Hand of Fate 2 Review

With a flourish of his hands, a few fanciful words, and a flip of a card, my fate was decided by the cloaked man: I just starved to death in a burning city besieged by an undead plague.

Not exactly the most glorious of deaths.

With my character’s demise, the cloaked man offered me some patronizing advice, I easily envisioned his smirk beneath his cowl, and levitated all of the game pieces back to their proper places like he was some sort of creepy Mary Poppins.

Hand of Fate 2 is a game within a game within a game. Players take on the role of a traveler in a caravan wagon with the cloaked man. To pass the time he offers to let you play his card game. So you create a character for the card game and start his first scenario. The cloaked man’s game has a few rules to learn, but they’re nothing complex or abstruse. For the sake of time, I’m going to refrain from explaining the rules in much depth, however it’s important to understand that Hand of Fate 2 is not like a traditional card game video game. When it’s time for combat, the cards don’t just smack into one another as the game calculates the damage done; when it’s time for combat, you fight.

Let’s go back a few moments before my aforementioned demise. Across the gameboard were cards arranged in rows and columns. Each card represented a city block that I was traveling through, looking for survivors to save. Every turn cost me some of my food resource, and once I ran out of food, I would take damage with every turn. I ran out of food a few turns ago, so my health level was less-than-ideal at this point. I click on an uncovered card, signaling my character to move there for my next turn. The cloaked man flips the card and it’s an alley full of infected monstrosities.

The cloaked man mutters something hardly encouraging as the game warps me into a combat scenario.

Reality refocuses and I’m now in control of the actual character I’m playing the card game as. All of the weapons/equipment/companion cards that I held in my hand are now a tangible reality.  The monsters do not hesitate and they lurch forward to try and consume my companion and myself.

Using the WASD keys to move, and the mouse to attack/defend, I do a decent job of fending off the monsters’ attacks. As I take a few hits from the monsters, I regret not playing my reinforcements card before this battle scenario, as it would have spawned some city soldiers alongside my companion and I; not the best reinforcements, but it would have taken some of the pressure off of my companion and I.

Eventually, the monsters are slain and I am teleported out of the combat scenario and back to sitting in front of the cloaked man. Unfortunately, the few scrapes I sustained during combat were enough to put me below the threshold needed to survive my next turn. The moment I click to move to the next card, my health evaporates completely and I die. Whirling away all of the cards and game pieces, the cloaked man resets our card game and allows me to choose another scenario or to attempt that same one again.

Hand of Fate 2 is a tough game, but the combat is fluid and fun, reminiscent of early Assassin’s Creed games (I only played the first two), where icons indicate which enemy is about to attack, allowing you time to dodge out of the way or block/counter the attack. Enemy types are varied, so it’s not just hacking-and-slashing through hordes of monsters. Dodging, parrying, riposting, and chaining attacks are crucial for survival, and each action is easy to conduct and visually fluid to observe. Combat in Hand of Fate 2 is great.

The combat is complimented by the game’s easy-to-learn systems, and the ever-intriguing presence of the narrator/game master. I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying Hand of Fate 2. I usually have little patience for learning a new card game, but the treat of actually getting to partake in the combat was enough to usher me through learning the basics, and then after that I was hooked.

RECOMMENDED: Hand of Fate 2 is great in every way. I’ve had no problem learning the game’s systems, the narrator is a great character to get to know, and the scenarios present enough of a challenge without being unfair or overly difficult. 

[Hand of Fate 2 on Steam]


Hand of Fate 2 was reviewed with a retail copy provided by the developer.

Slice of Life: Dauntless

My team of four warriors stormed off in separate directions. The forested cliffs of the floating island rose ahead of us in jagged formations. Goats meandered in a nearby meadow. I could never figure out how the goats ended up on these floating islands, but I had the feeling that they were simply placeholder assets, stuck there to give the nearly-vacant island some life.

Apart from myself, the three other hunters, and the goats, there was only one other thing alive on this island: our target, a Shrike.

Shrikes are a type of Behemoth that are tornado-making birds of prey. But instead of hunting field mice and other rodents, Shrikes hunt humans. Our mission was to hunt down the Shrike that was spotted in the area and kill it. Beyond the faux satisfaction of saving countless lives from being consumed by the beast, slaying the Shrike would provide us hunters with valuable Shrike-based resources that we could use to craft better gear.

In silence, the three other hunters vanished into the woods. I stopped to harvest some plants that I had no idea what to do with, but they looked valuable so I snagged them just to be safe.

Out to the east I heard a dull boom, and then I heard the very iconic shriek of a Shrike. One of the hunters had already stumbled across the beast. Because there is no map in Dauntless, players can signal one another across the island by shooting flares into the air to indicate their location and/or the location of the Behemoth.

I bolted in the direction of the slowly-fading flare. More shrieks echoed off of the cliffs. After a minute-long mad dash, I came to a clearing where two of the hunters were already engaged with the Shrike. I paused to marvel at the sight.

The Shrike was stalking the two hunters who had their weapons drawn and were waiting for the Behemoth to make the next move. The beast shrieked and with surprising agility, corkscrewed up into the air and then body slammed into the ground where the hunters stood just seconds earlier. The two hunters quickly recovered from the attack and were already running to attack the Shrike before it could recover from the dizzying attack.

I unsheathed my chain blades and ran in to join them.

By the time I got within range of the Shrike, it had fully recovered from the body-slam attack and with a gust from its mighty wings it put some distance between where I now stood between the two hunters and the beast itself. There was another brief pause in combat while the Shrike eyed us from across the field.

The fourth warrior ran out from the treeline, between us and the Shrike. The Shrike instantly turned its attention to the single warrior as she sprinted to try to get to the rest of us. The Shrike charged at her on all fours. Unaware of the incoming attack, the warrior was hit hard and her body flew forward through the air.

Simultaneously the rest of us ran in to aid the warrior.

I initiated my special ability as soon as I was close enough to the Shrike. My chain blades flew out infront of me, latched onto the Shrike, and pulled me within melee range of the beast. I promptly began a flurry of quick attacks against the flank of the Shrike. The downed warrior quickly recovered from her fall and swung a giant hammer alongside me. The other two warriors attacked the Shrike from the other side.

With a mighty swooping gesture, the Shrike knocked us all down and then it flew a short distance away. Wasting no time, the Shrike generated a tornado and whirled it in our direction. Before the tornado had even passed by us, the Shrike was flying back across the field at us, wings spread out, talons at the ready, as if we were field mice about to be swooped away for a quick Shrike snack.

We all were able to dodge both the tornado and the Shrike. The Shrike, clearly exhausted from the battle, missed its landing and crashed into the ground. I quickly closed the distance and started my assault against the Shrike.

The battle went on for a bit longer, but it was clear that the Shrike didn’t stand a chance. We eventually slayed the beast after it tried to escape to another part of the island. The other warriors and myself all took some serious damage during the fight, but we can prepared and equipped with healing potions that negated most of the injuries we sustained. With the Behemoth slain, we were awarded with a handful of Shrike-based resources and ushered back to the capital city.

While I didn’t get the exact resources I was hoping for, the good thing about Dauntless is that the behemoths never go extinct. Somewhere out there on another floating island is another Shrike just waiting to be slain.


Dauntless is currently in closed beta. Upon release, Dauntless will be a free-to-play game, but access to the Closed beta is currently restricted to players who pay for access. Phoenix Labs provided Epic Brew with Closed Beta access.

[playdauntless.com]

 

Superflight Review

I never thought I’d be any good at wingsuit flying. First, it would require me to climb a mountain, or jump out of a plane, two things that I don’t plan on doing anytime soon, if at all. Second, I’m certain that as soon as I take flight, my body would involuntarily seize up, and I would just Frisbee into the side of the mountain, spewing vomit the whole way. Third, it would require me to go outside for an extended period of time, and hahahahaha.

So instead, my pale, but perfectly-safe, butt gets to experience wingsuit flying via video entertainment. Namely, through Superflight, a new indie game from GrizzlyGames.

The premise is simple: players take control of a little figure who appears to be made out of cardboard. It’s exactly as I imagine I’d look if someone gave me a moving box and said, “Here Tom, now go fly.” This is about how I’d end up looking:

And then I would die.

My time playing Superflight was half spent saying, “Ooooh, neat!” at the colorful landscapes I flew through, and half spent saying, “Ooooh, shit!” at the colorful landscapes I flew into.

It’s okay though, dying in Superflight is no big deal; players who crash lose whatever point combo-chain they had and their remaining point score is tallied on a personal and global ranking. Points are easily acquired by flying close to the landscapes, or through the little caverns and holes that are usually scattered throughout every zone. Each zone takes the form of a floating landmass, and the player is dropped near the top. If the player flies below the floating landmass, they’re transported to another zone where the descent continues. There are even warp portals that players can fly through to instantly be transferred to a new zone and pick up some bonus points for doing so.

Zones are procedurally-generated and players can generate and save their own maps to share with friends. For example, if you type EpicBrew into the seed generator, you’ll get a blindingly pink map. Pro tip: there is a hole straight down from the start of the map that leads right through to the bottom, so you can escape before your retinas burn out.

For under $3, I did not expect Superflight to bring much to the table. What you see in the video is what you get. The sound design is a bit rough around the edges, —quieting the wind whistling noise was a necessity— and a nice ambient soundtrack would have been nice, but then again, Superflight is a $3 game. Adding a custom soundtrack or a sound designer would bump that price up by a handful of dollars. An excessive cost when Spotify fixes the problem just fine.

I found that playing Superflight with a controller (I used a USB Xbox 360 controller and it worked flawlessly) feels so much better than using the keyboard. For whatever reason, the mouse is not used, so flying is controlled with the WASD keys, which felt clunky. The joystick on the controller felt so much smoother, and I could even recline back in my chair as I flew my little cardboard Iron Man into another mountainside.

[[RECOMMENDED]] Superflight is a fun, affordable game that perfectly fits into a quiet evening.


A Steam copy of this game was purchased by Epic Brew for the purpose of this review.

Five New Indie Games Released On Steam This Week

Last Day of June

[Last Day of June on Steam]

X-Morph: Defense

[X-Morph: Defense on Steam, also multi-platform]

Deep Ones

“Retro arcade-platformer with multi-genre parts, inspired by ZX Spectrum, Bioshock and works of H.P. Lovecraft.”

[Deep Ones on Steam]

Songbringer

“Darkness sleeps just beneath the cracks on the ever-changing planet. The curious will uncover powerful artifacts and forge them anew. The strong will take the nanosword and crush galactic giants.”

[Songbringer on Steam]

Bannerman

[Bannerman on Steam]