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Are you ready to throw dices and take turns to see what fate has in store for you, Allen? Is basically the question Culdcept Revolt raises to the players all over the world now.
And thanks to NISA we were able to get quite the look into the game and its characters. You may have heard of the series already, though it’s not quite as known here in Europe as it is in the North America and especially Japan.
Culdcept Revolt is; as its predecessors, a board/card game of quite intriguing nature. Made by Omniya Soft, the series was first released back in 1997 on the SEGA Saturn and later 1999 on the PlayStation as well. It never made it stateside or to the EU, same goes for Culdcept Second on the Dreamcast. While the X360 received an entry as well Culdcept Saga only North America came into contact with it. We finally got lucky enough, thanks to NISA to receive the second 3DS game of it aka Culdcept Revolt, the first – again – was exclusive to Japan.
You may ask yourself, what the game actually is… if you’re not interested in looking it up yourself. Revolt is one of few games that manages to make some sort of balancing act between a card game like for example Yu-Gi-Oh! and Monopoly. It sounds crazy but it actually works, which is astounding. Imagine a board-game with monster take overs regarding territory.
Usually Culdcept’s story revolves around the goddess Culdra, who bestowed powers upon certain people, so called “Cepters”. The story then usually branches off into a war scenario or territorial battles and since there’s magic involved it usually takes a supernatural turn. In most Culdcept games story is only a secondary device to gameplay; though still, characterization and gameplay are key in “Revolt” for 3DS.
A man named Allen (name of the protagonist) suddenly awakes in an empty room, hearing a voice. This voice asks him who he is and where he came from, but all that springs to him immediately is his name.
Only a few play sessions later the voice turns out to be the leader of a certain rebel group in a city. While showing the player the ropes what they – as a Cepter – can do and what not, we learn that the city Allen landed in got closed off, due to some Count. And that Cepters all around the city are being killed left and right for whatever reason comes to mind.
Usually the lonesome, memory-lacking-main-character joins the group of outlaws right away and all fight their merry way to a happy ending. Allen however is different. While he is certainly grateful, he has no interest to join, since his current condition is far more of his concern. And so he tries to regain his memories, while walking into an unknown city consisting mostly consisting of enemies.
Naturally every bit of main story quest does give players insight of what’s happening around Allen and to that give additional fields, hints and rules for the board game part. It all seemed a bit simple in the beginning, but the introduction and execution of elements was handled very carefully.
Sidequests are also on board, just in case you want to earn more cash for booster packs. Those give you Spells, Monsters of different elements or Equipment cards. Players of the old Culdcept games will probably feel right at home since most card designs and rules are the same or similar to old ones.
This isn’t all sidequests do; they explain motivations and characteristics of all “Cepters” the player encounters and provide lots of character building for Allen himself as well.
Those who are not in it for the characters or the games world building are able to skip through most cutscenes and go straight into “boarding” elemental fields.
And once you finish the story or rather Quest Mode of the game, you are rewarded with a neat little extra for all your tenacity and effort.
At the beginning of the game, you will have next to no option in menus and regarding play styles, but that changes later on. 15-20 hours into the game, you can create whatever book you want. Books harbor spells, or basically any card you own in them, free for you to summon, if you draw the right one. The boards provide different layouts and all is put into the world of Culdcept Revolt within the plot, meaning only the partially animated backgrounds give prove that it’s actually there in this world/city. Other than that, each board consists of action panels like a market/tent/warp, spell ones, Monster panels in the colors of red, blue, green, neutral and yellow, and also last but not least lap panels. Like in monopoly, the latter ones are some kind of checkpoint that provide you with additional crystalized mana (GP) aka money.
Summoning Monsters costs exactly that of course, so does every action besides walking. Unlike other card games, the books in Revolt have a 50 cards limit. This means that players should choose carefully what to pack in it or just experiment the hell out of it.
Monsters or rather the corresponding element gets a bonus on tiles in form of more HP or STR when you summon, e.g. water to a water field and so forth. Players can even let monsters change fields, jump to the adjacent panel and use this to their strategic advantage, but at the cost of your turn and a certain amount of mone- er… mana.
While you naturally get more booster packs later on, all creatures and spells seem to be okay, even well balanced. At least every book that was created and tried out worked equally well (around 7 different ones).
The A.I. in Culdcept Revolt is quite interesting and challenging as well. You will hardly get bored, when you unlock certain characters to play with or against them. Especially not when those poor bastards take over your painstakingly upgraded field fortress, which could’ve net you 1200 mana in one go.
This also means the random factor is a bit of a pain and sometimes even extremely frustrating. That does not imply that it isn’t fun to play, it’s just a reminder that it’s not all sunshine and roses in the world of the Cepters.
In case you want to play with your friends, there’s an online and offline mode that will hopefully let you go all out against strangers and friends alike on release day.
All is underlined with an entertaining, and to our surprise not nerv-wrecking OST. The composer balanced the BGM out really well. It ranges from entertaining and weird tunes, which could very well be right out of Disgaea, to absolutely gorgeous battle tracks. The downside to this is: There was no option to mute or adjust different sounds. While sound effects and the like can be neat, the announcer voices in the game get annoying sometimes. Other than that even the sound is really well mixed and you won’t miss any effect or music while playing, even on fast.
The design and sprites are not only well made but downright charming. Everyone has their own set of movements and their very unique design. No wonder; none other than Nishimura Kinu worked on the character designs. And she did an outright perfect job portraying the characters feelings. That one is known for her lively and charming character illustrations; not only in Virtue’s Last Reward. The board structures have a huge variety and are (thanks to the elements) very colorful. At no point in the game did we tire to look at the animations, characters faces or card actions in the game. All artists who designed the cards for the game seemingly gave it their all to make them look stylish, while some might strike your fancy more than others, everything regarding Culdcept seems well made.
On the technical side (at least the review version) the game seems a bit lacking. While the sprites are a looker, the characters themselves are well written and the soundtrack hold entertaining value. The limit in options and features, especially for those who have a new 3DS, is a bit saddening.
You can’t change the button layout; settings don’t give you much besides turning multiplayer in-game chat on or off. And playing the game on the fastest mode is still slow; you can’t skip the texts the AI throws at you on the field, either. Even if you’ve read them already, because you’ve actually had a game over before, there was no way to turn them off in the review version.
There are times where we would’ve given hell to map the camera and field view to the n3DS nub, instead of pressing R, going to the map option every time just to then navigate to the corresponding monster on the map. Only for the reason to see the effects of monsters, in case we might step on a landmine by going a certain way.
Now regarding saving, the game will save for you, you cannot save manually. If you run out of battery while in the middle of a game, you’re out of luck entirely. There isn’t even a suspend/quick save option.
It’s translation in English seems to be well done. Most characters have been given a good treatment, so all seem unique in the way they talk with each other.
But there is the needle in the haystack: It seems to be English only. While the actual manual outside of the game sports most languages, the game itself remains English. It’s not difficult to read but most may be a bit taken aback by that fact.
Culdcept Revolt may sounds like some crazy card cult or the second coming of scientology at first, but it will probably fascinate interested people more than they could imagine. It is a charming, well animated sprite-package full of exciting and fun but also a few frustrating moments.
The lack of customization for the controls or sound/save options won’t hold the game or it’s fun back either.
Despite Culdcept Revolt being English only, it can glue you before your 3DS for around 20-30 hours to see its main story. Much more time is needed, if one actually wants to see it’s relatively ‘small’ world entirely. Just keep in mind that some characters are rather minor and might vanish out of sight after a few battles. The single player length and possibilities alone might give card game players and board game lovers reason enough to buy this.
In case you’re interested in looking into the world of Culdcept now, this is as good a start as any. Off you go with a pat on the back.
For all those who know 100% Orange Juice on Steam and are legitimately scared of its A.I. this is a much less masochistic approach for a virtual board game, and it’s portable!
There’s even a collector’s edition of it, for those who played the game this one is quite enticing. This one includes:
– a set of metal dices from the game
– the scrumptious artbook which holds Nishimura’s drawings
– foil copies of certain cards
– naturally the game itself
– the soundtrack.
Game Title: Culdcept Revolt
Release Date: 06.10.2017
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: NIS America
This game was provided by the publisher for review purposes, check our review policy for details.