The Culdcept series returns in Culdcept Revolt
The Culdcept series has made a triumphant return to the 3DS with Culdcept Revolt, the first new title since the PS2 era. Having little to no working knowledge of the series myself, I was nervous at undergoing the task of playing this title. Not quite CCG, yet not quite board game, Culdcept Revolt is just about the strangest and yet most charming synthesis of these two genres I may have ever seen in a non-analog form. For first timers to this series, like myself, don’t let this fool you. Culdcept Revolt can be as dirty as it is deadly, where any singular move can make the difference between an overwhelming victory and a choking defeat.
You will play as Allen. Well, realistically, you’ll play as a character that you name yourself. It’s been really weird playing a Culdcept with an eight pack named “Beth” but you get over it really quickly. Anyway, Allen, or Beth, or whatever you name your main protagonist, wakes up without any memories of himself save for his name. With no one and nothing nearby, a disembodied voice reveals itself to teach him, and by proxy the player, what it means to be a Ceptor. It’s pretty crucial to pay attention here as the basics of the game are explained in these next handful of tutorials – known as “stages”. The setup here will basically be what Culdcept Revolt looks like for the duration of the game.
The Story Thus Far…
Once the tutorial section is finished, Allen meets Alicia. Turns out it was is actually Alicia who has been training you on how to be a Ceptor, running you through the exercises in hopes that Allen’s memories might return to him. Alas, they do not, but she extends to him an invite to join the local freedom fighters group called the Free Bats.
Naming standards being what they are, Allen is naturally wary. Nevertheless Alicia takes Allen to their hideout where he meets Yuma, Gen, Tenet, and Sych. These four, and yourself now, make up the aforementioned freedom fighting group. Their goal isn’t quite so lofty however. Instead of working to take down the Count and free the city of Celphas, Alicia and her friends are instead set on escaping the city. This is easier said than done because the city is on lockdown, and apparently has been for quite some time. This is because Count Kraniss wants them all destroyed…minus the ones under his employ, of course.
With the arrival of a city-wide festival, Alicia and the Free Bats arrange to escape the city, but are thwarted by some of the Count’s men. Alicia ultimately loses her life in the fight, having been ambushed unexpectedly. Now leaderless, the Free Bats struggle to maintain a grasp of their ideals and each other.
Allen, meanwhile, is having none of this and openly announces that he is leaving to find out who he really is. Naturally the younger members of the team are dismayed at this, but ultimately cannot make him stay. Allen leaves the Free Bats and sets out on his own, but he’s not free of them yet by a long shot.
With Friends Like These…
Despite the fact that Allen and the Free Bats are at least pseudo working toward a common goal, players will be fighting against their allies as much as they will their enemies. Between Yuma, who straight up doesn’t trust Allen, Tenet who wants to convert Allen, or Gen who just wants to duel for the fun of it, it’s a wonder Allen gets anything done. More so, it’s a wonder that the Free Bats have lasted as long as they have.
Large chunks of your main stages are going to be filled with fluff battles and narratives that can get pretty frustrating. Most of these story tidbits were listed above. It’s fine at first as newcomers such as myself appreciate the experience, but one begins to feel like there’s not a whole lot going on underneath the covers of Culdcept Revolt and you feel like time is being stretched just for the sake of making the game worth the full asking price.
It seems wrong to say this, but I actually enjoyed the bad guys of the game far more than I did my allies. Nighthawk especially was charismatic, if a bit too stereotypical of a cowboy to take him very seriously. He was the only one that seemed to have a real personality too. While he is certainly a force to be reckoned with as an opponent, players learn early on that Nighthawk is only working for the Count so he can support his drinking habit. Nothing he does is personal, and he really doesn’t even like it all that much.
Still, he was responsible for killing Alicia, although he claims he’s not quite sure how that happened.
The Heart of the Cards.
With all of this narrative action, you might still be wondering how exactly one plays Culdcept Revolt. The aforementioned descriptor of Monopoly meets a CCG wasn’t far off, believe it or not. Hard as that might be to imagine, fear not. It’s actually quite simple.
With each battle the player and their opponents find themselves on a map. These maps have a tendency to differ over time, but the concept is more or less the same. There are four different colored zones (each square is known as a “land”) that tie in with the elemental assignments of the monsters in your card packs. It’s the player’s goal to position their monsters on these lands for maximum board control. If you are able to match up the element of the monster with that of the map you’re bound to get a magic boost.
As the player cycles the map you’ll hit your “Pass Go, Collect $200” point. There are usually at least two of these points, but more can be added depending on the size of the map. You want to prioritize crossing over these, because when you do, you obtain more magic. You’ll also want to ensure your deck is balanced equally for invasion tactics, offense, and defense. All of these will come into play, and it’ll be up to you to decide the best method for winning.
The more you play, the more money you’ll obtain which allows for more card buying. You won’t have to worry about this too much up front, but can come into play later on. The spell cards are the most ideal, as these are what you’ll need to handicap your opponents the more stages you play.
The Deck is Stacked Against You
No matter what techniques you try to use, you’re going to have some pretty hard times ahead in Culdcept Revolt. While there is an aid mechanic that points the player to the best decisions, like most AI, it is sometimes wrong. With so many facets of a game, and so many ways something can go wrong, it’s hard to be certain at all times what the best moves are. A player can certainly undergo “analysis paralysis” given many of the game conditions.
Overall, I enjoyed a lot of my time with Culdcept Revolt, but at other times I was downright frustrated to the breaking point with it. Because techniques aren’t always clear, and one wrong move can quite literally be your downfall, victories feel more akin to luck than to skill. This type of game isn’t for everyone naturally, but I’d wager that old fans of the Culdcept series will find little to be disappointed with here save perhaps in the pacing of the story.
I would urge new fans to err on the side of caution with this purchase. Like I said, this kind of game isn’t for everyone. In typical RPG fashion, you’ll be repeating whole cutscenes for any battles you fight while doing your best to put your best decks together from one fight to the next. Is it bad? No, just repetitive. If you’re the kind of person who has long stretches of time to spare, Culdcept Revolt will fit into your gaming timetable nicely. Otherwise, because battles are so long at times, you may be hardpressed fitting this game into your schedule.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for something new to play or are a fan of the series, Culdcept Revolt will certainly deliver a lot of interesting gameplay.
Final Verdict 3.5 / 5
Available on: Nintendo 3DS; Publisher: NIS America. ; Developer: Omiya Soft ; Players: 1; Released: October 3rd, 2017 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $39.99
Full Disclosure: This review is based on a copy of the game given to HeyPoorPlayer by the developer.