MASSIVE CHALICE involves managing a kingdom over 300 years while periodically having to battle enemies to protect the land. Since a long period of time is involved, the heroes that you use in combat will grow old and die with time, so you can’t get attached to anyone. To counter this, you must set up bloodlines around the land that will produce the many heroes that you will use in combat and other tasks. There is actually a lot involved when selecting people to put together, since everyone has negative and positive traits and personalities that can affect their offspring.
Even if you’re not in combat, there are a few things you must manage instead of just sitting back and watching time go by. You are able to have one thing being researched at a time that will grant many different bonuses, such as better class armor or a passive bonus to every hero. Opportunities can appear as time goes by which are little stories that allow you to make a choice in how to deal with them, resulting in negative or positive rewards depending on luck and the choices themselves. Other than building keeps that will house your hero bloodlines, crucibles and sagewright guilds can also be built which will increase the experience of your heroes and even speed up research times. Just because you built one of these buildings doesn’t mean you can’t be careful, since any heroes that you place inside of them can’t be used for combat.
After a period of years, the enemies called Cadence will attack the kingdom. Multiple regions of the kingdom will be attacked at once, but you can only stop one of the attacks each time, causing the undefended areas to become corrupted. If a region has too much corruption, it will be lost along with any buildings you have built. Five heroes consisting of 3 main classes and 6 hybrid classes can be deployed to the area that you have selected, and you can manage their skills and equipment before sending them off. There will be the caberjack that acts as a melee tank unit, a hunter that can attack everything from afar, and the alchemist who can do devastating area damage while also being able to heal your group. New types of Cadence will be slowly introduced as time goes on, and eventually advanced forms of each kind will even appear. Some of the Cadence that you will run into include a ghost type that will cause heroes to lose experience if they get hit, a scary looking wrinkled thing that will cause heroes to grow older if they get hit, and an energetic being that can switch places with any of your heroes.
There is a lot to learn about the game, and it is the type where you will probably have to start over a few times until you learn how it all works. It isn’t a game of real-time skill since you mostly just look at numbers when managing the kingdom and combat is turn based, but there is still a lot to figure out. At least there are difficulty settings so you can make it easier and you are able to load your game at any time, so you can retry something anytime it goes wrong. The game can be saved at any time whether you’re managing your kingdom or in the middle of combat, so you can enjoy the game no matter your schedule. This is the perfect game for any hardcore gamer. Other than making the combat harder, the brutal difficulty setting also causes the kingdom to start with corruption in its outer areas. IRON mode can be combined with any difficulty to make it even harder, as it will prevent you from making manual saves of your game, meaning that all mistakes and unlucky moments will stay with you.
A complete playthrough of MASSIVE CHALICE will take you about 15-20 hours to complete. Although there is replayability in the game because you can always use different classes and use a different research path, additional playthroughs probably won’t differ much and feel repetitive. The game opens up explaining why you have to manage a kingdom for 300 years, but there isn’t much of any actual story going on while playing the game. Completing the game will somewhat conclude the story, but there just isn’t much to it. Unless you want a deep story that you will constantly be involved in, the small amount of story that you do get shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment of the game.
The options menu is pretty basic but does let you change the important things. Screen resolution and the type of window can be chosen, including borderless window. A few graphical options can be changed like anti-aliasing and the quality of the fog of war. It lets you see the controls of the game, but you aren’t able to change them. There are audio sliders for sound and music, and you are able to turn on subtitles if you want them. At first glance, the graphics of MASSIVE CHALICE appear to have an unfinished look about them, especially the character models viewed up close. This papercraft look of the game is actually intended to be the art style, so you may want to make sure you are okay with this style before deciding on buying it. The environment actually looks quite good during battles. It runs well at max settings and while using anti-aliasing, so you should be able to play it on an average computer by at least turning anti-aliasing down or off.
Audio is quite possibly the most polished part of the game. There is a good selection of music that plays in all parts of the game whether you’re managing the kingdom or are in the middle of battle. Everything has a unique sound effect assigned to it, and can even help you determine what kind of enemies are hiding in the fog of war. All of the heroes that you command don’t say anything during combat, but they do have generic grunts for when they attack and do other commands. The only voice acting in the game comes from the chalice in the form of a male and female voice that will guide you through the game and make comments about what is happening, and the quality of it is quite good.
I really liked MASSIVE CHALICE as there was a lot to figure out on how to manage your kingdom. The combat was fun in the beginning, but after playing the game for a while and figuring out how it all works, it does seem to get quite repetitive with an optimal strategy. Managing the kingdom felt the same way, and when you figure out an optimal research path, you can make the game stupidly easy even on the harder difficulties. In other words, the game is fun the first time you play through it, but any replayability that the game has is diminished by how easy it can be and the repetitiveness it has. The music and sound effects definitely added to the game, especially the little tune that plays when you finish a level or level up a hero.