OK, let me get this out of the way first. From what I’ve played of it, Hand of Fate 2 is a thoroughly entertaining, original RPG from Australian developer Defiant Development, and it’s almost certainly worth picking up if you’re a fan of the genre. Like its predecessor, it has the neat idea that each individual level takes place on a card dealt out by ‘The Dealer’, with branching routes represented by different formations of cards. Select a card and you might be given a nugget of narrative choice or be thrust into a short, skirmish against, say, a band of thieves trying to rob a farmer. It’s a clever trick, well presented, and it’s a good fun.
But here’s the problem: I’ve only played the first couple of levels of Hand of Fate 2, despite receiving review code way back in November 2017. Hence why this is ‘Not a Review’ – I can’t in all honesty say what the game is really like having only played an hour or two of it.
At first, Hand of Fate 2 was a victim of the pre-Christmas game glut at The Manor, as we fought to review a flood of games. But since then I’ve had loads of time to sit down and play it properly – yet I haven’t. And this is despite me specifically requesting review code from the developers because I really wanted to play the game.
I’ll attempt to explain what happened – but first, I have to offer my sincere apologies to Defiant Development for failing to do a proper review of their game. Sorry about that.
I’ll give you a bit of background first. I’ve almost always been a console gamer, ever since I got an NES back in the early 1990s (although I’ve owned a couple of Amigas, too). But PC gaming was, and always has been, another world to me. Our family got its first PC sometime in the nineties, and the damn thing pretty much never worked properly, right from day one. My sister tried to play some of the Discworld games on it, but it was a huge faff trying to get them to work. And I think about the only game I ever played on it was The Settlers II, a sequel to a game I utterly adored on the Amiga, but that was pretty much it.
I had a friend with a PC, and I loved playing games like Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max and Carmageddon over at his house. But I was never really that interested in getting into PC gaming myself. I’d been put off by the fiddly nature of the machines, not to mention the expense, and in the late 90s, all the games I wanted to play were over on the PlayStation.
But times have changed. Steam and GOG have made PC games far more accessible and easy to run. And Steam in particular has become a hotbed of innovation, with hundreds of fascinating indie experiments being released each month, like the creepy Bonbon. Even better, many of these games don’t require mega graphics cards, so I can run them on my humble laptop without having to fork out thousands for a top-of-the-line PC.
I’ve been watching the Steam vaults grow with increasing jealousy from my console ivory tower. And when Hand of Fate 2 came out, I thought: “That looks really, really cool. I really want to play that.” So I thought I’d give it a go. “This could be the start of a new era of PC gaming for me!” I enthused. But there was just one problem.
I bloody hate playing games on my PC.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like my little laptop – a whirry white HP covered in Digitiser 2000 stickers. But I also spend a massive chunk of my working life staring at it, which means that I don’t associate it with playing games and having fun. And that turned out to be far more important than I thought it would be.
I’m a freelance writer and editor, so I’m chained to my laptop for upwards of seven hours a day, five days a week. When I slam shut its lid, that signals the end of the working day – time for family, food, films and probably a good few hours of gaming on the big telly. The last thing I want to do is open up my laptop again, even if it’s to play a video game – the association with work is just so strong that I found I couldn’t do it. My brain wouldn’t let me.
Instead, I tried playing Hand of Fate 2 during breaks in the working day, so I wouldn’t have to turn on my laptop in non-work time. But that didn’t work either – I mostly write in coffee shops, and it was just weird plugging in a mouse (it’s too hard to play HOF2 on a trackpad) and playing the game in public. It felt wrong.
And at home, I don’t really have anywhere suitable to use a mouse properly. I don’t have a desk, preferring instead to work on the sofa or in bed, and about the only comfortable solution I could find was propping the mouse on The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia and playing in bed. But even that wasn’t particularly comfortable. And still the work association persisted – I found I couldn’t relax and enjoy playing because I kept thinking about standfirsts and grammar, simply because I was at my laptop.
So here we are – I’ve officially given up. It’s been three months now, and I’m clearly not going to get anywhere near finishing Hand of Fate 2, so this pale ‘Not a Review’ will have to suffice. But for the record, both Kotaku and IGN really liked the game, so you should probably think about getting it if RPGs are your cup of tea.
And do you know the really stupid thing? After months of struggling to overcome my pathological aversion to playing this game on my PC, I only just found out this very week that it’s also available on PS4 and Xbox One.
So watch this space, one day soon I will download it on my PS4 and play the damn thing properly. But in the meantime I’ve learned a valuable lesson – playing games on my PC is too much like hard work.
Hand of Fate 2 is available for Steam, PS4 and Xbox One. We didn’t review the PC version.
Disclosure statement: Review code for Hand of Fate 2 was provided by Defiant Development. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.