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Review: Massive Chalice

Doublefine’s Massive Chalice demo at PAX Prime 2014

This article originally appeared on the PMS Clan website in September, 2014

There has been a recent rise of tactical games with lovely, fantastic graphics as of late (see: the Banner Saga as the most recent). Massive Chalice is the newest game to take the scene, accumulating over one million dollars from its Kickstarter and is set to release later this month.

Double Fine, known for creating Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, and Iron Brigade brings forth this tactical strategy fantasy epic that focuses player-created lineages to protect the country from the Cadence.

Look at me, being all cheeky and such!

Look at me, being all cheeky and such!

I had the chance to playtest Double Fine’s title for the first time at PAX Prime. The line to play the Massive Chalice resembled a slingback, corkscrewing this way and that, blocking the walkway. Passersby had to dip and mosh pit their way to get around the clump of onlookers. Yes, this game is that good and everyone wanted to play it.

Your primary goal is to defend the 10 regions of your country from the Cadence, evil demons who are surrounding you from every angle. The player takes on the role of hand of god, dictating every action of the characters. Massive Chalice is split into two parts: tactics and strategy. Tactics involves directly fighting the Cadence on a grid while strategy delves into running and protecting the country.

Battles come about every 10 years on the timeline. Since its a tactical genre, the game is played on a grid and each character has a certain number of allotted stamina points to use for skills or movement before their turn is up. Every party member has a unique set of stats, traits, and family sigil, with the latter created exclusively by those who backed the Kickstarter.

There are three classes in the game so far: a stealthy hunter who fights with a crossbow, an alchemist who uses a bladed hook and explosive flasks, and my favorite, the caberjack, a heavy melee class who excels at crowd control with a medieval-esque spiked battering ram.

The Cadence enemies are based on time: Corrosion/Rust, Forget/Memory, Growth/Mutation, and Decay/Fossil. One enemy in particular, the Winkler, uses an attack that speeds up your character’s age by five years. This is detrimental if you’re attached to a particular character or lineage. You’ll have to decide whether or not to keep them in the battlefield or retire them.

In the beginning of the game, you must appoint a regent from your team of warriors and select a spouse so they can rule. Picking a duo to run one of the 10 regions in the country requires some careful deliberation. When picking a couple to rule, factor in each character’s fertility rate, compatibility, and most importantly, the list of genetic traits that can be passed down to the offspring. A child receives a combination of traits from his or her parents and random genetic mutations, too. Some traits include faster leveling up, decreased accuracy, increased sight range, and so on. Same-sex marriages will be allowed in the game as well as adoption. In strategy mode, you can research weapons, equipment, boosts, and items.

What’s fun about this game is seeing how far the lineages go. The shtick can be likened to Rogue Legacy, except far more less immediate deaths. (Thank you, DoubleFine) I’m going to try and create a redheaded army, just like I did with Bardbarian.

If you like Game of Thrones, XCOM, and the Banner Saga then Massive Chalice is a must-buy. The game is expected to release in late September on PC, Mac, Linux, and Xbox One. You can still preorder it here for $29.99.


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