Rule and expand the nation as you manage family bloodlines all while fighting a war. Sound like your kind of game? Massive Chalice, which recently released for free on Xbox One as a part of Games with Gold for the month of June, may be the game for you — but is it worth the drink?
What Is It?
Massive Chalice gives you the opportunity to take on the role of the Immortal Ruler of the Nation with two voices, one woman and one man, guiding you as you make decisions that will shape the Nation not only in the present but for generations to come. Pairing your Regents with a suitable partner will start a new bloodline where their characteristics and traits will be unique. The Cadence, a faceless alien race, continues to threaten the Nation in a Risk fashion where you must fight off their invasion to ensure your Nation thrives. It is then when you indulge in the turn-base style gameplay similar to that of X-COM, in that you take control of each hero moving around a map taking turns attacking each other.
The Xbox One’s current selection of strategy games is slim and Massive Chalice is a real nice treat. The game has a very in-depth system that very different from other strategy games, but a lot of it seems out of place and very difficult to manage unless you commit a lot of time to the game.
Why Should I Care?
Immortal Ruler of a Nation — this idea alone should make you at least want to give it a try. In a quick summary, Massive Chalice is a game where you make decisions that determine your nation’s fate. Now brace yourself as we go on a journey to see what this game is really about.
The first order of business is to determine your first Regent of your first Keep, which is basically the ruler of that particular castle. Easy enough? Well, each hero comes with a unique set of stats, traits, personalities, and status all while falling under one of three classes: Alchemist, Hunter, and Caberjack. After choosing whom you seem fit to rule, you choose a partner (or not), to rule by your regent’s side. This is where it begins to get tricky, whomever you pair with your regent, there will be an indicator of the possibility of fertility (don’t worry, same sex pairings have the ability to adopt later!). Pairing certain classes together can make a hybrid class, which will inherit particular stats, traits, personalities, and statuses. I have yet to see two heroes that are identical. This is the beginning of that Bloodline.
After forcing this marriage upon our two lucky rulers, it’s best we let them have some alone time. Now it’s time to decide what our nation does to pass the time. The Nation offers various regions that can be settled with three different buildings. Keeps, as mentioned before, offer the ability to marry two people to produce more heroes. Crucibles serve as a training ground for your Vanguard to boost XP. Sagewright Guilds are essentially centers that cut down the amount of time to build/research, but allot three of your heroes to spend the rest of their life reading books.
When everything seems to settle in, you need to fast forward through time allowing events to take place until its stopped for an event that needs your decision. These range from two of your heroes standing up for you on the outskirts to a drunk wanting to arm-wrestle you. The events truly feel random, and while it felt awesome at first, it became tiresome and less personal towards the end as your decision could result in the death of heroes. I thought long and hard towards the beginning and then slowly started making decisions I felt would yield funny results.
Oftentimes, more enjoyment was found in the randomness of the storyline rather than the turn-base strategy portion of the game. Poor performances on the battlefield as it reflected my poor decision-making that put my nation at a disadvantage. It felt that there was too much to manage off the battlefield without much guidance, the two voices mentioned before serve more as unnecessary comedic relief rather than actual guides. As the time passes, days turn in to years in a manner of seconds. It felt difficult to care as research and buildings would take up to 10 years to complete. You can’t build or research more than one thing at a time. It became frustrating to see the nation fall apart because of the length of time to finish researching or building.
It’s truly a shame because everything feels very good about the game. The battlefield gameplay works fairly well and strategy is definitely needed to be successful. Assembling the right team for the battle and equipping them properly, all make for a great turn-by-turn grid war. If this game focused more on this gameplay, it happens every 10 years or so, it could’ve been very special. A multiplayer mode that could take advantage of this mechanic would have been great but none was to be found.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Considering that Microsoft will be offering this game for the great price of FREE for June (if you have Xbox Live Gold), it’s hard to beat that price. When June ends, Massive Chalice will be available for download at the cost of $19.99. If it is worth your time is the real question. I still find myself playing this game from time to time, but really only want to get to the battlefield play where this game should have been making it’s impact. Unfortunately, they decided to stick a convoluted genetics system and long periods of waiting that left the battle portion very mundane. Because of this, the portion of the game you spend the most time actually playing doesn’t feel as filling as it should. It just comes down to the little things that make the game not run as smooth as it could. Perhaps a few updates can help streamline the gameplay but if not, it may be difficult to truly invest the time in this game that is needed to enjoy it. Had it been something I could pick up and play with a friend online in 15-20 minutes, it could have been a hit.
Perhaps the chalice was too massive to drink from in one sitting. It is something that must be worked on from time to time, as you must plan for the long haul if you want to get the best out of the game. Luckily, the game has a nice taste that you really shouldn’t mind taking a sip from.