We’ve come a long way from the tiny games that used to define handheld systems. While the Game Boy was largely a machine for “junior” versions of games from grown-up home consoles, the 3DS has plenty of titles that have a life and ecosystem of their own. Take Culdcept Revolt for example, the latest in a long-running series of board game RPGs; if you want a game that’s more than willing to eat up your life, well, here you go.
Culdcept is, at its heart, Monopoly. Well, fantasy Monopoly mixed with CCGs like Magic: The Gathering, anyway. You control a Cepter, a wizard who can cast spells and summon monsters through the power of the magic book Culdcept. All this power is funded through the use of magic energy, represented ingame as G, and a match typically concludes when a Cepter has accumulated enough G and manages to make it to one of the designated Gate points on the map.
Your G account grows as you conquer territory squares by summoning monsters on them, when you pass over Gates and via certain spells; you can lose G by spending it on magic and, more importantly, by losing combat with an enemy Cepter’s monster when you land on their territory. Victory tends to revolve around claiming a bunch of land of the same element, a “monopoly” if you will, and getting an opponent to land on a particularly devastating space so you can steal all their G. Cepters can send monsters out to battle to try and save themselves from having to pay G tolls on enemy spaces, meaning it’s possible to lose spaces to enemy monsters if you don’t plan ahead.
Luck plays a role in this, but so does proper deck construction, as the spells and creatures you have available are determined before the match. You’ll earn more cards as you play, allowing you to further customize your deck to suit your playstyle. New cards typically come from booster packs that you purchase using ingame currency; as one of those strange folk who enjoy this sort of luck-of-the-draw system I found this to be especially appealing and one of the most fun aspects of the game. There are plenty of mechanics and tricks to mess around with and you can create all manner of decks with different foci.
You’ve got a full story mode to play through, controlling a Cepter as he works with the resistance group called the Free Bats as they battle an evil count. I found it a little difficult to really be drawn into the story given how everything tends to result in a Culdcept match; like Monopoly, these matches tend to take FOREVER, so your focus will likely be on victory rather than the latest dramatic twist or turn. This also means that you’ll probably want an extended bit of time set aside whenever you pick this game up unless you’re willing to reacquaint yourself with the status of a given match each time you return to your 3DS. You’ve also got fully playable multiplayer modes, with both local and online options available; there’s a ton of content here if the gameplay ends up having some appeal.
Revolt’s presentation is par for the course when it comes to this sort of game, with 2D sprites moving and performing actions on a 3D board and the game switching to a side-view featuring battling cards when combat arises. Something must be said for the interesting and appealing Final Fantasy-esque Cepter designs and while early monsters include trite fantasy fare like goblins and skeletons there are more interesting creatures to check out later on. Sound and music are workable if not memorable and I appreciated the fact that the name of each card was voiced; eventually, though, I’d put on my own music or a YouTube video for background noise while playing.
Culdcept Revolt’s intriguing blend of board games and TCGs is a solid fit for a handheld system, assuming you’ve got the patience to stick with it and the foresight to set aside time for the game’s lengthy matches. Collecting cards and constructing new decks make for an addictive, one-more-game aspect that offers a little longevity. If you’re looking for a 3DS game with some legs, in other words, you might want to check out Culdcept Revolt.