Previewed on PC

Card games have long been a stable of gaming: ever since 1993 when Magic the Gathering first appeared, virtual interpretations of physical trading card games have always remained an engaging niche in the gaming sphere.

During their long history, we’ve seen the rise of digital cards over paper ones, especially when games take a proven formula and add their own unique spins. The latest entry in the sea of virtual card games is Nowhere Prophet, developed by Sharkbomb Studios and published by Hypnospace Outlaw publisher No More Robots.

Nowhere Prophet introduces two unique spins on the card game formula: multiple decks and multi-lane combat. It’s also an FTL-like: while you’ll be fighting with cards, you’ll also have to manage a convoy full of people and supplies. Your adventure takes place over a node-based map, just like FTL, that will see you facing encounters with nearly every move you take. Along the way, managing your convoy’s food and hope will be a necessity; as you travel, both of these supplies will quickly deplete as the road wears on.

The encounters that you face along your journey won’t always be negative ones that crush your hope, some can be positive! A lot of encounters are also easily avoidable as you’re often given a choice on how to proceed using your wits. Similarly to FTL, again, you’re able to use specific convoy members to access certain choices within encounters, such as using a friendly beast to quell the anger of a feral horde.

Preview: Nowhere Prophet is a fresh take on the card game genre and we can't wait for more 1

Not every encounter can be resolved peacefully. Many counters will start, or ultimately end, with combat, With Each battle taking place over two-to-four lanes of tiles where you’ll be strategically placing units on either your frontline or backline. This grid-based structure makes the card play of Nowhere Prophet feel undeniably unique as unit positioning needs to be very carefully considered based on what units you’re facing.

You’ll also need to keep a close eye on what units you have included in your deck. In Nowhere Prophet, cards can become injured and destroyed in battle. If you don’t heal your deck, convoy members will be destroyed and can even become unusable if they die twice. Ever card choice is a risk, every mistake is a crushing moment, but it makes wins and scraping victories feel ever so rewarding. After a unit dies once, its use cost will also be reduced. Should you risk losing your card forever to win one match? That’s your choice to make.

Preview: Nowhere Prophet is a fresh take on the card game genre and we can't wait for more 2

During our preview, we were able to play through the entirety of first playable area. While being restricted to the opening areas did limit some of the options for deck construction, Nowhere Prophet shows an unprecedented degree of promise. When the full game launches with its five explorable areas, we’re sure that this limiting feeling will be entirely mitigated and we’ll be able to explore the full synergistic possibilities of this intense card game.

During our short time with the game, we already got a taste of the game’s dangerously inviting sense of replayability. While we only had access to one of the four playable prophets, the randomly generated areas of the game already had us coming back for more. It’s a game that card enthusiasts will easily pour hours into.

We also got the sense that Nowhere Prophet was a bit on the easy side, although cranking the difficulty up to its hardest option easily resolved that issue. Enemies in the first area are dramatically weaker than yourself on anything other than the hardest possible option; on normal, enemies offer little more than a walk in a very sandy park.

Preview: Nowhere Prophet is a fresh take on the card game genre and we can't wait for more 3

Thankfully, there is a boss fight at the end of the demo with a significantly stronger enemy. This gives a real taste of what’s to come in Nowhere Prophet and how you’ll need to adapt in the upcoming areas. Whilst it’s only one fight, you’ll need to carefully consider each move to find success. It’s a challenging and engaging fight that leaves us hungry for more.

If you’ve seen the trailer, which you can watch here, you’ll know just how good the game looks. It may not have the slickest battle animations, but its undeniable that Nowhere Prophet is aesthetically wonderful. The splashes of olour between a sea of desert oranges and reds create pitch-perfect atmosphere as you wander the wasteland towards salvation. One can only imagine how beautiful the rest of this game is going to look.

For as crowded as the card game market may be, Nowhere Prophet looks to be standing out as something truly enjoyable. If you’re looking out for a card game sometime in the future, this is one to keep your eyes on.

You can wishlist Nowhere Prophet on Steam here.

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