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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:
    • Alchemist-derived classes specialize in area damage, with each sibling class having access to either bombs or powerful explosive attacks. These range in size from cross-shaped explosions from lightweight flasks to bee bombs that gradually extend to 10 tiles. Their Cadence armor also causes them to explode (safely to themselves) whenever they're hit.
    • Bulwarks and their derived Cadence weapon, the Bone Barb Bow, fire piercing projectiles that damage enemies in a straight line.
    • Caberjacks have the Logjam ability, which deals damage to adjacent targets, and their ability to control unit positioning by pushing units around (or into each other) gives Caberjacks de facto area control, even if a regular push only affects at most two enemies.
  • 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. Relics will grow more powerful as their wielders gain experience points.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can have multiple heroes lying around but you can only pick five to go into battles.
  • Ballistic Bone: The Bulwarks fire bone shards. You can research your own bone firing weapon to get back at them.
  • 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: The game was made on a small budget, and only has a handful of levels. To compensate for this, each level is divided into sections that will be randomly walled off to create a unique environment each time a battle takes place on it.
  • Demonic Invaders: The Cadence, a kind of corruption of unknown origin that seems to be tied to negative emotions.
  • 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. The Cradle, for instance, has an orb for a head that is held up by multiple arms sprouting from its neck.
  • Eternal Recurrence: Hinted at during the start of the game. At the end of the game, the Chalice reveals that the Cadence will keep coming and that you only bought the kingdom peace for a time — but as long as the Chalice is reforged, life will continue.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The player can become this by coldly selecting "favorable" traits for the heroes they retire, while throwing those with undesirable traits into harms way, or completely out of the way by inducting them into the Sagewright's Guild as researchers. In some effort to curb this the developers separated traits into genetic traits and personality traits, the former of which can be inherited from parents and the latter from environmental factors.
  • Evolving Weapon: Relics gain experience 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: IRON mode, which saves after every action, is optional for all difficulty levels.
  • Generational Saga: The game takes place over 300 years and requires the player to manage the bloodlines of noble houses to ensure the kingdom has enough Cadence-resistant soldiers to defend it.
  • Going Through the Motions: 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 at 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 Sagewright guilds with heroes, you need heroes to rule Keeps and breed children, you need heroes to run the Crucibles, and, of course, you need heroes to fight.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Hunters use bazooka-style crossbows.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The three core class archetypes sport: a portable battering ram, a lacrosse craw that flings potions, and a bazooka-style crossbow.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The game clock counts days and years elapsed. The goal is to survive 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 in the negative space that represent the man and woman in the Chalice on the left and right respectively.
  • Level Drain: Lapses' attacks reduce your heroes' experience points. Get hit enough and they lose a level and potentially their 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.
  • Medieval Stasis: The world is implied to be stuck in one. It is implied that when the Chalice finishes charging and detonates it acts as a Reset Button by killing anything connected to it — which includes your Sagewrights, who are by all accounts responsible for all the technological advancement of the kingdom.
  • 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. Technically, though, using her means she won't have children, unless she was a Partner to a Regent who died.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": The Hunters' massive crossbow fires only straight — and in the case of the Bone Barb Bow, straight through lines of enemies. Any sort of arcing is exclusively the domain of special attacks like the Alchemists' bomb-tossing.
  • Player and Protagonist Integration: You are the immortal ruler bound to the titular Chalice at the start of the game who is periodically awakened from a long slumber to deal with the Cadence attacks.
  • 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 to forging weapons to large scale building construction. This is partly because "research" and "building" are one and the same thing in this game.
  • Reset Button Ending: Implied to be the reason every new run starts from scratch — anything tied to the Chalice gets wiped out, and that's most of the things you worked on. This sets up the player's next campaign.
  • 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]!", followed by the exact same horn every time.
  • 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 vegetation; 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 Bone Barb Bow fires bone shards from Bulwarks. It reduces damage but enables the "arrow" to pierce enemies, hitting everything in its path.
    • Hybrid classes gain exploding arrows, item delivery arrows, blinding arrows and arrows that plant fast growing seeds as they fly, providing cover all along their 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.