There are very few games I will literally run around telling my gamer friends in the office to buy—Culdcept is one of them. It’s just such a unique experience and so perfect for the high level nerds that I hang with. It’s a mash up of three really fun things—card battle games, Monopoly and JRPGs. And it blends the three perfectly, resulting in a gaming experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
I’ve been the captain of the Culdcept hype train since I first played it on the PS2 a zillion years ago. Much time has passed since then, but releases here have been sparse. But now, there’s a new shiny game for the 3DS and they’ve added several improvements from yesteryear.
In the game you play a cool-looking JRPG dude who has *SURPRISE* lost his memory. Haha! Classic! This catapults you into the middle of a rebellion against an evil empire. Not exactly groundbreaking material at first, but the story has a surprising amount meat on its bones and a bounty of fun and memorable characters.
In an attempt to regain your memories, you’ll battle friend and foe in fight after fight and that’s really what the game is about—battles. To win battles, you must travel around a board and be the first to get enough magic points to meet the magic goal. You get points by the value of your territories and the amount of times you go through gates. BUT! There’s a catch—you can lose magic points if you land on enemy territory and can’t defeat their monster. And you can lose a lot of points, depending on how far you are into the game.
It works like this—each character has a deck of cards full of monsters, equipment (swords, armor, etc) and spells. The board, which changes each battle, has different colored spaces that represent its environment—fire, water, air, etc. Every turn, you roll two dice to determine where you’ll land, although you can choose to go in different directions, depending on the board. Land on an empty space—put down a monster. Try to match the monster to the space to get additional bonuses. As the game goes on, you spend money to raise the level of the land. The higher the level the more money you get when passing through gates, and the more opponents have to pay when they land on it. Unless that is, they can defeat your monster guarding it. If another player lands on your space, they can pay you or fight you with a monster in their hand. The winner gets the land. Keep doing this until a player gets enough magic points and passes a gate to win.
Sounds relatively simple, but when you add in all the variables, battles can get quite complicated. Each monster has their own strength and health that can change with bonuses. Because there are so many bonuses that affect each battle, it’s hard to calculate. Many monsters have specific powers that affect stats. You can use weapons or armor (if they’re in your hand). Some monsters attack first, and some get extra bonuses from being on a matching color land. There are chain bonuses (having multiple monsters on the same block) and more. It’s dizzying!
This complexity is actually a good thing, because it keeps the fights from being predictable. Plus, as you play the game, you can buy new and more powerful/complicated cards with monsters that make things even more exciting. And the battle animations are hilarious! Two cards pop up, and the announcer announces the name of the monsters. Simple but hilarious animation sequences then show the fight. Say a Red Ogre is fighting an Amazon: if the ogre is armed with a club, a big club will swing across the screen hitting the Amazon card. If it kills it, the card falls into pieces, but if it only damages it, the card then gets a hole punctured in it. The animation changes depending on the monsters and equipment they're using. Sometimes it’s a sword or teeth or big beefy arms punching across the screen and more. It’s ridiculously entertaining to watch.
As the game goes on and more and more monsters fill up the board, it gets quite stressful. Because you can raise the level of the land so high, one bad roll can set you back quite a bit. Usually the magic point goal is 8,000 and toward the end of the game, it’s not unusual to have a few 800–1,200 spots. You pay the toll with your regular magic currency which is used to pay for putting down monsters, raising the cost of land, changing the type of land and more. If you get hit by a big toll and you don’t have enough dough, you’ll have to sell some land to pay off your debt. Fortunes in this game can flip in an instant.
The improvements to this title make it the best Culdcept yet. For one, the boards are bit smaller so matches don’t drag on for so long. And you can quit! Which sounds like a lame thing to do, but in the old Culdcept if you’re down by thousands of points, the game could go on for a painfully long time only for you to lose. Being able to surrender saves a lot of time and grief.
If you’re into card games, tabletop games, or just weird and wacky JRPGs, Culdcept Revolt will provide you hours and hours of addictive fun.
Hint: This game comes with a “helper” that advises on what you should do next. It’s great for new players, but don’t depend on it too much—it makes some seriously boneheaded suggestions.
by Urian Brown
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