[Culdcept Revolt]E3 2017： Culdcept Revolt struggles to explain itself
Credit: NIS America
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There’s a reason that board game-style video games haven’t caught on. With few exceptions, we’d all rather play board games as board games, with a bunch of friends around a table and tangible pieces to manipulate. The few breakthroughs in the genre, such as Mario Party, were successful because of the competition the inspired and the more video gamey elements added. Culdcept Revolt marks a return of the Culdcept series to North America after a nine-year hiatus, but after a preview at E3 2017, I’m not sure it can make enough games to capture players outside its limited existing popularity.
That’s because Culdcept Revolt is very board game and not so much video game, with a campaign you play through solo. It’s just not much fun to play a board game by yourself. And Culdcept Revolt doesn’t help by a initial density of concept that quickly grows mundane. The concept is similar to Monopoly, in that you must progress around a board by rolling dice and claim territory as you go. Generally, you win the game by accumulating a set amount of Magic, which can be earned by claiming territory with various creatures.
Credit: NIS America
When your opponent lands on territory you’ve claimed, they can either battle to take it from you, or pay a Magic toll to continue without a battle. Creatures have different strengths and weaknesses, and can be stronger based on whether or not their element matches the color of the terrain they are on. They can also be augmented with weapons and armor you draw from your deck. Your deck of creatures and items is customizable outside of matches and new cards will be earned as you play.
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While this was simple enough for me to explain, in practice when I was playing the game, I found the initial playstyle frustrating to grasp. I think it was perhaps because I wanted to overthink it, when in reality I was just making loops around a map and dropping monsters in my wake. After several laps, the initial frustration gave way to boredom. I wasn’t accumulating magic very quickly, and when I did, I felt I had to spend it again to power up my monsters just to remain competitive.
Given the longevity of Culdcept, I feel that there must be something I’m missing here. The opening levels shown in the demo did not resonate with or hook me into the game, but I know there must be more to this strategy title. I think online play or local play with friends would certainly improve the experience, but my brief experience at E3 2017 just made me feel like I was playing solo Monopoly with Magic: The Gathering cards. I understand that there is a strategic depth here, I’m just not sold yet that the gameplay loop is interesting enough to make me want to grasp that strategy.
There is a storyline here, one I didn’t get to experience much, but it isn’t just a long series of pointless battles. The main character, Allen, has lost all his memories but does know that he has powers of Cepter, someone who can control the cards of Culdcept but is actively hunted down by the government. Allen’s Culdcept battles are to regain control of the city from its rulers and free the Cepters as he discovers who he is. Even if Culdcept Revolt is more likely to live or die on its gameplay, having a story to drive the player forward to learning new techniques and tactics is always a plus.
Next: Nintendo Spotlight at E3 2017: Our report card
Culdcept Revolt launches on October 3rd for the Nintendo 3DS.