Massive Chalice Review
Double Fine has created a game that is a combination of XCOM-style tactics games, and Game of Thrones-style bloodlines system. The game switches between those two parts throughout the game as you are constantly trying to ward off “The Cadence” and keep your several families’ bloodlines alive and ever growing. The Cadence is a hoard of decay that has surrounded your kingdom. They will attack sections of your land a few times every decade. And most of the times they attack, you have to pick only one section to save. The other sections will then be afflicted by the enemy. The different types of enemies represent different effects of time on the mind or body. Some enemies make your heroes forget their combat experience. Others might add five years to a hero’s age with every attack. I’ve even had heroes die of old age in battle because of this!
Massive Chalice spans a timeline of 300 years. As an immortal omnipresent ruler, you will watch generations upon generations of your people live and die in battle or of old age. You will research armor, weapons, and accessories for your combat team, “The Vanguard.” You can also construct various buildings for things like housing families or to speed up the leveling of your trainees. All of your research and building takes years to complete. You have to choose wisely because time is always afflicting your heroes with age. When they get old, they are less effective in combat and become less fertile. This can get out of control if all of a sudden you’re trying to defend your kingdom with white-haired, frail heroes having traits like Puny, Nearsighted, and Arthritis. You also need to pair the right heroes together at a good time inside a Keep. This will allow them to produce children for the future.
The art in Massive Chalice is a bit hard to enjoy. Some parts of the game look beautiful, like the vibrant environments when you’re in combat. But the basic models of the heroes still look unpolished. A lot of the game still has a placeholder look. There might have been some compromises Double Fine had to make with their Kickstarter money. It’s not an ugly game by any means. But it also doesn’t pop at all. The music in the game however, is really great. There’s some well-fitting drums and string instruments in the soundtrack that kept me in the moment during combat.
Juggling the two focuses, combat and bloodlines, in Massive Chalice is what makes it hard to put down. Watching your research timers tick down to completion, leveling up your heroes in combat, passing down family relics to future generations, and trying to perfect the genetics of your houses is quite unique. Massive Chalice offers a very different take on the turn-based strategy genre by making you have to really think about the effects of time.