Game Review | Culdcept Revolt (3DS)

  • TITLE: Culdcept Revolt
  • DEVELOPER: Omiya Soft
  • PUBLISHER: NIS America
  • GENRE: Strategy / Board Game
  • PLATFORM: Nintendo 3DS/2DS
  • RELEASE DATE: October 3, 2017
  • PRICE: $39.99 USD

Culdcept Revolt is a new strategy RPG for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems from Omiya Soft and NIS America.  The game is the latest release in a series that has only been partially localized outside of Japan, so don’t feel bad if you aren’t too familiar with the Culdcept franchise. Revolt‘s release comes in time to celebrate the series’s 20th anniversary, with the original Culdcept for the Sega Saturn having been released in October of 1997.

The story of Culdcept Revolt revolves around a young man named Allen who is discovered unconscious and without any memories by an underground group of rebels known as the Free Bats. Celphas, the city in which they live, has been sealed off from the outside world by its bloodthirsty ruler Count Kraniss. Kraniss has been on a mission to solidify his power by destroying any enemy Cepters (those who can control the magical cards of Culdcept) found within its walls. The Free Bats, naturally, are in opposition of this though they are torn in how they should deal with him (some wish to flee the city while it’s also proposed that they defeat the Count and free his people).

Although Allen has no memories of who he was, he seems to possess the powers of a Cepter. However, the members of the Free Bats are skeptical of him and want him to prove his worth. In fact, the first few scenarios of the game involve the group’s leader, Alicia, teaching Allen (and thus the player) the basics of being a Cepter while at the same time evaluating his abilities.

The general flow of Culdcept Revolt‘s single-player campaign involves various series of scenarios grouped together into quests. Each scenario generally begins with a storytelling scene followed by the main round of Cepter combat. Then, upon successful completion of the battle, another story sequence will unfold and then the player will be presented with the results of the round.

The best way I can describe this game to the uninitiated would be to say that it feels like what would happen if you combined Monopoly with Magic: The Gathering. The goal of each match is to attain a certain amount of total magic (ex. 7000G) and make it to the nearest gate before your opponent. The match takes place on a board of varying shapes that consists of gates (essentially checkpoints) with elemental tile spaces between them. When a turn begins, you’ll automatically draw a card from your deck (more on this later) and then have the option to use a skill or go ahead and roll the dice. Once you move to the designated space you’ll then be given the option of placing a creature from your deck, managing a territory (space) that you control, or ending your turn. The spaces come in four different flavors: Red (fire), Green (Earth), Yellow (Air), and Blue (Water). When it comes to owning a space, all you have to do is place any valid creature on it. Creatures also come in elemental flavors, and although you can put a creature that isn’t attuned to the space’s specific element on that space, you’ll receive a boon for matching the correct creature with the correct space. Also, some creatures may be unable to be placed on a given element while others are neutral and are not limited by elemental restrictions (though they also won’t receive any bonuses either!).

When you pass through one of the gates on the playing field you will gain a small magic bonus and when you go through all of the gates, thus completing a lap of the board, you’ll gain a lap bonus (kind of like “Passing Go” in Monopoly). One key difference from Monopoly though is that your lap bonus is bolstered by how many territories you control at the time of passing through the final gate. If you control a lot of territories, you’ll get a fairly significant bonus. Also, since you can increase the level of each territory, higher level territories will yield a greater bonus upon lap completion.

Each space that you control is afforded a “Toll” value. This means that when an enemy player lands on your space, if they lose a battle with your creature or if they choose not to fight at all, they will have to pay a toll from their magic points. Higher level territories will have a harsher magic toll they will need to pay.

When the player lands on an enemy-controlled territory they will have to decide if they wish to battle the enemy creature with a creature from their current hand or if they want to go ahead and pay the toll. This is certainly where a bit of strategy factors in. If the territory is low-level and the player does not wish to risk one of their cards in an attempt to take over the space, paying the toll won’t be a big deal. However, if they have a creature that is up to the task, defeating the enemy creature will not only make them not have to pay the toll, but it will give them control of the space. However, if their creature is defeated, not only will they lose that creature from their hand but they will still have to pay that territory’s toll.

As alluded to, your deck of cards you play with have a major impact on how the game may unfold. Your deck (which you can customize as you gain new cards) comes with a total of 60 cards for you to use. When a turn begins, if you have any skill cards you’ll be able to use them before you roll your dice. There are a ton of different skill cards out there, such as one that allows you to draw two extra cards that turn, one that adds another die to your roll, one that gives you a bonus of mana (magic points/G) based on how many laps you’ve completed at that time, and some that control the exact outcome of your next roll (or, if you wish, your enemy’s next roll).

Creatures, much like in Magic: The Gathering, can be either common, uncommon, or very rare. They come in varying strengths and with different skills and elemental attunements. As mentioned earlier, it’s worth giving some thought to which creature you wish to use at a given territory, but early on in a match you may opt for controlling a space at any cost. After all, you can later swap a creature out at a space or even change that specific space’s element for a magic cost. When deciding on whether you wish to capture an enemy’s space, the game will let you know how your creatures fare against theirs. However, even if all your creatures are weaker than or, at best, an even match for theirs, you can also use various equipment cards to increase your attack power. When defending a space you can also use equipment that will boost up your creature’s HP. You should keep in mind, though, that your opponent can do this too, so even if you think their creature is weaker than yours they might use an item in combat that turns the tide in their favor.

Finally, you’ll want to pay attention to your Territory Command menu when you get the opportunity so that you can level up your terrain (increasing tolls for enemy players as well as end-of-lap bonuses), move a creature (and challenge an enemy creature), swap a creature out, or even change a space’s element.

The game’s story is enjoyable and the characters feel alive and engaging. Overall, everything works to keep things flowing between matches. I also found the game’s soundtrack to be very pleasant to listen to. One of the things I worried about given how long some of the matches can carry on for was that the songs might eventually get monotonous, but thankfully the songs fit the mood perfectly and they change out as the match progresses, keeping things fresh. In fact, I think the game has a rather excellent soundtrack and I do hope that they make the OST available for purchase at some point!

Culdcept Revolt also features an online multiplayer experience, though as of this review I have not taken a look at it. If this changes I may very well return and update this review with my thoughts!

All-in-all, though, I find Culdcept Revolt to be an enjoyable strategy RPG that marries a card-based experience with a board game setting. It manages to set all of this against an interesting world that manages to pull you in with its characters and lore. The game is also deceptively challenging, too: underestimate its depth and you’ll quickly find yourself losing matches! It may seem simple on the surface at first but I promise you that there’s a lot going on once you take more time to get to know the game.

Ultimately, this is a very good game that strategy enthusiasts and RPG fans alike should consider adding to their 3DS libraries!

Jessica Brown

Retro Games and Technology Editor. She'll beat pretty much every Mega Man game without breaking a sweat.
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