During my initial play through of the Culdcept Revolt campaign I realized that I really suck at this game and I was almost inclined to label it as unfair and convoluted with its 400 cards and therefore almost endless tactical options. I decided however to put a bit more time and effort in to understand the small intricacies this game has to offer and it suddenly opened up like a beautiful flower in spring time and turned out to be a fantastically rewarding experience.
Culdcept revolt is an amalgamation of traditional board game, JRPG and card collecting game. The board game approach is apparent as the game takes place on a board that’s divided in tiles much like Monopoly. However there are different layouts that will need a different approach which intends to make you rethink strategies at the beginning of each game with mixed success as the playing fields don’t differ that much in layout. The tiles are varying in colors to represent the elements with the exception of multicolored tiles and gates that needs to get passed to get bonus points. Unlike traditional board games you can move in every direction after a dice throw but it is highly recommended to pass the gates for the aforementioned bonus and other advantages.
Your goal is to collect enough G (magic) to reach the predetermined amount to win. G is obtained by taking toll from your enemy, upgrading your terrain or by winning battles. G is also the currency of the game. With that, much like in other card collecting games and JRPGs, you summon creatures, spells and enchantments during battles. These battles are usually being fought when you land on a field that is being owned by your opponent. Unlike Monopoly you can challenge the creature that inhabits the field via said battle mechanic or pay up the toll. Depending on how upgraded the creature is the toll will vary in value.
Culdcept revolt has around 400 different cards which you will gain access to during the course of the game via battles won or by progressing through the single player campaign. The sheer variety of creature abilities and other effects make for great amount of strategies and different approaches for deck (here called books) building. You build your deck based on red, green and yellow and blue cards. The former two contain more stronger creatures whilst the rest focuses on strong magic effects to gain the upper hand. The four colors are fairly balanced and this system really challenges your deck building skills while at first seem overwhelming but with a bit of time and effort really changes the way you play the game.
The art style of Culdcept Revolt resembles very much the style of the new Fire Emblem games. The beautifully hand-drawn, manga like character portraits, which indicate dialogue, are artistically pleasing and of high quality and highlighting the main cutscene art which are simple 3d representations of the setting and your characters. Pretty standard. During the actual battle phase the game is isometric in perspective so that the whole board plus tokens can be seen easily. Even with a board full of tokens I always had a good grasp of what was going on. Every now and the I had to turn off on screen text to see what was going on on the edges on the screen that however can be done with a press of a button so no biggie really.
As mentioned before 400 cards can be collected throughout the game and that’s where the diligence and hard work of the developers really shows off. The playing card’s layout is similar to other card collecting games with the top half showing an illustration. I was baffled by the amazing art style and artistic value that went into creating these illustrations. Even the simplest of the creatures, such as flames, have been illustrated in a very eye pleasing manner and every time I came across a new card a spend some time admiring the artwork.
The music and sound design are what you expect from a game of this caliber. During cutscenes, depending on if drama is unfolding or if its just a conversation between allies, the music is beautifully and appropriately underlining the scene. During dialogue there are small snippets of voice acting to indicate the mood of the character which is quite typical for these type of Japanese games. Music and sound design are just fitting in with the overall polish this game received.
The campaign is were you learn the ropes and the first couple of hours are designed for just that. The developers play the amnesia card to set up the story which is a trope that’s sort of over used nowadays in video games but just go with it. The protagonist wakes up and is being found by a small rebel group called the free bats. They quickly explain the narrative (we against our oppressors) and show you basic battle mechanics against friendlies. That’s it basically. It’s simple. The story is not where Culdcept Revolt shines really. Every cutscene results into a battle and that’s the game’s strength.
After a few rounds the difficulty spikes and the game becomes a serious challenge without being too unfair, at least not for experienced players, even though battles against several enemies might seem that way at first glance. You will have to adapt your book as you go with newly acquired cards based on different strategies to succeed in Culdcept Revolt. That makes the game and it’s a quite thrilling and rewarding experience.
I only wished there would be an option to skip your opponent turn animations so that, especially when you face several enemies, you won’t end up with long periods of spectating.
Culdcept Revolt also offers a dedicated, in-game online shop where you can buy different items such as book covers or avatars.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the multiplayer component of the game but according to other people I was talking to in forums, it’s a solid experience that gives the game a huge amount of replay-ability. Even today older versions of that game are hugely popular in small, devoted circles.
Culdcept Revolt is a game that can be very rewarding if you put the time in to build your book, to study the cards and keep on optimizing your play style. The sometimes daunting experience that Culdcept Revolt offers is to be recommended to experienced players only.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.