Developed by Sharkbomb Studios and published by No More Robots, Nowhere Prophet is a card-based strategy game where you as the prophet need to lead your people through the broken world for a chance of a better life. So, you will need to think carefully and play your cards right if you are going to survive the adventure. Although it is quite graphically simple, and the audio is quite standard, it doesn’t devalue the game and helps you focus more on its gameplay and strategy
The world of Soma is in ruins and everyone has very little hope for a better future. You see a large machine fly past, and are then spoken to by said machine which told you of a crypt that could hold the key to a better future. Others watched as the machine spoke to you and saw you as their prophet, becoming your followers. Now you must lead them across perilous paths whilst maintaining the food and hope for your camp as you progress. You can pick from different routes and make tough decisions; these may involve some gambling to get some rewards that you may desperately need to survive. There are many others who wish to fight you, either for your resources or because they just generally don’t like you, and so you need to keep your followers fed and rested to fend off all-comers.
The gameplay comes in 3 part; camp maintenance, gambling/decision making and the card battles. As you traverse through the route every movement you make consumes food and hope, and should either of these fall too low it will spell the beginning of the end for the camp. So, you need to make sure you keep your food stocks high by making decisions that lead to food, fighting enemies in the hope to loot for food, or trading for food.
Hope operates in a similar way to food, but is gained by making the right decisions, sharing luxury items that you have looted from enemies, or trading for luxury items. You also have to keep the camp rested so as to have enough followers to fight for you in battle. If one of your followers is felled in battle, then they become injured. If they then get defeated again, they are gone for good. You can have a maximum of 24 followers in your deck at one time, and it’s good to keep it full. If you run low or out of followers, then you won’t stand a chance in battle. You can accrue followers by making certain decisions on your travels, usually involving parting with food, trading for followers at markets, and sometimes certain battles can lead to gaining followers.
The decision-making part of the game – although not the major part – is very key to your survival. As you travel from point to point on the map, you will constantly face tricky decisions. You are sometimes told of the risk factor of a certain decision, like inspecting an abandoned building. The high-risk decisions can lead to big rewards but can also lead to serious injuries to your camp, or even a very tough battle. On other occasions, you need to pay batteries – the currency of Nowhere Prophet – or give up some of your food on a gamble of a reward. There are spots on the map where it mentions you will get a higher chance of food or being able to rest, and so plotting your path has to be well thought out.
The card battles are where you ultimately succeed or fail. If you succeed, you can reap the spoils but if you fail, then it’s game over and all progress is lost. Every battle needs to be taken seriously and the way this card battle is set out is quite unique. It’s not a carbon copy of other card battle games, but a fresh take which borrows elements from many sources.
You take it in turns and all cards have an energy cost to them to use. The player who goes first starts with 3 energy points with which to play something from their hand. Then every turn after that the energy goes up by one, allowing more, or stronger, cards to be played. You have your attacker cards called the Convoy, and Leader cards which your prophet uses to influence the battle. The first to take all the health points of the other leader wins the battle.
There are a lot of strategies involved here with regards to positioning, the obstacles on the battleground, the risk of losing an injured follower and the pressure of losing the battle and having to start all the game all over again. You gain more cards to use as you level up your leader and also as you accumulate more followers. You can also come across equipment for the leader which can help you gain an edge in battle. It is always important to inspect your deck and equipment to give you the best shot of winning the fight with little or no casualties.
At first, when I was playing the game the choice system seemed quite standard. The story seems peripheral but it still interesting to read all the different interactions. The game forces you to play selfishly at times and although you want to be good, sometimes you just can’t afford to spare food for starving passers-by as the food is more valuable than any reward. There is a lot of variety depending on the leader/prophet you choose and the followers you start with. There is more that can be unlocked as you play through, but each has its pros and cons – some might suit your strategy better than others.
There is some variety in the maps as well so you are not constantly doing the same things, although some of the interactions seem to reoccur on your second or third outcome. That’s not usually a problem, but I expected the outcome to be random and each time it wasn’t although I may have just been unfortunate. There is also a difficulty setting you can play with, but I would suggest taking it easy on your first couple of guys as the AI is relentlessly mean spirited and sometimes suspiciously lucky. By that I mean you think you have the upper hand but somehow the AI has just the right cards to suddenly turn the table.
I used to be a fan and casual player of Magic: The Gathering many years ago, and that experience was very valuable in playing Nowhere Prophet. For those who enjoy card-based battlers like Yu-Gi-Oh or Gwent then this is a decent game which incorporates an interesting storyline, a simple well-executed survival element, and a refreshing take on the card-battling genre. It stays in the sweet zone of complexity to not scare off newcomers and shouldn’t bore the hardcore card battlers. I thought this game was a bit too difficult when I first played but I managed to get to grips with the elements in short time, making the journey that bit easier.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.