There have been a lot of card-based battlers in recent years, with it sometimes feeling like every franchise needs to have a multiplayer collectible card game spin-off like Hearthstone or Gwent. Nowhere Prophet, cuts against the grain as both a brand new creation and a single player adventure influenced by Indian cultural tones including artwork and religion.
No run of Nowehere Prophet is ever the same due to randomly generated maps that you have to navigate with your leader and convoy. Every step you take could result in triumph or ruin depending on how well your deck is balanced and how powerful your opponent is. You are warned that there will be a lot of failed runs as you get used to the game, and that eventual success will be hard-earned.
You start off with the leader card Prophet and a standard deck, with more leader cards and decks becoming available as you make progress. Each card represents a member of your convoy, and you want that number to increase as you go forward to deal with issues that arise while crossing this post-apocalyptic wasteland. Most of these situations will result in a fight against a different faction, and it will be your convoy that fights.
When you find yourself in battle, you start with three convoy cards and two leaders, which you can choose to replace before locking in to fight. Who goes first depends on the scenario, with the aim being to reduce the Leader’s health to zero. It’s not as easy as it sounds due to the different card abilities that can come into play. One such ability is Taunt where enemies can only attack that card until it is destroyed, while Robust cards will only be destroyed if they cannot be pushed back a row, making them a right pain to deal with. Some cards will also have Fury abilities that activate when drawn or when destroyed, an example being dealing damage to all cards other cards when drawn, be it friend or foe.
Finding the right balance is key and as you move through the world you’ll have opportunities to recruit new members to the convoy and find leader gear that can add armour, increase attack and defence of convoy cards, and so on. But they’re not permanent additions; if a card is destroyed once in battle it will become wounded, and if destroyed a second time in battle, it will be lost forever. That’s all the more painful when they’ve earned the Blessed trait from destroying an enemy leader card.
Cards can also be lost on the road as different scenarios play out. A hazard could see the loss of a card or one of your convoy may be caught stealing, forcing you have to decide whether to forgive them, exile them, or wound them. Your choices matter as you’ll earn different types of character points from your actions, with a higher Altruistic stat, for example, impacting how your convoy will be perceived. In addition, you’ll need to gather resources like batteries and food just to keep your convoy going. Batteries act as the game’s currency and can be used to buy goods such as food and gear, or be used to pay bribes and tolls to proceed. You’ll also get luxury goods during travels which can raise the convoy’s hope and encoourage them to continue following your leader. Luxury items can also grant bonuses for the next upcoming battle, but only one is effective at a time.
Nowhere Prophet is always keeping you on your toes and never truly lets up. When convoy members and leaders are wounded you’ll anxiously hope that the map has a resting point nearby where they can be healed. Other times you’ll simply feel elated after beating a particularly tough battle or distraught after losing a reliable follower. There are a couple of issues with the balance as some runs ending on the first match because of how tough the cards you’re up against can be. Further along, one particular boss battle that seemed almost impossible to defeat due to their ability to gain armour for every single card that you destroyed. You are warned that things will be tough, but that’s taking the biscuit!
Nowhere Prophet is heavily inspired by Indian influences, feeding into the design of characters, their names and the way the world itself is set up. Some areas you pas through are controlled by a Raj, while there are also religious areas that worship gods based on figures from Indian folklore and the Hindu pantheon. The music too has that Indian kind of twang to it thanks to instrumentation that comes from the subcontinent. It all comes together very well in a fantastic looking and sounding package.