Massive Chalice is a turn-based strategy game from Double Fine Productions. It is their second game to be the focus of a Kickstarter campaign (the first being Broken Age.)
Reviewed on PC
Available platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux
Developer: Double Fine
Publisher: Double Fine
We take the role of the immortal protector of the nation, progeny of great bloodlines, master of strategies, eternal conductor, and so on, and so on. We have been invoked by a blood ritual to save the kingdom from the menace of the Cadence, a group of demonic-like creatures which no human can touch without suffering an immediate death. To do so we will have to charge the energies of the Massive Chalice and unleash its power to rid this menace of the land once and for all.
The thing is, it will take 300 years to charge the Chalice. But fret not, with the help of our two advisers (who are in fact the Chalice itself), we will find heroes of heroic bloodlines, who can fight the Cadence without dying and push them back until the Chalice is fully charged.
But then again, no hero can live 300 years, right?
That’s why we will have to forge alliances between different families of heroes, marry them and make sure that their bloodline is preserved so we can always have a stock of heroes to fight against the Cadence.
The game reminded me a lot of games like X-COM and Civilization. The world map is composed of 10 areas (besides the throne area.) You’ll have to make decisions regarding whether to build or research, as you can do only one of those at once. Each of these processes takes years to be completed, and while you wait for that time to pass (and also for the Chalice to charge), heroes will die, heroes will be born, and other events you’ll have to interfere in will arise.
Of course, Cadence will attack. They will usually target two different regions, and you can only defend one of them, so the other one will add up a danger point. When a region reaches 3 danger points it will be completely lost, forever. However, each time you successfully defend a region, you’ll subtract a danger point from it.
At first you have 3 classes available: the Hunter, who can scout ahead with stealth and kill with deadly ranged attacks; the Alchemist, who excels at throwing area-damaging bombs, but is very weak; and the Caberjacks, who are this game’s ‘tanks’, as they fight with a wood-like battering ram (a caber, hence ‘caberjack’. Duh.) and are excellent at pushing back the enemy.
As you progress throughout the game and you marry different classes you will get different sub-classes with combinations of their parents’ powers — for example, a Trickshot, the result of marrying a hunter and an alchemist, will shoot exploding area-damaging arrows to his enemies. It’s pretty awesome.
There are different types of enemies, too, all of them with different effects to their attacks. For example, some will hit you and make you lose XP, while others (which I hate) will make your hero age 5 years. And yes, your heroes can die from old age at the battlefield.
Now, 300 years may sound like a lot of time, but you won’t be capable of researching every piece of armor, weapon and item in that timespan, which is great. It gives the game great replay value as you can make your team different in each playthrough.
From the start of the game one can see that the developers went trough a great deal of work to make a wonderful world. Everything looks like it comes from inside a painting.
Besides that, the imagination put into the classes is great — each piece of armor has its own looks, and when you marry, say, a hunter with an alchemist, the resulting trickshot’s armor will resemble both classes’ generic armor a bit. Also, hunters have big-ass crossbows, and they’re awesome.
MUSIC & SOUND
The music is great from the start, but after a while it becomes a bit repetitive, and in the end it’s not memorable at all. The only sounds you’re likely to remember are those of when the enemies’ turn starts, and of when one of your heroes dies.
The voice acting is great, however. As always, Double Fine does a great job casting actors, and even when there’s only 2 speaking characters in the entire game, they sound great. They’re funny and memorable.
Massive Chalice is a great game to play. The concept of joining bloodlines so you can have different classes of heroes with different traits is great. It makes you mourn your losses even more, because you don’t just lose a hero, you lose a potentially great line of heroes.
The game could use a bit more customization, like the ability to choose the map size or the approximate duration of the Chalice’s charging process. Then again, the game is still in Early Access, so I have big expectations for what the final product will be.