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Culdcept Saga

Score: 96%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Omiya Soft
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/ RPG/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

I'm going to start this out by warning you that I am a Culdcept addict. I play the PS2 version so much that with just a glance at what the computer has available, I can tell you what damage/protection they could possibly do. I know almost all the cards and their abilities perfectly. I didn't even own a 360 until I found out Culdcept Saga was being released on 360 only. So given all this, Culdcept Saga had a long way to prove to me that it was better than the last one and worth buying a 360 for.

Graphically, Culdcept Saga is very pretty. The cards have always been gorgeous. There's almost 500 (482 to be precise) hand-drawn cards that you can earn. Some of them look exactly the same as the previous game, but quite a few of the have been completely redrawn. The characters on the board look a lot better now, for the most part. Some of them were cartoonish looking before. Now they're all beautiful. The boards and opposing cepters also look a lot better now. The level of detail and diversity is so much higher.

Something I've always loved about Culdcept is the background music. Culdcept Saga continues this tradition. With each board that you play, you'll get different background music. As before, when you're halfway to the magic goal, the music speeds up to let you know that. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of all of the character's voices. Some of them are just a little boring to listen to, but there's none so far that are just so horrible that I can't stand hearing them talk.


In Culdcept Saga, you play as a young man of common birth. The game starts with you being sold into slavery. As you're leaving your village, you run into two women and end up battling one of them, Rilara, with cards that the other, Faustina, gives to you. From that, you learn that you are a cepter capable of wielding the power of the cards. All your life, you've been having dreams of the stars, but you've never known what they meant. Now, you start a journey with the cards to discover the meaning of the star dreams, not just for yourself, but for Faustina as well. Along the way, you'll first have to earn your freedom, which is no easy task. After that, you'll battle a number of cepters to form alliances, to save your life, and to learn the meaning of the dreams.

Each board in Culdcept Saga is set up similar to a Monopoly board, except it doesn't have to be square in shape. Some boards even have paths that change depending on the squares you land on. The board is comprised of different colored squares. The four main elements are fire (red), water (blue), wind (yellow), and earth (green). You'll see these colored squares on the board, plus some different ones. There's a multi-elemental land that appears with all four colors in it, a neutral land which is grey, and a "morphing space" that changes to be the element of the first creature placed there. There are also various different lands that will cause different effects to happen when you land there, such as a shrine (which now also comes in light and dark), a fortune teller, and a fountain. The shrines cause various things to happen, sometimes good and sometimes bad. The light shrines perform more good miracles overall and the dark shrines perform more bad things. The fortune teller lets you choose what kind of card to draw from your deck to add to your hand. The fountain is a new addition. If you land directly on it and choose to touch it, it will replace all the cards in your hand with new ones from your deck. This can be quite helpful when you don't have anything that you can play.

When you land on an empty space, you can choose to claim the land with a creature card from your hand. You have 3 different types of cards in your deck: creature, item, and spell cards. Creature cards are used for claiming land and battling. Item cards raise stats or perform actions during battles. Spell cards are typically for casting before rounds to affect lands and cepters. If there is already a creature on the land that you landed on, you can either pay the toll to the cepter that owns that land or battle the creature with one from your hand for control. Be aware, if you lose the battle, you still have to pay the toll.

At the start of the game, you're given a set amount of Magic Power. Almost every move you make requires magic. Each of the creature, item, and spell costs are written on the cards. As you go around the board, you'll pass forts on the way back to the castle (where you began the game). Each time you pass a fort for the first time on that lap, you'll earn more magic. When you make it back to the castle and complete the lap (which means you passed all the forts), you'll earn magic also. The first cepter to the total magic goal wins the match. At the beginning and end of each match that you win in Story Mode, you'll be shown more of the story events.

When you need a break from playing against the computer, you can play in Versus Mode or Online. Be aware that you can only have one cepter per Xbox Live profile, so if you want to play with/against your friends all on the same 360, they'll either need to have their data on a memory unit or create a profile on your machine. You can also use a virtual cepter, but virtual cepters cannot save cards they win or create their own books. When you are playing Versus or Online, you can have a book made of more or less than 50 cards. You can play 1 - 4 players with or without alliances (two or more cepters working together). You'll earn the same amount of cards you would if you were playing in Story Mode, but unless you're playing against the story characters or working on the online achievements, you won't earn achievements.


To be very honest, Culdcept Saga is not an easy game. If you've played a previous Culdcept game, you'll have an obvious advantage. Throughout the Story Mode, you'll work with a deck comprised of 50 cards. The very first match, you'll only have those 50 cards to work with. After each match, you'll get more cards, even if you lose. The board has a set number that the winner gets. The losers get half that number. Now obviously, the more cards you have to work with, the better deck you can make. But there's a fine art to making a deck.

There's no such thing as the "perfect" deck. Different boards lend themselves better to different cards. One of the most difficult parts of Culdcept Saga is modifying your decks so that you are able to beat the level. You can go online and ask people's opinions, and everyone is going to tell you something different. The best way to learn how to build a good deck for you is to learn how the cards work. The only way you're going to learn the cards and how they work is to play the game.

Another thing you'll notice that can be difficult is playing with the computer. During several of the boards, you'll be required to team up and form an alliance with a computer-controlled character. There's really not much you can do to make that character do what you need them to. You'll have to learn how to use your cards well enough that what the computer does doesn't hurt your team score.

Since there's also multiplayer options both on and off-line, you can make the game as easy or as hard as you want. Especially with alliances, you and 2 friends can play against the computer, which pretty much assures you're going to win. If you want more of a challenge, you can be the one against three even. There are so many ways to customize your game that you shouldn't run out of ways to play or difficulty levels to choose from.

Game Mechanics:

The controls in Culdcept Saga are easy to use. Knowing what to do and when to do it is a little more difficult. But there is a 50+ page instruction manual and a good in-game help system to get you started.

At the beginning of each match, you start with 4 cards in your hand. When it is your turn, you draw a card. If you have any spell cards, you can play them at the beginning of the turn. Otherwise, press up on the left stick or the D-pad and roll the dice. Press (A) to stop the spinning die. Use the left stick or the D-pad to select the direction you want to go and press (A). When you get to the square, if it's free, you can call a creature to take it. Each creature has at least one element like the land. If the creature element matches the land that you place it on, it will gain land effects during battle. Some creature cards now have two elements. They will gain land effects if they are on either color. Neutral creatures do not gain land effects from any color, including neutral. If the land isn't free, you can battle the creature on it or pay the toll.

After you've settled the space, there are still a few things you can do. If you did not play a creature, you can use the Territory ability on any of your lands that you passed on that roll. Territory allows you to do things like change the land color, move or exchange the creature on that land, or level the land up. Land can have a level from 1 to 5. The higher the level, the more the land is worth, hence the more the toll costs. A leveled up land also increases the land effects. During battle, if the creature matches that element, it will gain a bonus 10 HP per level that the land is. For example, a level 4 land will give a matching elemental creature a bonus of +40 HP during battle. If you have 2 lands next to each other, they will give each other a bonus 10 ST (strength) during battle, so it's beneficial to try and take lands next to each other and to level then up as much as you can afford. You continue circling the board until one cepter reaches the total magic required for that board. If you don't have time to finish it in one sitting, you can choose to Suspend the game, if you are in Story Mode. You cannot suspend a Versus or Online game.

There's a lot more to Culdcept Saga that I just don't have room to go into. If you like turn-based strategy games, I highly recommend you check this game out. It is probably one of the best strategy games available. If you liked the previous versions, there is nothing lacking that you had before, and the additions are quite enjoyable. I really like the morphing lands personally. They can change the board completely from game to game. Even if you don't play online, there's plenty to keep you busy for hours on end. Culdcept Saga is a long game with infinite replay value. Even if you're not a fan of turn-based strategy, you should at least go rent it. I normally don't like strategy games and I'm still totally addicted to Culdcept Saga. It was definitely worth buying a 360 for.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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