Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Massive Chalice

Rating: 7.9

Happy Price: 9.99


A strategy game that emphasizes marrying bloodlines and strengthening the genetic pool for a battle that lasts 300 years. The player is required to pay attention to genetic and personality traits that will influence the stats of future heroes for years to come. A bad trait such as "slow learner" from a mother can influence 6 children and dilute your genetic pool.


There are three core types of classes: Melee, Archer, and Alchemist. Through breeding hybrids can be created from these beginning three. The melee class known as caberjacks wield higher armor than the other classes but early on in the game are susceptible to death if not used carefully. Enemies will gang up on them if left out to dry. The archer class known as a hunter wields a bow and has powerful ranged attacks. They are especially important in the beginning of the game, but towards the end lose their value. The alchemist creates potions that create area effect damage and are probably the most powerful class if paired with caberjacks. 

This is a turn based game that uses tiles as the means for navigation. It's the exact same formula as XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and at times feels exactly the same but at times in inferiorly designed. Attacking from behind does not influence damage, and at times there is a "glancing blow" that will result in 1 or 2 damage but the player is never told why that happens. It seems random and can be frustrating when planning an attack. A game with such harsh consequences of losing a hero (gone forever) has to offer more feedback to the player and allow for strategy to ensue. 


This is probably the most fun part of the game, but then becomes completely irrelevant at around year 220 and beyond, which are the hardest parts of the game. Examining personality traits and pairing them up with another to see the result is just fun, and is one of those moments you get to play god (sort of). The resulting traits from two parents are predictable most of the time, but there are times when an unexpected trait happens in a child. Between year 220 and 240 I had 3 sets of heroes completely wiped out due to what seemed like impossible map setups. Losing 15/26 heroes is scary and demoralizing, and at that point the game became a burden. One map resulted in having 7 enemies on the map that have a powerful attack that does tons of damage (2 hits will kill a hero), reduces XP, and causes a skill cooldown. To add, there were 2 enemies that spawn seedlings and have a powerful area attack. Not to mention that enemy gets two turns, one to spawn an enemy and then one to attack the player. When that enemy is killed, it spawns three more enemies in the location it died. How can anyone compete with that while having only 5 heroes in the field at a time?

The third battle I had this experience in row, I realized breeding was no longer going to win anything. I was forced to "Search for new heroes" which resulted in getting near max level heroes and it allowed me to complete the game. I just don't understand why there would be such a sudden shift in difficulty at that point in the game. 


I did not mind the cartoony art style, and since it was consistent I enjoyed it. It made me feel like it was done on purpose to render low polys to accomadate the amount of data that was being interpreted by the processor and gains the ability of having lots of enemies on screen. It offers a lightness to the game that counters the harsh consequences and seriousness of gameplay, so that you are not so depressed when demolished in battle. In the final battle though there were some serious frame rate issues which would make the game awful to play. At times the game would freeze there were so much polygons being rendered. I had three alchemist on the board that could spawn pillirs and foliage for cover. Couple that with about 20 enemies on screen and the Xbox One could not handle it. I had to save my game in the middle of battle out of fear that the game was about to crash. From an aesthetic point of view it was pleasing, technically there is some work to be done. How did this miss during QA?


The background music is nice and fit the game well. There is a lot of time spent waiting for time itself to pass and this was not a bad experience. There are scripted voiceovers that occur at certain points in the game and they feel organic. I don't think every player will have the same experience as their are points in the game decisions are made that result in a different voice or line used. I appreciated the effort put into this. The sound effects of combat are rewarding and punchful. A bomb feels like a bomb, and a hit from a caberjack feels intense. The audio is a high point for this game. 

Conclusion: You are better off playing a game like XCOM: Enemy Unknown for a $20 price point. There are some really cool things done in this game like the lineages created but at times you feel cheated by the level design. I got this game for free, and the 20 hours I put into it were worth it. I had a good experience but if I paid for this game I would be annoyed I wasted my time.

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