by Marcus Estrada
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]ouble Fine hit it way out of the park with their first Kickstarter – Double Fine Adventure. Even with that game pending release at the time, the developer set up another campaign. Massive Chalice looked to be an intense new XCOM-like strategy title and again drew tons of funding. After that runaway success in 2013 the game is finally in playable form on Steam. Of course, it’s not done yet so it’s currently wearing the Early Access moniker. How does the game fare right now?
Despite being a recent Early Access addition, Massive Chalice is already fully playable. If you have the drive and skill then you can definitely create a kingdom, fight off attackers, and last to the end years. Your goal is to ensure that your people can survive in these dangerous times by managing their lives. You play matchmaker to pair up suitable partners and wait for their children to grow up. This seemingly oddball design decision actually has impressive results. Players must always watch genetic traits, health conditions, and other habits before making a selection. If you can “breed” strong characters it will help you much more than creating sickly ones.
Creating powerful new characters is necessary as they are the ones you’ll take out to battle. Up to five team members are allowed at any one time and you’ll definitely want a full batch. This is because battle segments are incredibly tough. They’re also turn-based. First, you move your characters a certain distance along a hex grid and then wait out enemy movements. Unfortunately, many enemies will spot you before you ever spot them! Learning how to use the fight system takes a bit of time, but eventually you’ll be formulating good strategies to safely explore the field.
Each party member also offers their own skillset depending on what class they are. Some are best at long range, while others can only perform short range attacks. Keeping at least one of each type in a team is integral. After all, it would be incredibly painful to hit a level with exploding enemies when you’ve only got melee guys and gals. This would leave them getting hurt constantly thanks to corrosive exploding damage. So despite the current stage of development Massive Chalice already has some seriously strategy in place as well as its core character progression aspect.
So what about the game is holding it back from release? Well, there’s a lot that simply isn’t there yet in terms of quality. Balancing still requires heavy tweaking. As of now the early stages are often the hardest while surviving over 100 years means you’re in for a cakewalk in the next centuries. Of course, there are bugs aplenty as well. In my case there were times the game’s background would flash violently without stopping until I turned the game off entirely. This was not a widely reported issue but random things like this are not rarities. Beyond that it seems the game is not yet optimized for PCs, leading many to complain of slowdown and related problems.
In regards to actual gameplay there’s also simply not a good enough tutorial in place yet. Sure, there is some initial help but many things you’ll simply have to discover by accident. If you’re still interested in playing then I’d suggest reading through the official Double Fine forum or Steam Community Hub to bulk up your gameplay knowledge. There is definitely a nugget of goodness already present in Massive Chalice. It’s so easy to see that it could become something incredible. As of right now you would probably do best to wait out the final (or at least later) version.
Having a little trouble getting through Massive Chalice? Make sure you check out our Massive Chalice Un-Strategy Guide!
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg”]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]