Adapting tabletop games into electronic media might sound like a half-baked idea. Board games are often the catalysts of magnificently contentious play sessions, bringing groups of friends together before dividing them via cutthroat competition. But as responsibilities become increasingly demanding and recreational hours grow increasing scarce, coordinating the schedules of a handful of acquittances becomes as complicated as advanced calculus.
Although adaptations often lack the gratification of face-to-face taunting, there are a number of upsides. Learning how to play though an interactive tutorial beats the hell out of studying a mind-numbing manual. Since electronic versions handle many of the burdens like rule enforcement and scoring, play becomes easier for participants. Set-up and clean up are a breeze, and the inability to lose physical pieces is truly an undisputable benefit.
Undoubtedly, the release of Culdcept Revolt exhibits many of these advantageous qualities. Blending the around the board progress of Monopoly with the deck building and card-based confrontations of Magic the Gathering, Culdcept resurrects Omiya Soft’s franchise from its nearly decade-long stateside hiatus. And while the title has a few elements that are underrealized, the core experience is solid enough to enthrall fans of strategy games.
Narratives are near-requisite components of any contemporary game; even the most rudimentary title is built around a story. As such, Revolt establishes a war between two opposition factions. On one side are the rebellious Free Bats- Cepters capable of harnessing the power of cards, while on the other are Count Kraniss and his army who are focused on hunting down members of the mutinous faction. Visual novel-styled storytelling situates the amnesiac Allen as the game’s sporadically anti-social, black-leather jacket clan protagonist. Unsurprisingly, the physiological condition is exploited as an expositional method, allowing Culdcept to gradually dole out pieces of the plotline, attempting to maintain player interest. And while the main conflict has some appealing qualities, it’s most interesting when antagonism intensifies, whether its friction between allies or the exchanges between bloodthirsty rivals.
But let’s face it- few are going to pursue Culdcept Revolt for the novelty of its plotline. It’s certainly functional, with a restrained number of characters and a suitable set-up, but identifying with the angsty lead or any of the game’s other allies might be difficult. Fortunately, there are a number of incentives to play though the title’s story. The introduction serves as a tutorial, tenderly guiding players through all of the fundamentals of play. Secondly, the campaign provides cards which are used to customize your deck. Sure, you can grind your way through matches earning enough currency to purchase additional cards but progressing through Revolt’s story is a quicker way to secure these dividends.
Progress through the tutorial and you’ll gradually appreciation how the game’s mechanics all fit together. At first, you’ll be rolling a pair of dice to move across the game board, earning money as you pass under designated gates. Like Monopoly, the squares you slide across are color coded into four main elements with tolls escalating when you control multiple territories of the same hue. Much like the Chance and Community Chest cards in the Hasbro/Parker Bros. recreation, boards extend a number of novelties, from interactive switches which dictate the direction of passing players to siege towers that allow you to challenge a critical territory without even landing on it. And echoing the property acquisition of the tabletop classic, you can take control of any space of the board, laying down a creature card to protect your conquest.
Monopoly never allowed you to physically challenge a landlord. But in Revolt, you can opt to challenge your opponent, using one of the creatures in your hand to confront the greedy proprietor. If you lose, you’re forced to pay the toll and you forfeit the creature. But if you defeat your opponent, the spoils of war are especially sweet. Agreeably, Revolt fights are fairly straightforward at first, with battle outcomes dependent on the figures on each card. Later, the game gradually adds sophistication with equipment and spell cards that can bolster stats or even give perks like adding another dice to your roll.
Steadily, Revolt’s loop of play, gaining new cards, and amending your deck to make on new challengers grows increasingly compelling. Sure, there are a few issues that tarnish play. AI turns can be a little sluggish, even when the animation speed is maximized. And then there’s the whole reliance on dice rolls, which means that occasionally no matter how prudent your decisions are, you’re fated to lose. But then there are the rounds where you’re able to claw your way back from an imminent loss, which are especially satisfying. Of course, these become absurdly pleasing when you’re playing against real humans instead of CPU-controlled opponents. The only issue with human-based matches is that like an actual board game, these matches require a substantial amount of time to play out.
But fundamentally these are minor, forgivable transgressions. Once you secure enough cards, Revolt allows enough deck customizability to support a wide variety of tactical styles. More importantly, there’s a contenting amount of balance; with even powerful cards exhibiting an exploitable weakness. When your deck has the proper remedy for a potentially perilous situation, play feels remarkably delighting.
Agreeably, that sense of delight endures across hours, resisting deterioration across dozens of hours of play. Screenshots might not exhibit visual extravagance, but Culdcept Revolt’s enjoyment is deeply rooted in its play mechanics. Players with even a passing interest in board or card-based games are advised to give Culdcept a try. Being able to play an adept amalgam of tabletop recreation and trading card game on the go proves to be a blessing. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait as long for a follow-up.
Culdcept Revolt was played on the 3DS with
review code provided by the publisher.
Developer: Omiya Soft/ JAMSWORKS Co. Ltd.
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: October 3rd (US), October 6th (EU)
Price: $39.99 via retail or eShop