Being a prophet for a cybernetic off-world entity is absolutely exhausting. I mean, you’re placed into a crusade for knowledge and understanding, followers join you, and (let’s be honest) they are a bit needy, requiring things like food and praise. Let’s not even talk about all of the obstacles in your path either; bandits, hunkered down forts, rogue combat machines, and loads of shady people all litter your journey. So, what if all of that was tossed into a roguelike card-based game featuring unique combat mechanics and set in a dystopian, semi-cyberpunk theme? Well, Nowhere Prophet is the game that would emerge.
Nowhere Prophet is an amalgamation of genres and gameplay mechanics first and foremost. At a high level, the game is a roguelike, where your death (the prophet) is permanent and considered game over, forcing you to start again. More importantly, the game is also a deck builder, in which your deck is comprised of your faithful followers that decide to join you on your travels for the thirst of knowledge and truth. Lastly, the game’s story and narrative arcs come primarily in the form of a choose-your-own-adventure style of progression. As we talk more about this title, try to think of it as a combination of games like Slay the Spire and Void Bastards.
The story sets us up as a newfound prophet that has encountered a cybernetic otherworldly entity who has placed us on a path for understanding and truth. Almost immediately, you’re approached by followers, and your journey begins. For me, this was just the right amount of premise to kick off a game like this, and made me excited to dive into the procedural map that was now available. Seeing waypoint markers of varying degrees in front of me, such as rest points, marketplaces, stronger battles, and larger milestones at the end of the subset of my map, I selected my first point and my caravan set off. It didn’t take long for my first narrative encounter to happen in which bandits were attacking another caravan. Would I choose to aid the fellow travelers, ignore the situation, or aid the attackers? These are the types of encounters and choices I found myself constantly inundated with constantly in the wastelands. The larger milestones at the end of the map sections contain boss fights and transition points for the game, which leads us to the combat.
Being a prophet, you’re allowed a maximum of 24 followers in your ‘deck’ that can be brought into a battle. Beyond the 24, any additional followers will go into a reserve. The really fantastic part about the follower/deck-building system is the variety of abilities each follower can have that do truly influence the strategy of combat. There’s a lot of well-balanced mechanics here that made for some fun attack phases. The combat map is akin to a lane-based system typically found in mobile games, but it’s a bit more semi-open. You’ll select follower cards and place them onto these available map spots. At first, they will have summoning sickness, meaning they can’t do anything in most cases when first brought out. For fans of Magic: The Gathering, and other Collectible Card Games, this will be very familiar too. Battles are turn-based between you and your foe. Choosing when to attack the AI opponent, versus their own summoned minions is a crucial strategy, and honestly, I was really impressed by how much depth a battle could have. Dealing with on-field obstacles, managing your followers and their abilities, and throwing in your own prophet ability cards into the fray, created fun and hectic battles time and time again for me.
Another great element that ties this game back into a roguelike nature is that your followers can be entirely killed off. Should you find yourself in combat and one of them is killed, the first time they are knocked out of battle means they are exhausted, and are a bit less effective. Should they be killed off in another battle before being healed, you’ll permanently lose that card. I loved this mechanic as it created a bit more meta deck building experience in determining who I could risk at any given point entering a new encounter. Really, the combined mechanics of Nowhere Prophet create a fairly deep strategic experience blended with the push your luck fun of many roguelikes.
In terms of overall progression and modes, there’s a surprising amount in this category as well. The campaign offers three levels of difficulty, and there are two additional modes that can be unlocked, with the prerequisite that you reach certain milestones in the campaign. You’ll unlock a Custom Game option, allowing you to set rules, and also a Daily Challenge, where all players are given an identical map and modifiers and compete in a scoring run. These modes are certainly fun to expand the game content for those who have mastered the main campaign.
Additionally, by reaching certain milestones or objectives, you’ll unlock new content to start a new game with as well. Starting anew, you’ll be presented with the deck selection and prophet selection screen. Here you can select different starting follower groups for your convoy that allow for certain perks, as well as selecting the prophet and their abilities you want for a new campaign run. This mix and match system allows for high level introductory strategy, and is a staple for the core gameplay here. I found myself excited when I could push further in a campaign, and would unlock a new prophet to start over with and see how they would play out.
The game is presented with a nice unique 2d stylization with a lot of high contrasting solid-form graphics. This art style creates a bold look for the game, and with muted color tones, it certainly links up nicely to a post-apocalyptic setting with an injected cyberpunk theme. Everything is as legible as I would hope even playing on handheld mode, and I never found myself stumbling through UI/UX which is always a delightful treat with a card-based game.
Nowhere Prophet brings a lot to the table. Fans of Slay the Spire, along with other action-based deck building games are going to find a lot of fun here. There’s a lot of variety, strategy, and replayability, with just the right amount of challenge to tackle. I can safely say that being a post-apocalyptic prophet certainly is an interesting way to play a game for an afternoon.
Nowhere Prophet Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 8.5/108.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Nowhere Prophet brings deck building and a unique turn-based combat system into the roguelike genre complete with slick visuals, and accessible controls that add to the straightforward game mechanics. There’s a ton of strategy to be had with each run, and the risk/reward elements tied into the narrative driven choose-your-own-adventure choices make for an incredibly engaging experience with every start of a new game.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.