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Leap of Fate Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Much like Hand of Fate one year ago, Leap of Fate caught me off guard. It's an intoxicatingly addictive dual-stick shooter that mashes together board games and roguelikes. While none of its parts are especially original, the clever execution and super-powered characters make this a must-own action game. Rating: 78%
Leap of Fate
Leap of Fate Leap of Fate Leap of Fate Leap of Fate
  • Review Score:

  • B+
By mixing third-person action and card collecting, Hand of Fate managed to be one of the few games that genuinely surprised me last year. It seemed so simple, yet I spent an absurd amount of time getting to know the nameless card dealer and his dry sense of humor. I came out of the review hoping for more games just like it. Little did I know that developer Clever Plays was prepping Leap of Fate, a similarly titled game that takes everything I liked about Hand of Fate and mashes it into a devilishly addictive dual-stick shooter.

Not to be confused with the Steve Martin movie Leap of Faith, Leap of Fate is a cyberpunk action game that mixes elements from board games and roguelikes. You choose between four characters, each with a rich back story and super power. They have been pushed to the shadows, forced to fight hordes of futuristic enemies in the Crucible of Fates. This sends them on a mission to battle through dozens of bite-sized levels and defeat a series of deadly boss creatures.

The four characters are led through the Crucible by a well-dressed man with an eyeball for a head, a spitting image of The Residents' lead violinist. The chapters are randomly generated through the scattering of playing cards, each setting up a different battle our hero needs to win in order to advance. Eventually, we run into one of the game's many bosses, which is the only thing standing between you and the next hand.

Leap of Fate starts out like a straight-forward dual-stick shooter, but it won't take long to see what sets this game apart from all the Geometry Wars clones filling up Steam. Beyond simply attacking in all directions, our hero can pull off something the game calls "Shadow Walking." This allows the player to literally warp all over the stage, usually to the confusion of the enemies. This is just the first glimpse we get at what makes these characters so difficult to apprehend.

Like a lot of role-playing games, Leap of Fate has us leveling up the fighter in an effort to give them new skills and perks. We start out with the basic attacks, but it won't take long to unlock and buy all kinds of upgrades. Each character has their own tech trees, which include everything from adding more health to engineering new attacks. Depending on how you allocate the points, you'll be able to slow down time with each shadow walk, levitate over the ground and even create spinning orbs that shoot homing missiles.

Leap of Fate (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

But don't forget, this is a roguelike. You don't have unlimited lives and continues; once you die, you start over from the beginning. This means it's back to leveling up, beating bosses, buying items and making your way through the randomly generated Crucible of Fates. The good news is that completing challenges will unlock perks that will maintain no matter how many times you die. Completing these challenges is also the way to unlock the extra characters and their stories, so you'll spend a lot of time killing enemies in different ways trying to meet goals.

It definitely helps that the four characters are unique in both looks and combat. Aeon, for example, shoots long-range energy beams, while Mukai is limited to powerful short-range swipes. These differences extend into the secondary attacks, as well as the way each character shadow walks. Sometimes the differences are even more subtle than that, as is the case with Rasimov, who buys items through sacrificing his health. There are some interesting balancing choices made in Leap of Fate.

Although none of the pieces are especially original, mashing them together has created a fresh and exciting take on the dual-stick shooter genre. It's fun specking the characters in different ways to see all of the variations, and the moment the game started to feel repetitive, I moved on to the next hero. Best of all, there are a lot of levels and extras to unlock, so you definitely won't see everything in the first go.

Leap of Fate (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, the game's simplistic overhead visuals don't convey just how exciting the action is. The environments change and we're introduced to a whole bunch of new enemies, but it's never as flashy as other dual-stick shooters. Perhaps that's because it doesn't need to. The excitement doesn't come from groundbreaking graphics and particle effects, but rather the very real danger that your run could end at any second. That said, I do wish the boss fights were a little more epic.

On a similar note, I also hoped for a little more from Leap of Fate's card game structure. I love the way it creates a path using flipped-over cards, but it's a shame there isn't more variety in the options. While there are several odd cards mixed into the deck, it often feels like you're only uncovering the typical combat stages. Hand of Fate took this idea a little further, and it benefited because of it.

Apart from these minor issues, I was genuinely surprised by how much fun I had in Leap of Fate. With so many dual-stick shooters on the market, games need to go the extra length to add something new and fresh to the festivities. This one does that, and more. Between the character-specific super powers and the randomness of the levels, I found myself losing hours of the day hooked on completing every task and unlocking all of the extras. This is an action-packed thrill ride that takes the genre in an exciting new direction.
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