Culdcept Revolt - 3DS Review

It’s all in the cards

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: NIS America
  • Developer: Omiyasoft
  • Release Date: October 3rd, 2017 (NA)

Who it Caters to

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Culdcept originally got started in 1997 on the Sega Saturn in Japan, but Western audiences didn’t get to experience the series until 2003 when it released on the Playstation 2. While it wasn’t a smash hit, Culdcept managed to develop a small but devout cult following who were struck by its unique blending of board and card-based gameplay. These are two genres that are heavily criticized for their over-reliance on luck, but somehow, putting the two genres together managed to balance out the luck factor since it was more about playing what was given to you rather than left up to the whims of Lady Luck. Culdcept turned out to make enough of a splash that it got an Xbox 360 exclusive sequel in 2006 in Japan, and then later found its way to America in 2008. This was especially exciting for fans of the original’s multiplayer mode due to the addition of online play.

After Culdcept Saga, though, the franchise disappeared overseas. But Omiyasoft kept the series alive in Japan, releasing versions for the DS, PSP, and even Playstation 3. This was frustrating for Western fans who were still hungry for more but didn’t know Japanese nor could reliably import new releases. Demand grew so high that fans even started putting out their own fan-translated cartridges of the DS game. As luck would have it, Nintendo seemingly noticed the series’ devout fandom and ended up publishing Culdcept Revolt themselves for the 3DS. Now, NISA has finally brought over the most recent entry to finally give Western fans that new entry they’ve so craved for the past nine years.

What to Expect

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The best way to describe Culdcept would be Monopoly, if Monopoly gave you a reliable means of getting out of paying when you land on another person’s property. Before even entering a game, though, you’ll need to assemble a deck like you would in Magic the Gathering or the Pokemon Trading Card game. You’ll use these cards for effectively any action you would make on the board. If you land on a property, you’ll place a monster card on the area to claim it as your own. If you land on someone else’s property, you can use a monster card to fight your way out of having pay up. You can even use other cards to enhance your own fighter’s stats, but keep in mind your opponent will have that same opportunity to defend their land with their own cards, so you’ll need to plan out your strategy before you even engage.

The goal of each match is to build up enough “magic” (coyly measured with a “G”) and then make it back to one of the several home spaces located across one of Culdcept’s many different board layouts. It’s based on overall wealth and value rather than just what you have on hand, however. In order to build up your worth, you’ll need to buy up as many properties as possible and invest your spending magic in them. That way, when an opponent lands on your space, you’ll be able to steal away their magic for yourself. However, you’ll need to strategically think through which land you’ll need to buy, as the monsters you have in your deck have a color that corresponds to the color of the property and will gain bonuses if they’re played on a space of the same color.

Culdcept Revolt – Nintendo 3DS trailer:


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One day, a man wakes up in a mysterious void with no memory of who he is and no idea of what is going on. A strange, distant voice explains to him his powers as a Cepter (i.e. how you play the game), guides him through this void, and then reveals herself to be a gorgeous woman. Her name is Alicia, and she leads a rebel group called the Free Bats. Their goal? To escape the city they’re locked within. See, the ruler of the city, Count Kraniss has sealed off the town from the outside world and is mercilessly hunting down all the Cepters who reside within. The Free Bats will have to be careful as they sneak around town hiding from the Count’s minions, who are powerful Cepters in their own right. However, you, playing as the mysterious man (canon name: Allen), aren’t terribly concerned with their plight. Instead, you’ll explore the city in an attempt to regain your own memories.

We’re not going to lie: the world of Culdcept doesn’t make a lot of sense. The game does attempt to tell a serious tale with quite a bit of character growth for each of its central characters and detailed character backgrounds, but a lot of that is undermined by how the game of Culdcept doesn’t quite fit within the context of its world. It’s not a bad story, mind you: it’s briskly paced and actually has some surprising twists along the way, but just keep in mind that it’s ultimately there to keep the player invested in the gameplay. It can be an engaging plot, but it can also be a bit distracting early on in the game when it feels like they could substitute the “Culdcept” gameplay with anything else and it wouldn’t make too much of a difference.


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Culdcept Revolt largely works due to the breadth of its options in the course of a single game. It’d be very easy to pin a bad roll or a poor hand solely on how these mechanics are based on luck, but that wouldn’t be entirely fair. In addition to just the core mechanics detailed earlier, you have a wealth of other options you can perform in a single turn in exchange for another option. Do you have an overabundance of weapons in your hand and a property smack dab in the middle of a large area that a single opponent owns? Don’t just sit on them! Send your guy over into their land, claim it for your own, and ruin their property bonus for having so many of the same color! Have a “Move 1” space spell sitting around in your hand, and your enemy is right next to one of your own properties? Cast it on them and then at the end of your turn build up that land so they have to pay out the nose for it! Bad rolls and draws are going to come, no doubt, and the above strategies aren’t always going to work, but with as flexible as the system is, it’s more about learning to work with the hand you’re given rather than it being entirely the luck of the draw.

Plus, since you build your deck before each match, it’s not as if you should be having too many poor draws to begin with. Each different monster will have unique properties in addition to their normal HP and Strength stats. Some automatically attack first, some block attacks from certain colors of monsters, some score critical hits when given a certain type of item, and so forth. The card-building system in this regard provides a system of checks and balances to the property management system; you need to build a deck based on how you want to play, while accounting for bad rolls. It instills just enough doubt in your mind so that you can’t always just say “Well if I hadn’t gotten that bad roll…” or “If I had just drawn this card…”. You need to understand when you should be saving cards and when you should use them right away. It’s random, but for the most part it still feels pretty fair.

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There are some extremely frustrating exceptions to this rule, though. There are certain monster cards of which the effects are completely random. As defensive cards, these are perfectly fine because their chaotic nature makes you think twice about going up against them. But this is not always the case. The most egregious example of this is Baldanders, whose special property is that so long as it’s alive, it will transform into a completely different monster entirely at random. Baldanders can be played as an invading card, so if someone lands on your space, they play Baldanders, and it turns them into a monster that just so happens to be the perfect counter of your defending monster when you have almost no means to defend against it. It’s an extreme example, but Baldanders isn’t the only card with this kind of random attribute, and it belittles the otherwise very carefully balanced property management and card game systems.

All of this might seem a bit overwhelming, but surprisingly, Culdcept Revolt does a fairly decent job introducing concepts slowly to you throughout the course of play. This is partially because the rules of Culdcept are heavily influenced by Monopoly, so it’s effectively building on top of that already familiar base. The rules to the card game are inherently simple as well (simply pit a card against your opponent’s card, and if your strength is higher than their HP and you attack before they do, you win), so it’s mainly a matter of keeping track of everyone’s cards and their properties. It’s actually much less complicated than it seems.

However, if you really need to be eased into the game, Culdcept Revolt does offer a handy guidance arrow system, where it will place an arrow over a recommended action for you to take. This serves as a double-edge sword; on one hand, this does make the game significantly easier to get into because you never have to really worry about your own moves. However, this also effectively puts the game on auto-pilot, as all you end up doing is simply following the directions that the game gives you. From what we played, there didn’t appear to be any disadvantage from having this on. We won the same amount of money (used for buying in-game card packs to build your decks) for winning a campaign match, we still earned achievements, and we seemingly got the same amount of XP. The game is fun when you’re trying to figure it out, and it’s nice that the guidance arrow is at least optional, but at the same time the single-player campaign is hurt by its presence since there’s no apparent reward for not using it nor a punishment for using it.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

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If you’re looking for a unique handheld multiplayer game to share with a friend, Culdcept Revolt is a blast, assuming you’ve got someone who’s willing to learn the ins-and-outs of the mechanics along with you. It is, for the most part, a well-balanced board game. You can even extend this to an online mode and go head-to-head with other players. If you’re looking for a mostly single-player experience, Culdcept might still be a fun choice just due to the sheer quirkiness of its core game, but the randomness of some of the monsters make it a difficult recommendation considering how long matches can take and how you need to take first place in a mission in order to advance the story. The mechanics simply don’t lend themselves well to a story-driven game

As a side note, we HIGHLY recommend you bump up the turn speed as soon as you can in the game settings. The default speed is almost unbearably slow.

Honey's Pros:

  • Rich and satisfying tactical gameplay that successfully blends two different genres
  • Appealing artwork
  • Meaty single player campaign that’ll occupy hours of your time
  • Great multiplayer if you’ve got someone who’s willing to learn along with you

Honey's Cons:

  • Certain monster mechanics rely a bit too heavily on luck
  • Mechanics don’t actually lend themselves well to a big single-player campaign

Honey's Final Verdict:

Culdcept Revolt will only appeal to a very specific niche audience, but for the ones it does appeal to, it’ll be one of the top in the genre. Even if you’re unsure and are just looking for something new, though, Culdcept Revolt is easy enough to learn, and has enough content that it’s possibly worth the investment. Just be prepared for a lot of frustration if you don’t want to just rely on the guidance arrows.

Any advice for newcomers? Please, let us know in the comments below!

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Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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