Author’s Note: I was a backer of Massive Chalice’s Kickstarter way back when. Take that as you may.
I fell in love with Massive Chalice as soon as I heard the design behind it. It’s an XCOM-like game where you must choose between putting your best soldiers on the battlefield or retire them to sire a new generation of would-be heroes. Time is both your greatest resource and detriment as you research and construct new buildings to help you on the battlefield while an encroaching enemy threatens all the progress you’ve made. The combination of building, battling, and breeding is clearly presented, with a crisp art style and simplified tutorial. I felt almost completely in control from year one.
Your regents, those retired soldiers who are giving birth to the next generation, must be chosen carefully to have offspring properly prepared for decades of war. Choose the wrong regents and their children could be a class you already have plenty of and could be underleveled. Research into new armor and weapons has to be chosen carefully to best fit into the classes you bring into each battle or you’re wasting time.
With Massive Chalice the default, medium, difficulty setting feels just right for me. I’ve lost heroes in battle here and there but at nearly 150 years into my playthrough on the Xbox One I feel mostly in control. For hardcore strategy nerds there are different levels of difficulty and an iron man mode included, but the combat is fun no matter the classes you choose, which is great since I accidentally bred out hunters from my world.
From top to bottom there’s clearly something special about Massive Chalice. The art makes those complicated systems seem more manageable and enjoyable. I feel in charge when everything’s going my way and at fault when one of my heroes dies or I’m losing ground to the enemy. For me XCOM was always just out of my reach, I was interested but it never fully grabbed my attention. Massive Chalice has grabbed me by the shirt collar and dragged me into a wonderful world. I hope not to come back for at least a little while.