Culdcept Revolt is, for now, available on the Nintendo 3DS.
The 3DS has been an absolute powerhouse for portable JRPGs and little oddballs alike. So Culdcept Revolt, targeted smack-dab in the overlap of that venn diagram? Obviously the poster child of a game that belongs on the system.
And when our own Steve (a.k.a. MrAlarm) pointed it out on sale for a fiver, that was the easiest decision I made all week.
Just look at this thing:
This looks distressingly familiar.
I won't drag out the details of exactly why Monopoly is a quantifiably bad board game by design. Other journalists have done that better than I could, anyway.
But if you've ever played any of its seemingly-infinite variations – including Fortune Street – you know how lopsided the game is by design. And if you don't remember, I'll be the first to remind you how it tends to only ever be fun for whoever happens to be winning at the time.
And Culdcept Revolt borrows all those same building blocks. You make laps around a board, plonk down ownership of squares along the way, and collect taxes from any chump who rolls unluckily. A given session even has a similar lifecycle; I can think of maybe two matches so far that haven't ended in one player's score blowing the others' clean out of the water:
In short, Culdcept Revolt has every reason to be a terrible, unbalanced game that makes me what to throw my DS at a wall.
So how is it that I've been sneaking in matches for nearly a month now now?
The short answer is, more or less, that I've been playing against the computer.
The long answer is more or less in-line with why I played so ding-dang much of the Pokémon TCG last year.
On top of being more-or-less a digital board game, Culdcept Revolt is also more-or-less a deck-based game. And those resources are key, being how you hold onto that precious Park Place tile – or ruthlessly overtake it and avoid sure taxation. Anything to mitigate that debt spiral – or hold onto it – goes such a long way.
That means that each game, I'm playing for enough credits to net me a fresh new card pack. And with that territory comes an unbendable, unfortunate truth: some cards are just better. Seto Kaiba with his embarrassing resources will always be at an advantage.
Not that I'm not cracking packs just for the sake of sweet new Card Art, either.
( Psst – don't let any mobile developers hear about this one. )
That isn't to say that Culdcept Revolt lets you roll all over it once you get enough funds under your belt. Really, the game seems suspiciously-good at maintaining a very close race until the last round or two of the game, until a CPU trips up and happens to land on one of your most expensive properties.
…which I can't help but feel suspicious of. After all, it's hardly a secret that a lot of your favorite video games will fudge dice rolls in the player's favor for the sake of “game-feel”.
And boy howdy does it work, because I would've dropped Culdcept like a rock if I'd been torpedoing forty-five-minute games against AI Player #8.
Or a five-minute game against Online Player #5478, for that matter.
Bullying Robots For Fun and Gil
I'm not going to call it a blessing that the system's servers are sunsetting, by any stretch. But, in a sense, it's nice having the luxury to turn a blind eye to Culdcept Revolt‘s “online play” tag. With even a cursory look at fansites for the game, it's clear that people are thinking about the game pretty darned seriously.
And I don't know whether I have the energy for that a lot of the time – dealing it or taking it. I barely have the energy to play Dominion against that one friend who's suspiciously good at turn-stacking, and I at least know that guy. There's a reason a lot of my favorite board games nowadays are either cooperative or mercifully short.
Getting smothered over the course of an hour – or doing the same to the rest of the room – is just less and less of a fun game nowadays.
But wielding that same oppression against some hapless AI character? Especially the little snot who's been jockeying for my land the last fifteen rounds?
That's mostly harmless.
But so's my deck of kraken and bird-men. Come at me, puny NPCs.
Culdcept Revolt is going steadily more over its original MSRP for a physical cartridge. If this sounds interesting to you – snap it up before March 2023. Who knows when – or if – a niche series like this will see a new entry.