Lately, I've been burned ever so slightly by both Legends of Runeterra and MTG Arena, but for different reasons. As I was looking for something to play instead, a friend of mine on Twitter started asking about games to play with Twitch integration. Some of the games that came to mind were ones I've already played on stream, like Slay the Spire and Dead Cells, but there was one that I remembered loving, but forgot had Twitch integration.
While I've talked about Hand of Fate a few times on the old Texture Pop podcast, I've never actually showed off either the original game or it's sequel. And since the sequel allows for viewer participation, it seemed like a good idea.
(Apologies for the abysmal audio balancing on this video. I have no excuse for this one, and I should have seen how loud it was while recording.)
What I find most impressive about Hand of Fate is how well in simulates the experience of playing a tabletop adventure while still taking advantage of the digital space to do things that could not be done on pen-and-paper. And a large part of it's success come down to the performance of The Dealer.
The Dealer serves as both our adversary and constant companion, connecting the whole experience together to better sell the scene. Every fortune is met with begrudging acknowledgement and faint praise. Every failure is responded to with snide wit and thinly-veiled contempt. While this isn't as pronounced in the sequel as it was in the original game, shades of it still exist. I couldn't help but feel as if I had formed a strange relationship with him through my time playing, built on a strong desire to beat him at his own game.
And by traversing this game map, forged by cards both we and Dealer have added to the deck, it truly begins to feel like playing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign led by an asshole DM who nonetheless is still trying to at least play fair so that he can feel good about destroying us.
That extends to the mechanical structure of the game. Sure, the Arkham-style combat system is nothing to write home about, but it does a fine job of being an outlet in which the other systems feed into. It's cool to see all of the equipment we've acquired through our adventure attach itself to our avatar, our stamina determined by how well we're been keeping ourselves fed and healthy.
It's the package, when put together, that forms such a strong whole that I find endlessly compelling. I'm happy to come back to it, even after all this time.