Pox Nora is one of the few strategy games I’ve played on a console. With the price tag of 0 dollars, I was intrigued and a little nervous. But after being surprised by more recent entries in the genre, and as a noob of the genre I figured it was worth a shot.
Pox Nora is a game you absolutely must play the tutorial for. I tried pulling the typical jump right in approach, and I did not have a good time. Even with the tutorial the game was intimidating and a little confusing, but with a mixture of what I picked up from the tutorial and previous similar titles I was able to piece it together. Pox Nora is a strategy game with virtual trading cards. The cards themselves are referred to as runes and serve as your warriors, equipment and the game’s collectibles. The goal of each encounter is to destroy your opponent’s Shrine (their main structure), before they get yours.
The battles themselves take place on a grid-like battlefield. Once In battle you must collect Nora, which essentially serve as action points. Which in turn, dictates how you summon warriors and use abilities. It plays on a turn based system and the game can be very unforgiving. It has a hell of a learning curve to the point where it can get a little boring as the battles can last up to an hour. Eventually I got the hang of it after multiple matches. However, I found after a few matches lasting upward of 40-50 minutes, that a lot of the time was spent frustrated trying to click the correct unit and having it do what I wanted. Rather than that time being gameplay time itself. Which probably makes Pox Nora feel like it is one of those games that is best played on a PC. It feels awkward navigating the game’s menus and grid with a controller as they were most likely ported over as is.
There are mini campaigns in which you can play for small story and lore, which is where I found all of my time spent. It has daily challenges which kept giving me an error, and a multiplayer mode which just would not work. It showed games in progress which led me to believe that people who were actually playing online were planned matches. On the 1 v 1 lists there is usually a handful of games going on, but the 2 v 2 room is nonexistent. There’s a queue system where I tried on 3 different days, both modes, one of which I let sit for half and hour and never got in to a match.
The menus in the game are painful to look at, and even more so the sound effects definitely show this is a very aged game. Now graphics won’t make or save a game, but overall presentation, look, and feel can certainly break it. In 2017 even for a free title this just simply will not do. I found myself disabling menu sounds as the repetitive clicking sound gave me a headache, and there was no background music to compliment it.
The in-game animations are clearly from a different time and don’t really do much in the way of immersing you into any battle. Pox Nora looks like it’s a game from the original StarCraft era. But it released just under a decade later. During a time where games such as StarCraft II and Fire Emblem have set standards, Pox Nora doesn’t do anything to build on what’s available. But then again, this is a game that’s been originally developed in a different decade and ported over. Everything about Pox Nora looks and feels like a game from the late 90’s.
Even making changes to your deck, due to the game implementing a cloud saving system ends up causes the game to stop and load. So if you make a mistake and need to go back, it’ll stop. Load. Each time. Which became a little irritating when trying to compare and edit cards. I let out a sigh of frustration whenever that loading bubble came up. Long story short, other than the card art the game isn’t particularly nice to look at, and the menus are frustrating and boring.
Free to play? Probably better to stay away. To be fair, Pox Nora has its appeal, but it only really seems to exist to serve the fans it has gathered over the years. Once I got the hang of it, the game was ok. The mechanics are solid and this clearly isn’t a game that was put together overnight. To put it in perspective, this is a game that was originally released in summer of 2006. Before the PlayStation 3, and it hasn’t really aged well. Visually anyway. The combination of that and the use of a controller, it’s a different time and if this review was for a launch title for the PS3 perhaps it would be a little different.
Pox Nora seems more like it was ported and marketed as a free to play and essentially a shot in the dark to grab players in hopes that it would be a cash cow with regards to this port. Even if you’re into tabletop games and hardcore strategy games, at a price tag of free, it’s hard to recommend it. Reason being that there’s another place to play this game and even then there’s probably better options on there to get your fix. At a time where the PlayStation 4 has a genuinely stacked library, it’s hard to figure out where this game fits. As a noob fan of the genre I can only say if you’re like me, you’re better off looking elsewhere.