Virtual trading card games are nothing new, nor are the genre mashups of trading cards and RTS. So, for Desert Owl Games’ turn-based, tabletop-inspired strategy game Pox Nora to truly stand out from the “been there, done that” crowd, it’d have to do something truly special with its console release. Unfortunately, it falls short.
As you log into Pox Nora for the first time, you are greeted with the standard options: tutorial (highly recommended), single player, multiplayer, skirmish, etc. Once you’ve gone through the tutorial and learned the ropes, you’re released into the great big world of battling. Or not, since there are a couple of options for single player battles to help you get the feel of things.
The whole point of each battle is to capture the Nora fonts, deploy your cards, and destroy the enemy shrine before they have a chance to destroy yours. Again, a standard gameplay, but Pox Nora does add in a few new elements with AP use/conservation strategies and “scrying.” Luckily, if you’ve ever played this type of game before, you will pick up this game’s style very quickly. Even if you haven’t, the tutorial will give you everything you need to be successful.
While this is not a tutorial, I do want to point out one tip that helped me immensely. My first impressions of this game were not good because I found it impossible to get anywhere. In this, the daily dashboard is helpful. When you log in each day, you will see two daily skirmishes which typically give a few hundred gold each – which is necessary for getting new (better) cards to build a stronger deck. As with any trading card game, chances are your stock deck is going to get beaten down pretty quickly and often, so you’ll want to start customizing it with new cards as soon as you can.
There are a lot of elements to keep in balance, which means there are lots of different strategies and playstyles that can develop. This is a little redeeming because it means you can truly make Pox Nora your own, and there are plenty of forums and tutorial sites to keep you trying out new strategies for a long time! Those familiar with other trading card games will understand that you can have different deck styles – and each has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on what your opponent is using.
Of course, Pox Nora is not a new game. It has been available on PC for years, but has only this year moved over to PS4. This, like most ports, is both good and bad. The good thing is that current fans will have no trouble picking the game up on console, and new players get the chance to play with the already-established fanbase.
I am also happy to report that the constant freezing and crashing issues I had on PC don’t seem to happen on the PS4. In fact, I had several hours of smooth playtime – something I’d pretty much never experienced on Pox Nora before. The only downsides are the controls are a bit more difficult to master on PS4, and there haven’t been any additions or real changes so anyone looking for new excitement in the game will be disappointed.
Overall, I think if you are already a fan of Pox Nora, you will love it on PS4. If you’ve never played it before and are looking for a good dose of nostalgic gameplay, give it a try. The best news is that it’s free to play! Those looking for innovation in mechanics, graphics, or anything else, however, may want to try something else.
This review is based on retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.