Publisher: Defiant Development
  • Release Date: 17 Feb 2015
  • Time played: 10+ hours (INCOMPLETE)

What is it

Defiant Development is an Australian games studio formed in 2010 and based in Brisbane. Defiant Development started off developing games for mobile devices such as Ski Safari and Heroes Call before deciding to develop Hand of Fate, a mixture of deck-building card game, roguelike and action RPG aimed at consoles and the PC. In 2013, Defiant Development launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to help them finish off the game and thanks to 1,395 backers (including yours truly), they managed to raise $54,095. Originally, they aimed to released the final product in April 2014 but it wasn't until 2015 that the game was released as a finished product (it did go through a period of Steam Early Access in the interim).

Despite being released three years ago, I never made a concerted effort to finish the game, until I noticed its sequel Hand of Fate 2 being released in November last year. Now if that isn't a kick in the pants, I don't know what is…

How I got it

As mentioned, I was a Hand of Fate Kickstarter backer and that's how I managed to get my copy of the game. I backed the game since it was the first Australian video game project I came across on Kickstarter, not to mention it looked like a good concept; it also looked like it was achievable (another important consideration whenever you're deciding whether to contribute to crowdfunding projects).

Screenshot from Hand of Fate
The Action-RPG combat segments are where you'll rely more on your skill

What I like:

Interesting characters

The game has a bunch of interesting characters, the most memorable for me being a mischievous goblin who often disguises as a human called "Mister Lionel".

Great voice acting

There's only really one person that performs voice acting in this game and that's the Dealer; thankfully, the voice acting is skilfully done thanks to the efforts of professional actor Anthony Skordi.

Good soundtrack

Hand of Fate also boasts a soundtrack that complements the game perfectly; the soundtrack is composed by veteran video games music composer Jeff Van Dyck who has scored music for several Total War games and has won a couple of BAFTA awards for his work. Favourite themes of mine include "Deal of the Millennia" and "Hand of Fate".

Quick games

Since Hand of Fate is one-part roguelike, it's understandable that games can sometimes be relatively short (15-30 minutes per session). Also, since the game shares similarities with a roguelike that means you're not usually wasting your time, provided you're completing side quests and earning new tokens from cards.

Surviving levels requires some strategy

Similar to FTL and I suspect many roguelikes, there's a delicate balancing act between accumulating enough resources and weapons to give you a fighting chance against the boss, and arriving at the boss as soon as possible due to the increased chance of coming across a random encounter you can't win. Also, each level brings its own curses which adversely affect the player. For example, on one particular level there is a curse in effect called "Wrath of Food" which doubles the amount of damage your counter-attacks do but each time you use a counter-attack, you lose one food; food is important in the game since it's used to heal yourself after fights and if you run out of food you'll obviously starve and gradually lose health until you eventually die. Consequently, performing counter-attacks near the beginning or when you have little food left, is probably not a good idea on this particular level.


As mentioned before, this is a game developed right here in Australia, and it's a pretty good one at that. Just goes to show that we definitely have the talent in our fine country to make high quality games.


There's a mace in this game called Thunderstrike and the Dealer makes a subtle reference to this particular song in the game:

I lol'ed.

Steam Achievements, Trading Cards and Leaderboards

The Steam version of the game has 53 Steam Achievements to earn and 8 Steam Trading cards to collect. It is also integrated with Steam Leaderboards.

What I dislike:

Random! Random! Random!

It goes without saying that a game which involves cards tends to rely on chance. Consequently, even if you're actually quite good at the combat part of the game (which requires some skill), it might be all for naught if you happen to draw a bad card. This is why certain blessings such as "Guardian Angel" while sounding rather innocuous (i.e. allowing you the ability to redraw a card) are actually really powerful, since sometimes drawing a Failure or Huge Failure card can have dire consequences. Yes, it's all part of the package but it can sometimes be frustrating when you're performing well in each combat encounter only to draw a bad card that will undo all your hard work.

Difficulty spike

At the end of every level (except for the final level in the game), you will have one boss to take on and I was able to defeat most of these bosses without too much trouble. The final level in the game, however, is a totally different story and I found the level to be incredibly difficult. Firstly, each level of the dungeon that you descend will result in a new curse meaning you'll have quite a few by the time you even reach the final battle. Also, the final battle involves fighting all the bosses you've defeated previously but they come at you in teams of three! (which means there are probably four waves to defeat). Taking three bosses at once is a challenge in itself but you also can't heal in between these battles, which makes it even harder. The furthest I got before giving up (hence why my "time played" is marked as "INCOMPLETE") was getting up to the third wave. A final level in a game should be challenging, I get that, but the difficulty for the final level in Hand of Fate is so much higher than the levels that precede it.

Score – 7/10 (Good)

Hand of Fate works as well as you'd expect a hybrid of card games, roguelikes and action RPGs would; while roguelikes are often a challenge on their own, combining them with card games can sometimes mean a double whammy with respect to adverse random outcomes. This is especially apparent on the final level of the game which I've given up on ever trying to complete. However, the game does have its moments and with its splendid graphics, professional voice acting and a top-class soundtrack, there's a lot to recommend, provided you're ready for a challenge.

Is the game worth $18.29 AUD?: Yes, that's just under $20 for a pretty good fantasy action RPG roguelike – it just depends if you like the randomness imposed by the card deck building aspect of the game. At the moment, GOG seems to have the better deal ($18.29 AUD) considering the game is selling for $20 USD on Steam (and with the current conversion rate, that's over $27 AUD).

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[ LINK: Official Hand of Fate Website ]