There is a feeling you get on discovering a new world that cannot be duplicated. Like stepping through the wardrobe, falling down the rabbit hole, or having been spat in the eye by a Hobgoblin; when you first see the curtain drop, and the landscape come into focus, excitement akin to Christmas morning overtakes all other senses.
Such was my experience long ago when, on a whim, I picked up Suikoden II at my local flea market. To me it looked like your average game at the time. Pixel graphics. Promise of amazing story on the back. I had no great expectations.
I've never been more wrong in my life.
As many who love RPGs have found, the Suikoden series is one of the best if not THEE best in the history of the genre. When I popped that disc into my old PS1 and heard the opening, named my avatar, and within the first hour was betrayed?! Hah! I was eight years old again, unopened red an green boxes sat before me under the tree.
Fast forward about 15 years and that same jolt of excitement strikes again. This time in the form of an indie game I picked up on Steam called 'Hand of Fate'.
Brought to us by Defiant Development - a small Studio based in Brisbane, Australia - greenlit by the Steam community, and funded on Kickstarter; the game could not be more Indie if you gave it a whip and put it above a pit of snakes.
55,000 dollars was all it took to see this masterpiece come into being. A drop in the bucket compared to the triple A titles being produced these days. Yet, as I play the game, I don't notice the difference. The voice acting is superb, the graphics are breath taking, and the combat animations are so satisfying you feel like yelling out, "GET REKT!!" whenever your shield connects with an NPC's face.
What truly makes this game stand out however is not the RPG elements, nor the brawling. No, they are but two of the ingredients Deviant Development decided to toss in the pot. You also have a table top experience that's like a Tarot card reading mixed with Magic the Gathering. Deck building that reminds you more of 'choose your own adventure' books. Mazes reminiscent of classic dungeon crawlers. With all of it wrapped in a game of luck to the style of 'choose your card, any card'.
Most of the deaths I've had in game has been due to choosing the wrong card and having my health eaten away. Or my food depleted, adding to the RPG experience of resource managing. Every single move has you on the edge of your seat because of this. With the fights actually a nice respite, and chance to catch your breath.
Now, that isn't to say the fighting isn't challenging. Think Assassin's Creed, but with an element of luck thrown in. As all your armor and weapons are picked up by chance. Sometimes taken away as well. As was the case one round when Goblins came and stole my shield. Leaving me with just an axe to try and defeat a veritable army of bandits.
There literally isn't one BAD thing to say about the experience this game brings to the table. One can only nitpick at the few misspelled words, or similarities in Boss appearance. None of which diminish the shear enjoyment one gets from traversing the ever changing game board, unlocking new cards, and dodge rolling around trap-filled arenas with fire-breathing lizards, musket-toting skeletons, and kung-fu ratmen all hot on your tail.
At launch the game was 20 USD. It's since gone up to 25 USD. Would I recommend people wait for a sale to pick up what I'd describe as the biggest surprise in gaming since the early 2000s? No. A resounding NO! Go, buy it now. Play it, enjoy it. You're welcome!
It's such a good game, it's worthy of the meme, "Shut up and take my money"http://youtu.be/moxbxFrpYSo?list=PLFP2lSgrnK83QVkL1rerIAHKriEA3OhMV