Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Hand of Fate

Go To
Beyond the thirteen gates at the end of the world, the game of life and death is played. Adventurers who face the immortal Dealer must re-live encounters from their past, and fight the deadliest monsters in his service.

Hand of Fate is a unique mix of Hack and Slash, Roguelike and Deckbuilding Game. At the start of each adventure, you get the chance to customize two decks, one containing all the treasure you'll be able to earn, and the other describing the encounters you'll have to face along the way. Upon entering a combat encounter, all of the cards the player has collected fly into their hands as fully modeled 3D assets, and combat begins. From there, most of the game will be spent staring down the dealer from the other side of a maze made of the encounter cards, moving a miniature representing yourself from quest to quest, watching them slowly gain better weapons and armor, and quickly lose health and supplies. The aim of it all is to seek out and defeat all of the face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) of the deck's four suits: Dust, Skulls, Plague, and Scales. Each waits at the bottom of a dungeon, represented by a new game with the Dealer. The rules of each game change to favor each of the bosses.

Hand of Fate was developed by the Australian studio Defiant Development, and was released in February 2015. A sequel, Hand of Fate 2, was released in November 2017. Set a hundred years after the Dealer's defeat at the end of the original, it features his return among the living in search of revenge, taking a new adventurer through scenarios based on his (or her!) deeds to prepare them for the final battle their carriage inexorably approaches. The sequel features more overworld puzzles, selectable companions, an improved combat and weapon system, and multiple adventures with their own mechanics.

Not to be confused with the second installment in The Legend of Kyrandia series, which shared the same name, and definitely not to be confused with Manos: The Hands of Fate as well as The Gamers: Hands Of Fate.

The first game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The Game of Life and Death, while the events of the game itself don't affect either the player or dealer, a stipulation of it is that whoever ultimately loses, whether it be the player giving up or the dealer running out of challenges, will be rendered Deader than Dead.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Sometimes the Dealer sincerely apologizes after inflicting a rather nasty effect on you.
  • Boss Dissonance: Until very late in the game, the challenge is rarely defeating a given boss, but reaching them in one piece (likely because they need to reappear as regular enemies later, along with more Mooks than they had before).
  • Boss Rush: When facing The Dealer.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Lizard Folk wear armor and carry shields made of hide suspiciously similar to their own.
  • Crossing the Desert: All the unique encounters of the Nomad fate revolve around finding your way to a specific place within a giant desert by choosing the correct directions to move in.
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • "Dealer's Revenge" causes enemies to drop bombs when they die. This almost always hurts their allies instead of you. Its placement in the Curse Deck seems weird.
    • Not as weird as one of the curses attached to the Queen of Skulls's level which makes all shop items less expensive. Likely the only reason this one is a curse is because the other curse for that level gives you a curse for every item you buy. It's meant to tempt you.
    • The Occult Ring increases the player's weapon damage with every curse the player receives.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The Dealer's comments, as well as some of the things the player may encounter, strongly suggest the protagonist has led a morally gray life at best.
  • Damage Discrimination: For the most part in effect, but some attacks (such as blunderbuss shots and some heavy swings from bosses) can hurt other enemies. Traps and hazards also affect enemies as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Dealer's dry wit makes up a majority of the game's humor.
  • Deal with the Devil: The "Devil's Choice" and "Devil's Wager" encounters.
  • Death Course: The "Maze of Traps" encounter has you run a gauntlet of various traps in order to reach the treasure at the end. There is also the "Devilish Traps" encounter which is unique to the final stage and works the same way, except for being far deadlier and with no reward at the end. The "Goblin King's Halls" card chain puts you through one as well, with gold scattered about for the taking.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: "You continue to die and yet we reset the board each time". At the end of each dungeon, even though you visibly kill the Face cards, they return on new runs. The Dealer might get this treatment as well, depending on your interpretation of the ending.
  • Degraded Boss: Jacks start appearing as normal encounters about halfway through, with defeated Queens and Kings joining in shortly thereafter.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: As the game progresses, new encounters tend to involve very difficult fights, hard-to-win chance events, a hefty blow to supplies or health, or a combination of the three. On the other hand, either the events themselves or the equipment their tokens unlock are generally extremely useful.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: The King of Dust can summon giant boulders to try and crush the Hero. The Rocks Fall card could also count.
  • Dual Boss: Can rarely be thrown at you if more than one monster card is drawn and they're both bosses. Certain cards also spawn two bosses as well, either as a failure, or to make you fight for the token.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The Apprentice Fate added in the Wildcard DLC makes the game considerably easier, but disables all but a handful of achievements. That said, like the DLC's Warlord Fate, it has unique encounters that grants an achievement upon completion, so it's worth it to play Apprentice mode at least once.
  • Endless Game: Available as one of the two modes in the game, the other being Story Mode.
  • Epic Fail: Getting a "Huge Failure" in the Shell Game usually results in one.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep"/No Name Given: Neither the Dealer or the Player/Hero have a name. Subverted for the original Hero in Hand of Fate 2, his name is Kallas.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. Rifles are the skeletons' unique weapon, and are both powerful and unblockable (but fortunately are not hard to dodge).
  • Faux Symbolism: As the game has some inspiration from things like tarot cards, the Dealer will, in-universe, occasionally comment on the symbolism of a card such as noting that rivers are common symbols in myths... but usually also comment how a river is usually just annoying to try and cross.
  • Flunky Boss: All of the face card bosses come with troops from their suit.
  • Fortune Teller: You encounter one in the Underworld DLC card "Alicia in Underworld". She spouts generic nonsense unless you get the Huge Success card, then give her an artifact. At which point she admits she's actually the carriage driver and the actual fortune teller left a few days ago.
  • Gainax Ending: As you win the final battle, the screen cuts to black and... "Oh. One more for the game". Roll credits.
  • Game-Breaker: In-Universe, the Dealer claims that some Blessings are "too good for the likes for you" or "will need to be changed". It should be noted that these quotes are randomly said whenever a player gains any Blessing, and are not necessarily a reflection of that particular Blessing being too powerful.
  • Graceful Loser: The Dealer, as shown by the sequel; he's as snarky as ever, but recognizes that Kallas beat him and deserved his chance to become the new Dealer. Emphasis on the past tense.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Getting some card tokens can be really tricky and counter-intuitive.
    • Getting the gold token on "The Devil" in the second game is not intuitive at all. Unlike most challenges with two tokens that clearly indicate a target that must be hit before reaching the end, in order to earn this token you must have a specific card in your deck (Desert Trek) and have it show up at the right time in order to bypass the final card game. This is one of the only challenges with such an obscure requirement needed to pass it.
  • Hard Mode Perks: The Warlord hard mode from the Wild Cards DLC. While it does make enemies more damaging and aggressive, it also allows the player to have faster movement speed, more damaging attacks, and a stronger counter attack, in addition to unique Warlord encounters in their deck.
  • Hidden Depths: The Player Character is hinted to have this, as the cards the dealer's using are culled from the life experiences of the opponent he's currently facing. Which means that, before he arrived at the Dealer's table, the Adventurer has led a varied and interesting life.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted, the game makes it very clear how important it is for a fighter to protect themselves. Then again, no-one said the adventurer was a hero...
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Emergency Ring, which, upon receiving a killing blow, consumes all of your food and restores an equivalent amount of health, and the King's Ring, which deflects killing blows at the cost of 10% of your gold each time.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Dealer's comments regarding potentially overpowered cards and how he needs to scale them back qualify as this as well.
    • Before you unlock the Cup, the card "Mr. Lionel" is the easiest way to get a shield. The Dealer will sometimes note that it's probably the only reason you have that card in your deck.
  • Life Drain: The Skeleton King Sword, both as an automatic effect at high combo levels and a triggered ability.
  • Lost Technology: Only the undead have access to firearms.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: The Guardian Angel blessing allows you to re-shuffle random results, and the Helm of Clairvoyance highlights a single Failure card prior to making a decision.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: A shield of any kind is perhaps the single most important piece of equipment your character can use. With a shield, you can counter enemy attacks and even deflect projectiles; without one, you will have to rely on your own reflexes to dodge enemy attacks by diving out of the way, and the game won't warn you with a big, flashy sign when you're about to be attacked. A skilled player can still face small groups of foes without a shield, especially if they have a good weapon equipped, but large melees will nearly always end up with the hero dead. Fortunately, once you unlock the Cup, your starting equipment thereafter will always include a shield... though nothing stops you from losing it.
    • This goes both ways - lizardmen carry shields, and most attacks will simply bounce off of them unless you stun them or open with a counter.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: Promising to deliver items of enough value will usually involve one of these. Deciding to keep the goods for yourself will have dire effects on your life expectancy.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: One of the nastier effects in the game, caused by Pain cards and certain curses.
  • Money Spider: Goblins. You can make up more gold than they stole from you by beating them thoroughly. The Mercenary Contract turns everything else into this for a short while.
  • Mook Chivalry: Normal enemies adhere to this slavishly. The bosses... not so much.
  • Mook Maker: The Queen of Skulls brings an altar with her to the battle, which raises more skeletons as you fight. The King of Skulls does this without needing a totem.
  • No Bulk Discounts: Averted with most stores when it comes to food, as buying individual pieces of food has you pay more for each piece compared to buying larger stacks at once.
  • One-Hit Kill: A weapon with the "finisher" trait will kill any standard enemy so long as they're knocked down, while the Blood Crescent allows an instant kill at the cost of health. Bashing with the Skeleton King Shield also means instant death for non-boss skeletons.
    • A Major Failure during the Secret Society event also leads to instadeath.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Receiving enough Lose Max Health cards can turn the Hero into this, especially since it is impossible to die by losing max health.
  • Our Elves Are Different: "The Maiden" lets you seek help from a lady called Mereth, an elf with her healing magic and lembas bread. The goblin card chain has you ask for a lock of her hair, which she grants, though not without misgivings.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The goblin Mister Lionel tries to pass himself as a short human with a hooded cloak and a fake mustache.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Goes without saying, but each suit in the Dealer's Court stands in for a traditional suit: Dust is clubs, Skulls is hearts, Plague is diamonds, and Scales is spades. Interestingly enough, the order they're introduced in is in ascending power of the relative suits in the card game Bridge. There's also a fifth suit that only shows up in events, Hell.
    • Tarot Motifs: Every three successful stages, you gain an artefact that changes your starting equipment and the level of the enemies. You gain a cup, a scepter, a pentacle (on a coin), and a sword the four suits of Tarot's minor arcana. In Hand of Fate 2, each end encounter is inspired by a card from the major arcana, from The Fool to The World (the last battle).
  • Poisoned Weapons: Ratmen can poison you with their melee attacks.
  • Respawning Enemies: Defeated skeletons can get back up if the fight takes too long, unless they're killed with a weapon with the Holy trait.
  • Road Runner PC: You're pretty fast at the start of the game, and you can roll really far. The speed buffs from progressing through the game, and items like Fleet Gloves and Angel's Wings, only push this into ridiculous territory.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "The Lovers" card is the tale of a forbidden love between a talented bard and the daughter of the Guildsmaster. Successfully escort the pair out of the city and earn the card "Lonely Bard". If the name didn't clue you in, yeah, she dumps him.
    • Throw the Dog a Bone: If you encounter the "Wandering Minstrel" card and donate to them, they'll tell you they're off to play in the city of Kadere. If, later in the same session, you encounter the Lonely Bard and donate to him, you'll tell him about the gig in Kadere. This puts a new card on the map called "The Band." Going to this card reveals that the bard met up with the minstrels and have formed a band together, the Lonely Hearts. The bard is ecstatically happy and will give you three pieces of equipment.
  • Shell Game: "Chance events" have multiple outcomes determined in this manner four cards, a varying mix of "Success," "Failure," "Huge Success", and "Huge Failure," are brought together into a small stack and then back apart. It doesn't cheat, however - cards keep their positions between being stacked and being spread, so if you can keep track of a card, you can find it. This is easiest if the card you want is on the top.
  • Shield Bash: One of the most useful moves in the game. Puts enemies off guard, interrupts channeled abilities, and hurts them from behind their own shields. Some shields bash even better, at the cost of not shielding as much.
    • Gone in the sequel you can still bash to interrupt abilities and remove armor and blocking, but it's not a shield bash even if you're using a sword and shield, your hero/ine will kick or lash out with rapid pommel strikes.
  • Shout-Out: "Our hero needs food badly."
    • One of the gauntlets is called Assassin's Greed.
    • Followed up in the sequel by an armor called Berserker's Creed.
  • Story Arc: Several encounter cards have tokens that, when earned, unlock a card that acts as a continuation of the story of that card. The final card of an arc is often a very beneficial encounter with no strings attached.
  • Stuck Items: As you advance, you unlock some cards which you won't be able to remove from your deck until you fulfill certain requirements. Most are as easy as beating a certain boss, but others are more elaborate. For example, you must pony up 50 gold at the "Culling The Ratmen" encounter to remove those pesky rat hunting parties.
  • Smug Snake: The Dealer doesn't pass up an opportunity to criticize your play, insult your choice of equipment or remind you that any moments of success aren't going to last.
  • Tennis Boss: Countering a ranged attack will cause your adventurer to hit the projectile with his shield, catapulting it straight at the thrower.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: After defeating the third boss, bandits gain access to throwing knives, which always cut, even when deflected back at them.
  • The Fair Folk: The encounter "Nymphs of Sweetwood" gives you the option to play with said nymphs. They take everything equipment, blessings, curses, health counter leaving your character not just how he began the game, but how he began the very first game. You get a unique blessing as a parting gift, though.
  • Video Games and Fate: The Dealer will sometimes lean on the fourth wall.
    Think about the way we play this game. You continue to die, yet we reset the board each time. One has to wonder how it is possible to truly lose.
He also indicates that the player may have free will, but he himself does not.
All the world is a game, and us men and women merely players. I alone do not play I maintain the rules. You have choices, and I have predestination. Your choices, though, are merely a rediscovery of that which you already know.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Passing the Success test of "The Tavern" doesn't grant you the token. You must get a Failure (but not a Huge Failure) to leave with the shipless Captain to the open sea, then Success to find the ship. And after cleaning the ship of hostiles, you have to kill the Captain, too.
  • Weapons and Wielding Tropes:
    • Axe: Your starting weapon. The weakest of the weapons, especially the rusty version, but blessings can improve it.
    • Carry a Big Stick/Drop the Hammer: The mace attacks fastest, but deals low damage. Very good at applying status effects, or breaking apart the undead.
    • Heroes Prefer Swords: The average of the three weapons. Some of the best named weapons are swords.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: As long as you have food, you regain health each time you move from one card to another. Once you run out, you lose health twice as quickly.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Ratmen are so filthy that being hit by their claws poisons you.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The dealer hints in the Original "Hand of Fate" that by beating him, you inherit the game, almost saying so outright during the final battle. The ending suggests otherwise, though.

The second game provides examples of:

  • Anti-Climax: Invoked; the whole purpose of playing Hand of Fate with the Dealer is to prepare the player for the unfair, unexpected version of the Deadly Game that Kallas could unleash on the player. Except Kallas doesn't give a flip about roleplaying an adventure with the player, and skips straight to a marathon boss fight, effectively negating most of the training you've taken to prepare you for the 'true' gauntlet.
    Kallas: You expect me to play cards?! No, I have devoted my life to battle - and battle it shall be!
  • Ban on Magic: Magic is illegal in the Empire (although they'll still hire necromancers to do their dirty work), with them only looking the other way one day out of the year and persecuting mages at all other times, they wage war on the Northerners who still use magic, and have conducted purges of magical species within their territories, driving the ratmen and lizardmen from the first game to extinctionnote . The only non-human species they haven't persecuted are gnomes and dwarves, and the Dealer suggests the dwarves might be left around because they're simply too boring.
  • Big Bad: The Usurper Kallas aka The Player from the first game, who The New Player wants to end their despotic rule and The Dealer wants revenge against.
    • Big Bad Wannabe: Emperor Alec the Fourth is nominally responsible for most of the Empire's crimes throughout the game the relentless persecution of mages, the attack on Far Water, the burning of the Old City and more to the point where one of the player's penultimate tasks is to assassinate him. But he's nothing more than Kallas' puppet, and doesn't even merit combat when you face him.
  • Call-Back: Mereth and Lionel return from the first game, as does the town of Stiegal. The four cursed items in The Star are the Dealer's objects of power, which the player-as-Kallas claimed previously.
  • Dwindling Party: Judgment is this if you haven't completed your companions' storylines: you'll have to sacrifice them, one by one, to get you to the end. There's no time to mourn as you're being chased by the Empire, but Ariadne's tears for Estrella, and Colbjorn's death at the hands of Rogvir, are highlights of the sequence.
  • The Empire: One formed between the two games due to Kallas's control over The Game of Life and Death. They carry a very despotic rule that is committed to exterminating anything supernatural in order to prevent The Dealer from coming back.
  • Escort Mission: The entirety of "The Lovers" in the sequel a drawn-out, frustratingly difficult attempt to keep a suicidal potato farmer alive. Not only does he eat through your stocks of food and does his best to get himself killed in combat, every adventure has a chance to have him kidnapped and dragged off somewhere else on the map, rapidly losing health as you try to get to him.
  • Expy: Thanks to his overconfident-yet-cowardly demeanor, disguise as a bard, womanizing ways, and being a Mr. Vice Guy through and through, Malaclypse has a lot in common with Dandelion.
  • Fallen Hero: The Big Bad is Kallas, the protagonist of the original, having gone mad with the power of the cards.
    • Depending on your fighting style, ANY ONE of these companions can be The Lancer in the final battle.
  • How We Got Here: The game opens up with the new Player and the Dealer traveling on a wagon cart to fight the Big Bad, and the majority of the Game of Life and Death is framed this time as how the player character got to this point and his meeting with the Dealer.
  • Kukris Are Kool: Colbjorn seems to think so, which is why he fights with two, and carries six or seven more.
  • The Lancer: Now you have companions who fight alongside you (though in each stage, you can choose one if you have more one). But if they die in game, it's permanent unless you have a saved game meaning that if they die, they won't be back for the final battle. If ALL FOUR are alive, though, you and they become a Five-Man Band for the battle as shown here.
  • Multiple Endings: There are two possible endings you can get when you beat the game:
    • Normal Ending: Obtained if you didn't complete all your companions' storylines. The Dealer regains his power from Kallas and becomes in charge once again.
    • Golden Ending: Obtained if you completed all of your companions' storylines. The Dealer, impressed by the traits you've exhibited throughout your journey, decides to voluntarily make you the new Dealer, curious as to whether or not you'll make the same mistakes as your predecessor.
  • Rogue Protagonist: The hero of the first game has become the leader of a fascist, despotic empire that is brutally subjugating the world, and the purpose of the new hero's game is so the Dealer can train them, both to save the world and so the Dealer can take vengeance on Kallas for his past defeat.
  • Sanity Slippage: According to the Dealer, Kallas actually was a genuinely heroic man at first, using the power of the cards to forge his empire justly and genuinely spread peace and order. But as time went on, the cards' power slowly became too much for him, eroding at his sanity until he became the despotic, battle-crazed tyrant he is in 2.
  • Shout-Out: The card "Tarts, Pies, and Exotic Lies" has the option for Chester to hand you a cinnamon butterscotch pie.
  • Stealth Mentor: The Dealer has been building this game's hero/heroine to take on the previous game's Fallen Hero, Kallas, in the final battle, "The World." How? By playing the "refined game" of Hand of Fate 2.
  • Take a Third Option: In the Devil challenge, in order to reach the final encounter and save Estrella, you must choose to either deny Theophilus the potion so that you can use it yourself, thus condemning him to eternal torment, or wager your freedom in a game that you can't possibly win. That is, unless you have the Desert Trek card in your deck, in which case you can use it to reach the final encounter without compromise. This is necessary to get the gold token for the challenge.
  • Tarot Motifs: Each of the adventures is named (and often themed) after one of the Major Arcana.
  • Tennis Boss: Some of the shields can deflect projectiles right back at enemies others just let you block ranged attacks, which is impossible with heavy or dual light weapons.
  • The Power of Hate: The Dealer has come back from his defeat in the first game for revenge, clawing his way past the Thirteen Gates back to this world. Seeing the Game corrupting Kallas into an Evil Overlord, the Dealer puts the player in the second game to build him or her up to be a force to take Kallas down.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The Dealer is noticeably kinder in this game than the first one. While he still snarks at the player should they get a Huge Failure, he is much less antagonistic towards the player, even going as far as try to reassure them should they fail. Justified in that in the sequel, both The Player and The Dealer share the same goal.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The cause of the Corruption was actually the fault of the Hermit and Malaclypse, as they tried to revive someone from the dead who should've stayed in (implied to be the Dealer, who's also appeared at the end of the Star scenario).
  • Video Game Geography: Not by design, but it is possible for the player to invoke this; depending on the choice of encounter card in the deck, it is possible to stumble across a bustling city, verdant forest or endless desert right next to each other... while halfway up a snow-capped mountain.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Kallas, the Fallen Hero of the first game, eventually became Drunk with Power that the cards gave him after beating the Dealer earlier, driving him mad.