It’s hard to believe that the Culdcept series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and that I hadn’t played one until now. Culdcept Revolt represents, by all accounts, a refinement of the gameplay found in the prior games and delivers another lengthy experience for Nintendo’s portable that refuses to die. If you’re like I was, completely oblivious to the franchise, then this review will be for you. If, however, you’re a weathered veteran who has proudly played each iteration, I won’t have much to offer in explaining what’s new and improved here. No matter the case, I’m having a fantastic time with it and think both newcomers and established players will want to give it a go.
At its core, Culdcept Revolt is a board game mixed with a collectible card game with a dramatic RPG storyline thrown in for good measure. The game borrows some ideas from Monopoly, where you roll the dice and move around a board landing on a colored square, which represents an element of that land. Much like the aforementioned game, if you place a creature card on that square it becomes your property. This means that when an opponent lands on your squares they will have to either have to pay the toll or battle you for ownership. If they initiate a battle and win, they will gain the square and won’t have to pay the fee. If they fail they not only lose a potentially valuable card from their deck, but also have to pay the fee. Generally the game continues on until one player hits the magic goal (referred to as G in the game) and crosses one of the checkmarks (think GO on the Monopoly board).
There’s a ton of strategy involved in the game, especially as you progress to more difficult boards. You see, if you land on an empty land, it’s advantageous to match the creature’s elemental power to the same color square. Some will not be able to be spawned on certain colors, whereas others will be fine on any section of the board. The more creatures you place on the same colored squares, the higher the chain count becomes, giving them more power. In addition, as part of your turn you can decide to upgrade your territory square (think placing hotels in Monopoly), which will raise the amount an opponent will have to pay if they land on it. Just like in any other game of this type, you have to spend money to make money, but if you ride your resources too thin and land on an enemy’s square and don’t have the funds to pay up, you’ll be forced to sell one of your squares off, so proper management of funds (G) is crucial.
A big part of the game’s appeal lies in its cards. If you’ve played games like Magic: The Gathering you’ll be right at home here. There are over 400 cards to find and collect and you can place them in your deck, which holds up to 50 cards. As you progress through the story you’ll unlock new cards. These can range from creature cards to special one-time use item cards to equipment, such as armor and weapons. Whenever you enter a battle, either by landing on an opponent’s square or vice versa, you’ll see a side by side of the two creatures entering the fight. Each side then has an opportunity to augment the battle by placing an additional item card down. So, for example, if the enemy you’re up against has 40 hit points and your creature only does 20 damage, you might want to give your creature a weapon, such as a sword or an axe, and increase the damage dealt. Or, maybe you’re worried you’ll lose your card because of low HP, so you might want to absorb the damage by wearing some chainmail or a helmet. You never know what card your opponent might add to seal your fate, so it can be a bit nerve wracking.
Since the criteria needed to win a match is the amount of G that you’ve amassed, it’s important to understand how you amass your fortunes. You do so in numerous ways, with the easiest being placing creatures on lands. To summon them you spend a small amount of G, but the more you own, the higher your total magic score rises. You can increase this by placing multiple monsters on same-colored tiles. Moving through gates and circling the board (making a lap) will also gain you more G. Fighting opponents’ creatures and stealing their square is a great way to earn G because your value will go up and theirs will decrease – a win-win situation! Also, when you spend G to level up your land your total magic will increase. Just don’t go too hog wild with spending G, because I did just that early on and almost got wiped out when I had a few bad rolls of the dice and had to pay fees, of which I had no G and had to sell almost every one of my squares – which is a huge disadvantage because all of my work went down the tubes.
As you might expect, Culdcept Revolt has a very Japanese anime look to its characters and creatures. The graphics in the game are pretty average, but it does use the 3D effect nicely in battles. The boards all change and have different paths to keep things fresh and exciting. The game does a great job of introducing new features and mechanics piece by piece so I never felt overwhelmed. After you’ve completed a quest you will be able to change your deck up and add or remove cards as you see fit. The battle animations are pretty basic, but they get the job done. The game’s audio was nothing special, but it wasn’t bad either. The music worked well, but little to no voice acting in the game was a bit of a bummer.
There are plenty of options available to players beyond the standard single player adventure aspect. You can play locally with up to four players, so if you have friends into this sort of game you can see who has the better deck and strategies. You can also take the battle online and even climb the leaderboard. With options like increasing the text speed and automating the computer-controlled characters (I wish I’d have discovered this earlier in my time playing the game), players should be able to customize their experience to their liking.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Culdcept Revolt. I was a bit apprehensive since the series has been around so long and I hadn’t ever played one before. Every once in a great while a game comes along and surprise me – in a good way, and that’s exactly what happened here. I found myself wanting to play just one more round, often staying up way later than I should have to finish. In fact, that’s probably my main concern – matches can take a bit too long, especially if you have some really bad luck with your dice rolls. Much like a game of Monopoly, Culdcept Revolt teeters on overstaying its welcome, but thankfully with the 3DS you can just close the lid and come back to it at your convenience. This is one of those games that could really use a free demo on the eShop to give potential buyers a taste of what to expect. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked after the first board!
Culdcept Revolt Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Culdcept Revolt merges collectible card games, board games, and RPG elements to create a strategic experience unlike anything else available on the 3DS. If you’re even mildly interested in the concept I highly urge you to give a try. You’ll probably be hooked for hours on end.