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Video Game / Massive Chalice

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Massive Chalice is a Turn-Based Strategy game developed by Double Fine; the brain-child of Brad Muir who previously brought us Iron Brigade, and is the second Double Fine game funded by Kickstarter. Following on from the more open development approach of Broken Age the team broadcasted public "live-team-steams" fortnightly; they discussed new ideas, cut material and progress (these are archived on Double Fine's Twitch channel). A full fledged documentary by 2PlayerProductions is also being finalized. It was finally released on June 1st, 2015 for PC and Xbox One.

The player takes control of the immortal ruler, an overseer to a mythical kingdom under a prolonged war against corruption demons (Cadence), manipulating the bloodlines of the land's heroes to sire stronger warriors to combat the ever increasing threat of the demon incursion.


Massive Chalice provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Ruptures approach your heroes and then explode into acid, causing damage, weakening their defenses and leaving a dangerous pool on the ground.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Keep missions sees you fighting off an invading force; lose and you lose the keep and everything in it.
  • Area of Effect: The Alchemist bombs that have a cross section but their bee bombs really take this to the extreme expanding up to 10 tiles before it dissipates.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Fallen heroes have a chance of creating a relic that can be passed on down through their bloodlines; giving stat boosts and other bonuses.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can have multiple heroes lying around but you can only pick five to go into battles.
  • Ballistic Bone: The Bulwards fire bone shards. You can research your own bone firing weapon to get your own back.
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  • Creature-Breeding Mechanic: You must partake in a hero breeding mechanic, where you, as the immortal ruler of the realm, must decide which heroes and heroines defending the lands have to retire to their castles, intermarry and produce a new lineup of young heroes who inherit some of their old folks' powers and generally become stronger with each generation.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Craftily utilized due to the tight budget; all levels so far only have a minimum number of objects necessary with liberal use of rotation and size variation giving the impression of unique objects.
  • Demonic Invaders: The Cadence.
  • Doing Research: As time progresses you will unlock demonic weapons; these have unique bonuses and draw-backs but can't become relics.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Cadence all look suitably bizarre with one having the "head" of an orb held up by multiple arms sprouting from it's neck.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Amusingly the player can become this. Coldly selecting "favourable" traits for the heroes they retire, while throwing those with undesirable traits into harms way, or completely out of the way into research. In some effort to curb this the devs separated traits into genetic and personality; so you may keep somebody that is a slow learner (less exp) but is quick footed (higher evasion).
  • Evolving Weapon: Relics gain XP just like Heroes, which allow them to convey better and better bonuses as they rank up.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Chalice is massive and is indeed a chalice.
  • Final Death Mode: Ironman mode, saves after every action, is optional for all difficulty levels.
  • Generational Saga
  • Going Through the Motions: Repeatably mentioned in the "team-streams"; wherever possible every character uses the same set of animations to save time and money.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Heroes won't be wearing helmets to allow you to see character traits that will vary depending on their linage.
  • Heroic Lineage: A key component of the game is the careful cultivation of these a the start to provide better warriors in the end game.
  • Hold the Line:
    • The whole game is one massive one, as you battle against the Cadence for 300 years waiting for the Chalice to be powerful enough to rid the world of the Cadence.
    • The final battle is a more traditional example as you fight off hordes of enemies waiting for the Chalice to fire.
  • Human Resources: Effectively, all resources are human resources. You can only staff your research-boosting Sagecrafting guild with heroes, you need heroes to rule keeps and breed children, you need a hero to run the training guild, and, of course, you need heroes to fight.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The three core hero classes are sporting; a portable battering ram, a lacrosse craw that flings potions, and a bazooka-styled-crossbow. The hybrid classes get even weirder from there.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: One of the more extreme examples of this trope, the game has the Epic Timeline; completing the game will take several generations, at least 300 years.
  • Isometric Projection: The game is fully 3D yet the camera is constrained only to provide four different views, all giving the game this look.
  • It Kind of Looks Like a Face: The jagged stem of the Massive Chalice makes a classic face/vase illusion with the asymmetry creating two distinct faces that represent the man and woman in the chalice on the left and right respectively.
  • Level Drain: Lapses' attacks reduce your exp. Get hit enough and you'll loose a level and your skills.
  • Life Drain: Seeds leech a bit of your health every time they attack. After a while you can research your own "Leech Stone" giving you the same ability.
  • The Lost Woods: One of the five areas of the game sees you fighting in a dense mangrove.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: Sagewrights keep their stats and when their guild is attacked they're placed on the map with a simple hammer. Not terribly helpful for hunters and alchemists but if it's an experienced ex-caberjack then they'll pack quite a punch.
  • New Weird: The team have gone out of their way to avoid the common Medieval European Fantasy creating a new world with Russian and Mongol influences. The monsters are alien in design and do weird things not usually attributed to traditional monsters as well. Even the name of The Corruption is weird, "The Cadence."
  • Never Mess with Granny: That (slightly) smaller aging grey woman on the battlefield may just be the strongest thing on it! Of course using her means she can't have children.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": The hunter's massive crossbow fires only straight — in the case of one special weapon, through lines of enemies. Any sort of arcing is exclusively the domain of special attacks like an alchemist's bomb-tossing.
  • Player and Protagonist Integration: You are the immortal ruler awakened from a long slumber to lead with the cadence attacks.
  • Rated M for Manly: Despite equality among the in-game sexes the game seems to be leaning towards the similar direction of Iron Brigade.
  • Rapid Aging: Wrinklers are powerful melee attackers that increase their target's age by five years for every hit. Not so good when you're trying to squeeze as many years of usefulness out of your troops as possible.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Chalice speaks with two voices; an older, sagely male voice and a younger, enthusiastic female voice. Sometimes the voices imply they used to be normal people who went to hero school.
  • Renaissance Man: The Sagewrights, as shown in their character design, are a highly eclectic bunch. Their skills range from scholarly research, forging weapons and large scale building construction. (This is partly because "research" and "building" are one and the same thing in this game).
  • Resurrected for a Job: If one of your heroes falls in the final battle the Chalice replaces them with an ancestor. If you're doing really badly you'll end up with your original heroes.
  • Running Gag: "Sound the horn of [event]", it's even the same horn noise no matter what.
  • She Is the King: The person sitting in the throne of a keep is the Regent, and their spouse is the Partner. The regent can be a man or a woman.
  • Shifting Sand Land: One of the five areas takes place one a dried up river bed with bizarre coral-like vegatation; taking influence from real-life salt-flats.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: One of the demonic weapons features a massive cross-bow styled shotgun with reduced range.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Alpine level is populated with White Birch trees, a nod to prototype game White Birch made in Amnesia Fortnight.
    • One of the random events has the option of creating a sports team called Iron Brigade.
    • An Alchemist-hybrid class gets a double melee attack called Hack 'N' Slash.
    • Some of the relics have some pretty metal skulls on them, of course taken from Brütal Legend.
    • The Harder Than Hard difficult setting is named "Brütal" with an umlaut.
    • One of the rarer personality traits is Brazen; Muir's prototype game that he couldn't get funding for.
    • The "Endorsement" event, which sees one of your Heroes become a celebrity spokesperson, is announced with a text box titled "I'm (Hero Name) and this is my favorite..."
  • Status Effects: The corrupted tiles left by Ruptures. You can also weaponize this adding it to your Alchemist's potions.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: You better hope this becomes the case as it's directly linked to the level progression of the game. Children sired from high level parents gain a few free levels and with further training a couple more; this in turn allows them to level up past their parents and teachers, meaning that eventually their children will start with a higher level than their parents, and so on.
  • Trick Arrow: the six armed bow that fires bone shards from a particular enemy. It reduces damage but enables the "arrow" to pierce enemies hitting everything in it's path.
    • Hybrid classes gain exploding arrows and (oddly) health arrows. As well as an arrow that plants fast growing seeds as it flies; providing cover all along it's flight-path.
  • Variable Mix: Even in the early stage this was the case, thanks in no small part to the team's previous experience from Brütal Legend.


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