It would appear that card based game are like buses. I’d gone years and not played them, and suddenly both Deep Sky Derelicts and now Nowhere Prophet come across my desk to review. Both card based, both have you traversing a world map and both set in a future timeline, but with major differences in the setting. Whereas Deep Sky Derelicts is much more sci-fi based, Nowhere Prophet is much more dystopian.
Into the Chaos
Lets start with the basics – Nowhere Prophet provides an excellent user experience, far and away better than most indie games I’ve played. The graphics are crisp and gorgeous, the menus are always clear and the menus and when you encounter a random event, you have a nice image with some flavour text and it’s clear what steps you need to take next. There are actually a surprising amount of different encounters you can run into as well, and there does always seem to be a way that you can proceed without having to fight, for the most part. There are a few bosses that are unavoidable, or some people that just don’t respond how you’d think they would, but on the whole you can play Nowhere Prophet how you like.
The main thing that sets Nowhere Prophet apart from other card based games is the considerations you have to make in your play style. If you’re a bit too gung-ho, you’ll lose all your followers and fail at your quest across the wasteland. If you’re a bit more tactical in thinking and try to talk your way out of situations you may well avoid battle, but you’ll also be giving up the potential of items. It’s all about treading that fine line. Occasionally you’ll have to suck it up and fail with your attempts and force your weary crew into battle, but when you do manage to evade battle then you feel great. Especially when avoiding it means your crew gets to live to fight another day.
It may be that I was spoiled with Deep Sky Derelicts. The maps you explore there are vast and at times, deadly. In Nowhere Prophet the maps are still deadly, but with much less room to explore. Often there may only be a few different paths that all lead you towards the same end goal. Some will be safer than others, and some will get you better loot. It’s just a little simple when compared to other offerings.
The AI of the opponents is another slightly negative aspect to Nowhere Prophet as well. While it does a pretty fair job for newbies, once you’ve got your head around the mechanics it does feel that the AI make a number of mistakes as they play. I don’t know whether this is to make the game a bit easier, but it does seem an odd choice. What makes it even stranger is that the bosses can occasionally have ridiculously high HP and armour, which lengthens battles considerably, especially when compared to what you’ve been facing up to that point. Perhaps it was a ‘bodge’ to cater for the lack of a good AI, but it doesn’t really strike me as a very good balance.
The Final Word
Nowhere Prophet does have some nifty features, and some great artwork, but it still feels mildly disappointing. An improvement on the AI would certainly make the game a lot more fun, as it’s a little dumb at the moment. If the developers do manage to enhance it, then I would say Nowhere Prophet can be a very good game, but as it is, it’s just another middle of the road, card based game.