Author's Note: This is the second part to a two-part retrospective on The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate. If you missed the first episode, here's a link:
If you enjoy this blog and would like to read my other adventure game retrospectives, here's a list of my previous episodes of this series:
- Episode 1: The Dig
- Episode 2: Atlantis: The Lost Tales
- Episode 3: Loom
- Episode 4: Drowned God
- Episode 5a: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Part 1 & Episode 5b: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Part 2
- Episode 6: The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime
- Episode 7a: The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time (Part 1)&Episode 7b: The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time (Part 2)
- Episode 8a: The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time (Part 1) & Episode 8B: The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time (Part 2)
- Episode 9a: The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One [Part 1] & Episode 9b: The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One [Part 2]
- Episode 10: D (The Game)
The Weird Racist Section On The Boat
Using A Magnet To Throw Off The Ship's Navigation - [Rating: 2/10] - When we left, Zanthia was boarding a ship for what she assumed would be heading for Volcania, the entry point for the center of Kyrandia. However, after talking to the captain once the boat departs, she discovers it is running in a different direction. The following sequence is a timed mission, and if you do not fix the ship's course within a specific amount of time, Zanthia will die. The good news is that adjusting the ship's auto-pilot is as simple as putting Zanthia's magnetized horseshoe in a coil of rope next to the navigational system and forcing it to pivot towards Volcania. The seamen throw Zanthia overboard when the ship arrives, and the game transitions to the next scene.
This puzzle is straightforward, and there's not much to discuss on the difficulty front. The time limit can be frustrating, but in your first playthrough, simply interacting with the seamen provides enough hints about the auto-pilot being the crux of the sequence. As such, I cannot imagine someone not figuring this out independently. I like to think of the ship sequence in The Longest Journey as an homage to this short bit in Hand of Fate. Unfortunately, I also need to discuss what happens if you fail to figure things out within the time limit. In that case, Zanthia is transported to Mustard Island, which we discover is populated by natives that also happen to be cannibals. Hand of Fate is a 1993 release, and the native people look EXACTLY LIKE YOU ARE PROBABLY THINKING IN YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW! It's an incredibly off-putting moment and another reminder of the need for greater diversity in the games industry.
Collecting A Bunch Of Seashells - [Rating: 3/10] - If you recall from the previous episode, you may remember my several hints about Volcania being the most hated portion of this game. I stand by that, even if I understand and appreciate the game's intent. With Volcania, Hand of Fate hits you with every expected joke about the grind of bureaucracy and, in particular, the United States Department of Motor Vehicles (i.e., DMV). Even if you don't live in the United States, most of these jokes hold weight because they are generalized enough spoofs of usual bureaucratic and government silliness. The problem with this tomfoolery is that it comes at the expense of fun, as the game needs you to circle a loop on the island, picking up seashells to exchange for different trinkets. You'll also need to pick up two heavy rocks, a stick, and a random empty flask while you explore the island if you have any hope of finishing the game. The rocks are important because, when Zanthia attempts to travel into the core of the planet, she realizes she needs something to weigh her down and if she lacks the two large rocks, the steam vents will shoot her back out to the island exterior.
The primary quest givers on Volcania each have a MacGuffin that Zanthia requires before she can make the trek into the planet's center. Each quest-giver asks for one or two of three possible currency types on the island (i.e., starfishes, sand dollars, and seashells) and these items spawn randomly on the island. What is incredibly annoying is that the game will cease spawning certain shell types after you have picked up an unspecified amount. Worse, you need more space in your inventory for everything the various quest-givers will ask of you during this level than the game provides. So, you can't circle the island once, pick everything up, and complete the level. Instead, you'll need to pick up what you can and, upon talking to someone who asks for something you lack, circle around the island another time. You'll need to do this several times before you complete the level, and it fucking sucks! Like I repeatedly said in the previous episode, this part of the game isn't by any stretch of the word "hard," but it is unnecessarily tedious and annoying.
Getting A Leather Folio - [Rating: 1/10] - While Zanthia navigates Volcania, one of the first people she encounters is a man sitting on a red couch. This person, who perfectly embodies the "Casanova Wannabe" trope, offers to provide a folio about the island and how to reach the center of the planet for two starfish. When you oblige, he hands over the pamphlet without any fuss though his attempts to hit on Zanthia are what you'd expect. Again, I cannot fault the game designers too much for what they did with Volcania. The game tells you exactly what you need to collect and how much. That said, it's just not a fun process, even if the game is shooting at all cylinders with the quality of its writing. You can also use the leather folio to create the red Flying Shoe Potion, but this potion is optional. To see the Easter Egg involving this potion, mix the folio, bottled steam from a vent, and a quill in the cauldron and see what happens when you apply the final brew to Zanthia.
The Department Of Anchor Guidance - [Rating: 6/10] - The big culminating set piece with Volcania involves a parody of the American DMV, called the "Department Of Anchor Guidance." The department blocks access to the inner cave system that leads to the legendary anchor Zanthia needs to acquire to stop the world from ending. And yet, hilariously, the department refuses to break from its bureaucratic protocol. The first clerk Zanthia encounters requires four regular seashells to complete the first form Zanthia needs to fill out, but when she attempts to complete the second step, the clerk states she will need to stand behind a yellow line and wait for a different attendant. After clicking at him for two whole minutes, this clerk arrives and requests four sand dollars, and when you try to move to the third and final step, she states the previous clerk is the only person who can complete that step, and you will need to wait. He'll ask for four starfish, by the way! Again, the issue is NOT that the game is challenging, confusing, or unclear with its intentions. The problem is that when you find a new attendant and need more of their requested currency, you must loop around the island again and deal with the same overwrought dialogue whenever you try to talk to them.
Getting Registration To Use An Air Vent - [Rating: 5/10] - This might be a weird sequencing glitch, but I have never had to do this activity in my two playthroughs. After completing the last step with the department attendants, I immediately jump into a steam vent and don't have any issues. However, near the Department Of Anchor Guidance is an elderly couple, and they run one of the steam vents that lead to the caves below. They first request six sand dollars and then six starfishes. Both demands are the steepest amounts you will find on the whole island and require two circuits searching for the needed materials. As with everything on the island, I applaud the designers for clarifying their volitions. Also, the back-and-forth dialogue between the characters is genuinely funny and well done. Nevertheless, the execution of this sequence is no goddamn fun to play. The words "Are you fucking kidding me?" and "FUCKING AGAIN?!" escaped my mouth during this bit, and some permutation will likely escape yours as well if you play Hand of Fate.
The Lava Cave
Needing To Pick Up A Bunch Of Shit At The Lava Cave - [Rating: 4/10] - When Zanthia uses a steam vent to reach the lava cave, she'll lose most of her inventory items and need to scrounge for resources before properly continuing her journey. From her starting position, pick up a starfish, a heavy rock, and a lump of lead before continuing to her left. Pick up an empty flask and pay note of a giant dinosaur guarding a passageway. From here, move Zanthia right one screen and cross a bridge to see another big dinosaur. Pick up a stick, another lump of lead, "Crystal Fuzz" from a crystal tree, and another heavy rock. Starting a new level with an item collection mini-quest is every Kyrandia game's "jam," and that's no different here.
There are two quibbles worth addressing in this area. First, the lava cave is an incredibly "busy" environment. Telling apart what portions of the foreground or background are explorable or interactable is unclear. I always need to remember to click on the crystal tree to pick up the crystal fuzz because the tree is a random background texture that looks the same as other trees you have seen countless times before. However, the more significant issue is that beginning with Volcania, Hand of Fate ceases to utilize its open-world template. Instead, it has a particular set of steps you need to complete before moving forward. If you decide to explore the cave, and all subsequent levels, in whatever order you please, you'll end up running into a ton of red herrings that will confuse the fuck out of you if you are not careful. Nonetheless, this particular sequence isn't that bad, considering the number of explorable levels is minute.
Making The Teddy Bear Spell - [Rating: 7/10] - It's time to brew a new potion, but this one is one of the few recipes you have from the start of the game. From where you picked up all of the random shit from earlier, move Zanthia up one screen. On this screen, Zanthia should be in front of a stegosaurus behaving like a dog. Before you mess around with this dinosaur, locate and pick up a rock shaped like a heart. Use the Alchemist's Magnet on this rock to turn this into a golden heart. Now, return to the dinosaur and use the stick from earlier to play a game of fetch with it. Eventually, the dinosaur will run into a wall and cause a stone to fall and plug a steam vent, which causes a different one to blow steam strong enough to push Zanthia to the cave's roof. When she steps on this steam vent, she automatically picks up two pebbles, and upon examining them, they are identified as looking like the eyes of a toy. That's your hint to make the "Teddy Bear Potion," which requires crystal fuzz, a golden heart, and two pebbles. Putting these three objects into the cauldron allows you to bottle the potion in a flask, and using the bottled elixir on Zanthia provides her with a teddy bear.
Some of the potions I have relayed in this retrospective are "technically" optional but highly recommended, given an upcoming puzzle near the end of the game. The teddy bear spell is a required spell, but the game does a terrible job of communicating why that is the case. When you decide to hop on the T-Rex, Zanthia uses the teddy bear to keep the beast moving forward, but you don't simply use the potion or toy on the dinosaur. Instead, you have Zanthia hop on the reptile and she automatically applies the toy without your input. Furthermore, the lava cave doesn't in and of itself do a lot to direct you that it is a stepping stone towards making this spell. However, I think the "tell" when you pick up the two pebbles is decent enough, and this feels like a logical point to make a new potion after a reasonably long break. Likewise, at least you only need three ingredients for this one.
Getting Into The Chamber Of The Anchor - [Rating: 2/10] - It's time to return to that T-Rex! Use one of the ledges to hop on its back and go for a short joyride. After the ride comes to a stop, a part of Zanthia's dress will rip and allow her to pick up an article of red cloth. When you return to the dinosaur guarding the door, you can use this cloth to matador the beast into the door, knock it out, and smash the door open. However, the dinosaur must be facing the correct direction, in this case, facing the door, which could require you to leave and return. Figuring out to use the red cloth with the triceratops isn't that large of a leap, and the route the T-Rex takes places Zanthia one screen away from them, which is a pretty clever hint the two are connected. Besides the randomness of the last step regarding the direction of the triceratops, this was one of the lava cave's more straightforward puzzles.
Getting Out Of The Lava Cave - [Rating: 6/10] - Congratulations! You have finally reached the planet's center and can pick up a legendary "Anchor Stone!" However, Marko uses a teleport to tell Zanthia that the problem with the world is NOT the Anchor Stone and, instead, the "Wheel of Fate." Before you exit the main chamber, remember to have Zanthia pick up a new page of her potion book and an Anchor Stone from the pile in front of her. Equally important is an overactive steam vent. Have her use one of the heavy rocks on the duct to plug it. When you exit the room, you will notice how the middle pool of lava is gyrating and shaking more than before you entered the anchor room. What you need to do next is use the various heavy rocks in the cave to block the active steam vents to cause this lava pool to jettison Zanthia out of the cave. These ducts are spread across the cave, and so are the rocks.
After filling the first vent, the fastest route I found was to move right, pick up the second rock, see the second vent, use the rock on it, move right again, find another stone, locate the vent, use the stone on it, move up to the dog dinosaur, and fill the final vent with the last boulder. Luckily, the rocks are almost always next to the vents you use them on or on the same screen. However, the initial hint that using the rocks on the vents is how you trigger the lava pool is a bit on the abstract side. All the game provides is a single environmental clue that you have done something to move Zanthia to the next level, and that's not enough. That's doubly the case considering using the rocks in the first place is in no way connected to everything you have done up to this point.
The Enchanted Forest
Getting Rid Of The Knight That Guards The Bridge - [Rating: 8/10] - We now transition to one of the most substantial set pieces in the game. The Enchanted Forest is a visual tour de force and one of the trickier playing sequences, especially regarding its final big culminating potion-based puzzle. Right from the rip, the starting level presents the initial gimmick of its petrified forest, preventing Zanthia from moving forward. To deal with that, she'll need to find a way to calm the forest down. To do that, pick up a pinecone and then examine a hole Zanthia created when she was shot into the woods from the cave. The crater provides a flask, and upon moving left, Zanthia will find a bridge guarded by a knight. The knight does not murder Zanthia if she tries to get around him, but he's steadfast about rebuking her attempts to move past him. However, there's a TON of random shit you need to pick up at the bridge before continuing. That includes twigs next to the bridge, two patches of moss from a gopher hole, a walnut from a spot on the left side of the bridge, and a rolling stone animating next to the gopher hole.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! You also need to notice snow on the bridge and collect some of it. The snowball is your clue that it is time to make another concoction from Zanthia's potion book and, in this case, the "Snowman, Regular Spell." However, one of the ingredients calls for charcoal, and to make that return Zanthia to the Petrified Forest. You should be able to find a black rock that Zanthia identifies as flint, and using the twigs on it along with the rolling stone creates charcoal. You now have the three necessary ingredients for making a snowman: moss, charcoal, and snow. Throw everything into the cauldron, bottle the final brew, and use the potion on the knight to scare him away.
Talk about a "rough" first impression! Not only are almost ALL of the items you need to collect here incredibly fiddly and obtusely hidden, but the way you go about using them isn't any better. Some of these items are four to six screens removed from where you use them. For example, the nuts you pick up need to be used on a squirrel, but that's a few loading screens away. Likewise, this set piece might be the worst feeling pixel hunt in the series. At least the rolling stone animates, but the holes with the moss and walnut are minuscule and virtually impossible to find unless you know what you are doing or plan to click every iota of the screen! It is frustrating to play because you feel like there are more efficient paths for the designers to take.
Helping Two Wizards Catch A Giant Foot - [Rating: 3/10] - When you get past the knight, Zanthia will enter a meadow involving two wizards chasing after a gigantic foot. Have Zanthia examine a sizable statue to the left, and she will identify it as being made of lead. As with any object made of lead, it's time for her to whip out her magnet and turn it into gold. This action allows her to open a box at the statue's base. The receptacle contains a toy drum and a set of jacks. There's also an acorn to grab near a tree, but Zanthia needs to use the jacks to stop the chase sequence. Doing so causes the foot to trip and the wizards to deploy a net. They relay that it is a missing body part of a legendary villainous mage from many years ago and that the last of his remaining body parts is his hand. This puzzle is more of a segue for a significant lore dump than anything else. The statue is a focal point, and when Zanthia identified it as made of lead, I knew what to do because everything made of lead in the game needs to be transformed into gold. The hitbox for the foot is mercifully generous, and the jacks are the only logical items to slow it down.
Using The Tram Station - [Rating: 6/10] - After a brief chat with the kind wizards, it is time to return to the petrified forest. When Zanthia uses the toy drum on the frightened trees, it plays music that finally calms their nerves. Upon walking past the trees, Zanthia will find an anthropomorphic squirrel operating a ski lift. Unfortunately for her, the second she attempts to use the ride, the squirrel goes on his lunch break. He will not even allow Zanthia to use the tram station on her own, citing "safety protocols." To get him to turn the other cheek, use the pinecone, acorn, and walnut on him. He'll agree to depart but still leaves the lift non-operational. To change that, use the rolling stone on the wheel the squirrel was running on, and it will begin to lurch forward. Zanthia can now hop on one of the chairs to reach the top of the mountain.
This puzzle is one of the more shameless "gear checks" in the game. You either have the items required to solve the problem or don't. The good news is that the squirrel is pretty shameless about wanting a bribe and being hungry, and if you have at least one of the required nuts, that's enough to clue you into knowing that you need to find more until the lift operator is satisfied. The issue here is how the game hides some of the objects. Again, the walnut in a small alcove on a ledge is the most egregious example. The hole that contains the walnut is a scant percent of the screen it occupies, and you would never consider clicking on it unless you knew what you were looking for in the first place. In the end, this puzzle is the culmination of a bunch of pixel-hunting-based gameplay traps, and I wouldn't say I liked it the first time, and I wouldn't say I liked it here.
Stealing A Bunch Of Shit At The Tram Station - [Rating: 3/10] - WHAT DID I SAY?! When a Legend of Kyrandia game gives you a new location, odds are, you will start things off in that location, gathering a bunch of shit! When the ski lift drops Zanthia at the top of the snow-capped mountain, she will notice a mother caring for a toddler and a lodge with two grumpy hunters. From a nearby hut, pick up a feather duster and broom. After talking to the mother and her toddler, collect a ball of snow next to them. Upon entering the lodge and getting no help from the hunters, nab an empty potion flask from a shelf and a bottle of musk from a mounted animal head. Finally, collect three cannonballs from the lodge and use Zanthia's alchemist magnet to turn them into gold. I have to be entirely honest with you. While I do grouse about old habits dying hard, this is one of the least annoying collectible hunts in the game. The environment is limited to three possible locations (i.e., the hut, ski lift exit, and hunter's lodge), which means figuring out what Zanthia needs is pretty easy, and putting two and two together is just as simple. The one tricky item here is the musk hidden in the mounted animal head, but you can also see an outline of sorts when you look closely at it.
Making The "Snowman, Abominable Potion" - [Rating: 5/10] - There are only a few remaining potions to concoct. Given this is a snow-themed environment and the hunters were complete jerks to Zanthia, it's time to scare the shit out of them by transforming Zanthia into a yeti. To accomplish this, hand one of the golden cannonballs to the mother so you can nab their baby's lollipop while they are distracted. This candy is the last ingredient to the abominable snowman potion, which also requires snow, musk, and a feather duster. When you put these ingredients in the cauldron and bottle it, using the potion and entering the lodge as a transformed Zanthia result in a horny male yeti kidnapping Zanthia rather than scaring away the hunters.
Now, you might be thinking that knowing to make the potion is the hardest part, but you would be wrong. When Zanthia talks to the hunters, they are complete pricks, and Zanthia muses how she wishes to teach them a lesson and pontificates if she has a spell in her book capable of doing that. There are only a few spells left, and one of the remaining few you have yet to make has "Abominable Snowman" in its title, and this level is the proverbial snow level. That's good enough for me! The oddly tricky step involves the mother and her baby's lollipop. The potion calls for some form of candy, but it isn't exactly clear what the mother wants in place of her child's lollipop, and a gold cannonball isn't exactly something I would have placed on the top of my list of things to give her, either.
Escaping The Yeti's Lair - [Rating: 5/10] - Zanthia now finds herself in the lair of a yeti that wants to have sex with her because jokes about sexual assault are super funny. Nonetheless, the first thing Zanthia needs to do is explore her surroundings and find ingredients for another abominable snowman potion, though she will need to make some substitutions. This includes using the yeti's cologne instead of musk and a box of chocolates instead of a lollipop. You'll also need to collect feathers from a nearby pillow and find an empty flask on a wine shelf. For the snow-based portion of the tonic, leave the yeti's abode, find three icicles on the ground, and collect all of them. Put the box of chocolates, cologne, feathers, and an icicle in the cauldron, and it should allow Zanthia to bottle a new monstrous brew, but avoid using it for now. Use the remaining icicles to ascend an ice wall outside of the cave. The yeti will catch Zanthia, but if she leaves the cave once more, the hunters from earlier should spawn, and if you use the potion on them, they will turn into yetis and attract the monster's attention instead of Zanthia. Use the icicles once more to climb the wall, and you should be free.
Much like the tram section, the game limiting you to two screens means it's far easier to figure out what you need to do and what items you need to collect. Also, I enjoy the game forcing you to identify substitutions for ingredients you recently used to make the same potion. It's a clever segment slightly sabotaged by the finale. Much like previous environmental collectibles, the icicles are not sign-posted enough to the player as clickable options, and needing to use the ice wall twice is an odd red herring. Additionally, it would help if you noticed the timing element of this puzzle when trying to use the potion on the hunters. You have a short window to apply the tonic before they run away. Likewise, their hitbox was incredibly fiddly and far smaller than I thought it should have been. Finally, I cannot end this puzzle review without highlighting how this sequence makes light of sexual assault. The joke of this puzzle is that a yeti wants to have sex with Zanthia, and despite her telling the yeti that she is not interested, she needs to solve her situation by throwing the yeti on two other unwitting hunters. That's the joke. When you get to the end credits montage, those same two hunters even say at the end, "Let'snever talk about this ever again," with the implication being the yeti had their way with them, and isn't that "HILARIOUS!"
The Rainbow Machine Tree - [Rating: 10/10] - After dealing with the yeti and hunters, Zanthia can finally climb the ice wall using the icicles and will eventually find a small cabin. When she enters this cabin, she will find an elaborate set of lights hanging from a den of thorns. Zanthia calls it a "Rainbow Machine" and muses that it should provide a path to the Wheel of Fate if the hanging lights are filled with the correct liquids. The game requires you to use a shelf to create a set of potions that emulate a rainbow in the lights above. The required colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The good news is that Zanthia's completed potion book has six of these seven colors, and the shelf provides an unlimited supply of ingredients. When you fill the hanging lights with the correct colors, the rainbow machine will create a rainbow bridge to the next and final destination in the game. If you want a list of every potion you need to brew and what they require, here you go:
- Red Potion - Flying Shoes Spell: Hot Air, Quill, and Leather Folio Book
- Orange Potion - Sandwich Spell: Mustard, Lettuce, Ground Grain, and Cheese
- Yellow Potion - Abominable Snowman Spell: Snowball, Musk, Feathers, and Lollipop
- Green Potion - Swampsnake Spell: Gnarly Bark, Sulphur, Onion, Reptile Tears, Stool, and Hot Water
- Blue Potion - Teddy Bear Spell: Crystal Fuzz, Lead Heart (YOU STILL NEED TO USE THE MAGNET TO TURN THIS INTO GOLD), and Teddy Bear Eyes
- Indigo Potion - : Amethyst and Blueberry
- Violet Potion - Skeptic Spell: Upside-down Horseshoe, Candy Impression of a Rabbit's Foot, Sweet and Sour Sauce, and Reptile Tears
I am more open-minded about adventure games having at least one puzzle that pushes their audience's limits. In theory, the rainbow machine is an appropriate capstone to Hand of Fate. It forces players to apply everything they know about its core mechanic (i.e., potion-making) and then some. Where I start to push back is how the machine requires a handful of ancillary potions whose recipes have been sitting in Zanthia's alchemy book and have never been used up to this point. It is such a bizarre choice by the programming team. If you are going to take the time to put them in the game, why not have them factor in at least ONCE in the story? Even if you decide to use a guide, which I strongly recommend, this puzzle is so involved that it becomes tiresome. The shelf has a directional interface to change the ingredients on the screen that controls unlike any else in the game. Also, some potions are far more complex than others, which is endlessly frustrating.
However, what ultimately boosts this to my highest mark has to be the indigo potion. This potion might only require two ingredients, but it has no in-game spell associated with it and is something you need to figure out through pure trial and error. That's right! And I'm not joking. I checked five guides and all of them said there's no part in the game when it tells you what to use to make the indigo potion. You don't even get a hint on how many ingredients it will require, and with the range jumping between two to six, that is game design malfeasance! I'm sorry, but this puzzle is utter and complete horseshit.
The Wheel Of Fate
Entering The Building With The Wheel Of Fate - [Rating: 2/10] - Zanthia is now in the final leg of her journey. After a quick skirmish with the evil hand, Zanthia finds herself at the entrance to the Wheel of Fate, but the door remains closed, and there's a beam of light in front of it that will incinerate any who try to open it. To fix that problem, use Zanthia's Alchemist's Magnet to turn the dish that is creating the beam into lead. With the pillar of light gone, Zanthia should be able to open the door. You can easily track the beam to its source, and when Zanthia notes it is a golden dish causing it, you should know what that means. Only some puzzles in this game warrant multiple paragraphs; this is NOT one of them.
Playing An Inverted Version Of Tower of Hanoi - [Rating: 6/10] - Upon entering the room containing the Wheel of Fate, Zanthia can explore the main gear room in the upper left and discover something is missing. If she returns to the entrance and then goes to an exit to the upper right, she will see the physical "Wheels of Fate," which happen to be an inverted Tower of Hanoi. There are three statues at the base of the cylinders, and when you place all of the pieces underneath them, their mouth will open and bestow an item. The starting statue has nothing as it defaults to being open, but the player needs to move the circles under the other two figures to collect a stick and gear. With these two items, Zanthia can return to the gear room, repair the main machine, and trigger the final scene. I seem to recall @voidburger making this point on Twitter, but a Tower of Hanoi puzzle is the ultimate sign of "giving up" in an adventure game. It's either that or tangram puzzles. A Tower of Hanoi puzzle is a "solved" riddle, and there's little anyone can add to deviate from the well-documented logic to solve it. What I find especially heinous in this case is how the game forces you to complete the puzzle TWICE! That alone warrants me bumping it up a point above the average.
Defeating The Hand - [Rating: 5/10] - After opening the red and blue computer console, use the stick to place the gear into the slot missing a piece. After Zanthia gets the Wheel of Fate up and running, the Hand appears and challenges Zanthia to a fight. For the first phase, jump to the left to avoid them crushing Zanthia. Next, repeat this action before quickly clicking on the boss to defeat them. Unless you interact with everything in the game, this might be your first run-in with a "Game Over" screen, as failing to take note of the Hand's cues results in instant death. As you might expect, the timing for some of these actions is incredibly tight. The best way to describe how I feel about this puzzle is to ask you to imagine a game you really enjoy having its final boss be a quick time event. That is basically what this fight with the Hand is, and that, combined with watching Zanthia give Marko a smooch, has always left a bad taste in my mouth. It's still a great game, but it ends poorly.
Should You Play The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate? [Answer: Absolutely!]
I mentioned it in the previous episode, but do not let the wildly disparate puzzle scores or constant grousing on my part dissuade you from playing The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate. The game is the walking embodiment of being more than the sum of its parts. Even with the many screencaps I have provided in my past two write-ups, I still have not done the game justice. Hand of Fate's writing is a master class of comedic storytelling, and Zanthia is a criminally underappreciated but strong female protagonist. The genuine appeal of Hand of Fate does not stem from processing its puzzles or brain teasers. The absolute joy of playing this game comes from exploring new environments and NPCs and finding every possible line of dialogue there is to be had. And while there are some stumbling points to be had on that front, the game punches at its weight class when you consider it was released alongside King's Quest VI and Sam & Max Hit the Road. And if you enjoyed those two games, Hand of Fate is an easy recommendation.
Unfortunately, Hand of Fate's flaws defined much of my retrospective. The series generally has an issue with relying on red herrings or leaps of logic that only make sense if you are the developer. Its contemporaries were guilty of the same game design sin, but Hand of Fate takes things further with constant collet-a-thons and pixel hunts defining large swaths of its gameplay. There are a non-zero number of times when your capacity to solve a puzzle depends on your ability to click on a random pixel in the background, and I know that is only some people's cup of tea. It still deserves much credit for streamlining the unnecessary steps endemic to most pixel-based adventure games of this generation by relying entirely on mouse-click-based gameplay. Furthermore, there are no "unwinnable scenarios" to worry about if you explore a new environment out of order or complete puzzles differently than me. However, much of it still reeks of an era the industry has thankfully moved beyond in the last decade.
However, Hand of Fate is still more approachable than it might first appear. It is a scant four to five-hour experience, which at the time, drew criticism from most publications for not being long enough to justify its entry price. Today, its breezy pace and low barrier of entry are a relief. When you compare Hand of Fate to its predecessor, you have a better grasp of Westwood's adventure game division, going through the motions and finding its identity. Unfortunately, Hand of Fate is a bit of an aberration considering all of the progress it made would be discarded in the third game, The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge. However, we will talk about that game another time.