In most fantasy games you’re plopped down in a world full of history, lineage, and politics that could be taught in their own college-level courses. It’s easy to get swept away in the epic lines of kings and queens or the old treasures handed down through a family line, but what if you were responsible for that history? What if you could choose the heroes who would be honored, if you could see every epic battle the bards would sing about? Double Fine’s Massive Chalice attempts to organically create a history of this epic scope and does so by backing its game with hefty statistics and a deep well of information. Unfortunately, there is so much math happening so quickly, Massive Chalice forgets to make you care about the people you are saving.

You start off by selecting five houses to be part of your vanguard – a five person team who will defend the realm from an invading evil called the Cadence. There’s a missed opportunity here to allow players to custom-make their houses and give them a sense of ownership, but that privilege is exclusive to a certain tier of Kickstarter backers. Once you’ve selected your houses and been crowned as an immortal king, you jump into your first battle.


The turn-based strategy combat of Massive Chalice is frequently rewarding and satisfying. Choosing a good mix of the three available classes (alchemists, caberjacks, and hunters) is important and the sub-classes ensure that you always feel like you’re learning something new about your vanguard. Strategically shifting your characters around the maps, searching for the invading Cadence, then laying waste to them with variety of skills requires discipline and patience. It was rare I lost a battle, but a few times my party was decimated with only a lone warrior surviving. The dynamics of these battles, and learning how to handle the Cadence variations makes sure that no two battles feel alike.

You can use the down time in between battles to build new structures in your controlled territory, research new weapons and items, and train the future leaders of your realm. Raising a generation for the future is the most important aspect of Massive Chalice. You do this by building keeps which you can give to any of your available heroes. Once you’ve given a keep to a family, the keep must remain within the royal family. Players assign the regent of the territory and give them a partner, hoping they quickly get ‘busy’ propagating successors. Keeping warm bodies in all of these positions is important, after all. Heroes can even be more than your vanguard or rulers; they can join the Sagewrights Guild and contribute toward your research or take up the post at the Crucible and help train future heroes.


The drawback to this is that Massive Chalice is so busy pushing along the timeline – aging regents and replacing them with new generations – you can’t grow attached to any of the characters. You may remember that one house supplies your hunters while another supplies your caberjacks, or that one house is fruitful while another needs to spend more time in the bedroom, but you are too detached to care about anyone. If they’re lucky, warriors might survive a battle or two with the Cadence (who come roughly every ten years), but in the long run they’re just names to go down in the history books.

While the game has plenty of style and charm, it doesn’t forge a connection between the player and the world they’re overseeing. As an immortal king living through ages upon ages of humanity, you quickly grow cold and disinterested in their personal plights. The game constantly forces you into the mindset of ‘whatever is best for the kingdom.’ And because you’re so busy caring about the realm as a whole, you never have time to care about the people. It leaves Massive Chalice feeling a little soulless and forgettable. Here I am, having just finished the game, and I couldn’t tell you the name of any characters or the heroic stories of their deaths.

Massive Chalice also suffers from some technical issues. I only had a couple of crashes playing on the Xbox One leading up the final battle, but the game’s climactic battle crashed numerous times in a row. I found myself saving before every round for fear the game would abruptly fail again.


Overall, Massive Chalice is good fun. Battling the Cadence and managing your kingdom is challenging in a good way and watching your heroes’ strength and number grow is satisfying. Those who love getting lost in the numbers of roleplaying games will find that the title boasts deep information about each character in your realm.

Unfortunately, these numbers are what come to define Massive Chalice. The historical lore of your world fails to lend it feels authenticity, leaving it feeling like a calculated one born of statistics. For those eager to enjoy mathematical strategy, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for in Massive Chalice, but the game misses evolving into anything more interesting.