Massive Chalice Runneth Over Out Of Early Access

After generations of updates and patches and fixes and tweaks, Double Fine’s Massive Chalice [] has left Steam Early Access to become a properly-released game. As Marsh explained when he played the Early Access version last November, it’s a turn-based strategy game where you’ll need to to build up strong warrior bloodlines across a war lasting hundreds of years.

Between grid-based battles (Alec dubbed the game “SEXCOM” when he played), you’ll need to balance the strength of your current army with plans for the future. A strong warrior is handy in the feed, but at a certain point might be more useful married off and producing strong future fighters. What a bloody dating game! As I always say, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Massive Chalice was in Early Access for six and a bit months. Depending on whether you follow the meteorological or solar reckoning, it either made its planned spring 2015 release with weeks to spare or narrowly missed it (though was a few months behind their Kickstarter schedule). Me, I’m a sucker for equinoxes and solstices so I’ll say yes, congratulations Double Fine! After what happened to Spacebase DF9, I’m glad to see this went well.

The game’s £12.09 DRM-free on GOG with £1.60 returned in store credit, £11.99 on Steam, and comes both DRM-free and with a Steam key on the Humble Store for £11.99.

39 Comments

  1. jasta85 says:

    kickstarted this game but have yet to actually play it, figured I would wait for it to be fully released but right now the witcher 3 continues to devour my life so it’s going to have to wait a bit longer.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Who are you and why are you impersonating me?

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        That makes three of us in the same dinghy.

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          gritz says:

          Same here, but when MC first hit early access, I was getting worse frame rates than I’m getting in W3. Hopefully they’ve fixed that.

          • Xocrates says:

            Yeah, the game ran like crap on my PC on the first release, but the full release has been pretty smooth.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            I have not noticed any performance problems, unlike say…Gal Civ 3

        • Sian says:

          We’re gonna need a bigger boat at this rate.

  2. Joshua Northey says:

    It is a cool concept, but I feel they do not have the timescales right at all. Particularly the battles are so far from one to the next that you frequently only see a couple battles with any individual guy/gal, which in turn sort of undermines the investment and caring about them. Add in the fact that the people making babies cannot be fighting, and you just have so little interaction with your characters.

    Bob was born, now wait 15 years until he becomes an adult, now wait 10 years until there is a battle, wow bob is awesome, now wait 20 years until another battle. Oh look bob has now helped with two super easy battles, and now bob waits another 15 years before a keep opens up, well now he is too old for that, so I guess I will just keep him, oh look now he can retire to the academy at 60-70 once a spot opens up there and die almost immediately.

    Meanwhile you mostly give your keeps over to inexperienced 15 year olds so they will keep pumping out kids.

    • jonahcutter says:

      That was my reaction to the breeding meta game as well when I last played it months ago. I’d hoped they would of balanced it some towards more battles for the units.

      I read someone somewhere I can’t remember (might of been on an RPS thread) say that it works better if you get attached to familial lines instead of individuals. Which makes sense in theory, though I haven’t played it again to put it into practice.

      • dontnormally says:

        I’m terribly sorry, but I cannot not:

        > would of
        would have

        > might of
        might have

    • Merlin the tuna says:

      Particularly the battles are so far from one to the next that you frequently only see a couple battles with any individual guy/gal, which in turn sort of undermines the investment and caring about them.

      To a certain extent, that’s intended – the idea is to get attached to the Bloodline (ie gradually improving the gene pool and building up relics) rather than to heroes, who are transient and frequently replaceable. There is still some push and pull on the parentage piece though, because higher level regents, partners, and standards yield stronger trainees. So if you’re frequently putting raw 15 year olds on the throne, you’re probably getting more units overall, but their overall progression is slower than if you’re carefully timing things to install people as the near middle age.

      It’s far from perfect, but there’s actually a fair bit going on under the hood.

  3. Epicedion says:

    Maybe this time they won’t get 5% through their list of proposed features and then suddenly flip the version to 1.0 and declare they’re never working on it again.

    • Yachmenev says:

      What are you talking about? The game is done. Every planned feature is in there, the game is released in the form it was intended to be, and is getting pretty good reviews.

      • RutigerP says:

        gah post trigger! Look down for my reply

      • Crafter says:

        Haven’t you heard ? They are going to remove 95% of the features and abandon the game.

  4. RutigerP says:

    “this time” -> spacebase DF9

  5. Haxton Fale says:

    With this particular graphical style, font, menus, and almost everything, I can’t help but think of Endless Legend.

    • Muppetizer says:

      Yup, and the triangles everywhere also make me think of Dungeon of the Endless, which is always a good thing.

  6. Bull0 says:

    Great song, I used to have an MP3 of Rob Thomas and Adam from Counting Crows doing that live. Ah, the 90s.

    I’ve got Massive Chalice, I’ve played for a couple of hours during EA, I backed the kickstarter. My general impression is that it’s a bit crap. The ability to customise the houses would help a lot – and honestly I got the impression from the KS pitch that it would be a feature, but seemingly it’s been kept to “bloodline backers” only now.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Yes not being able to customize the houses was a terrible design choice.

      • Crafter says:

        I understand why they gave this as a backer perks and it makes sense but the result is very poor.
        I would very largely preferred a pool of ~100 houses written by DF.
        The Names, banners and mottos written by the backer are mostly terribad.

  7. xyzzy frobozz says:

    Am I the only one who thinks “Massive Phallus” every time I see the name?

    This game is going to have to review extremely well before I’ll give it a go. Normally (with over 500 games in my library) I’m happy to try games out for myself. But after the DF-9 debacle, I have Double Fine on a very, very short lead.

    • Xocrates says:

      Define extremely well.

      Reviews so far seem to range from “Good” to “Great”, and I’ve personally been surprised by how much I’m enjoying it so far.

      Also, the game probably had the smoothest Kickstarter/Early access story I’ve ever seen, so the constant comparisons to DF-9 feel not only tiresome, but outright unfair – especially if we take into account that DF actually had to let go people soon after the DF-9 “launch”, including its lead designer.

      • welverin says:

        You and your ‘logic’ have no place on the internet.

        Go away please.

      • xyzzy frobozz says:

        How is comparing two games from the exact same company unfair?

        Double Fine burnt me once, I’m hesitant to spend money with them again.

        • Xocrates says:

          It’s comparing the circumstances that are unfair, not the games.

          Massive Chalice got its funding from Kickstarter and planned its development based on that money, and went into early access essentially feature complete, using it mostly for balance testing a polish. It never over promised, and delivered on what it did promise. The game is now complete and has a full release.

          Despite this, you’re comparing it to a game made by a separate team, that was planning on long term development through early access, with the sales going to actually fund said ongoing development. It then failed to sell enough to cover said development costs after releasing a roadmap that accounted for money they never got. To top it off, during its development an unannounced publisher paid project got cancelled that left DF in financial troubles, and probably made the continuing development of DF9 unsustainable – in traditional development, the game would probably have just been quietly cancelled, or released “as is” but with no roadmap in sight.

          Did DF screw up with DF9? Certainly.

          But this is not DF9, this is a fully featured game, by a different team, with a full release, developed under optimal circumstances. And yet people keep comparing it to an unfinished game, that was “released” under duress.

        • Yachmenev says:

          What more can you ask from Double Fine, then that they redeem themselves with their next product? Like they have done here?

          Peoples obsession with Spacebase is starting to be borderline pathetic. Their screw up cost people somewhere between $5-$20 (which Double Fine then gave another free game as a compenstation for). Yet people act like DF ran off with peoples life savings or something similiar.

          Spacebase was a mistake, but people seriously need to get over it. Shit happens, mistakens happen, and unless it’s something life changing, then what counts is what comes next, and they have done well with Massive Chalice.

        • Xocrates says:

          Perhaps a simpler way to put it: You either judge each game individually, or you keep circumstances in mind.

          If you do not wish to account for the differing circumstances, then stop judging this game based on a completely different one.

  8. ts061282 says:

    I’m disappointed by the art style. This looks much too cool. I was hoping for something more like a cross between Triple Town and Rogue Legacy, with cute, iconic family members dwarfed by the game world.Like a cute Crusader Kings 2. Also, modern tactics game play is tedious and abstractly contrived. I like Tim Schafer as a person from what I’ve seen in his promotional videos, but he seems awfully beholden to popular conceptions given his claim of indie-ness.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, it’s not really appealing to me for the same reasons. However I didn’t back it so whatever, hopefully it brings fun and joy to lots of other people!

    • Xocrates says:

      I honestly cannot tell if you’re joking or not.

      At no point did they imply a cartoony art style, and in fact concept art in the same style as the game is all over the kickstarter page. The team actually went out of its way to create a unique art style and setting.

      Also, while Tim Schafer is the face of Double Fine, he had essentially nothing to do with this. The designer was Brad Muir, which was previously responsible for Iron Brigade.

      • ts061282 says:

        I’m not joking.

        These are pretty cartoony:
        link to static.giantbomb.com
        link to rockpapershotgun.com

        Unlike most of the art you can find now, these were some of the few initially presented.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          You’re kinda reaching there. The first image is some super rough early concept art (from the kickstarter if memory serves) meant to illustrate the idea of a world map and the second is a doodle caricature of Double Fine staffers, not concept art. At no point was either of those presented as the final intended art-style. If you watched any of the dev streams they went into the development of the visuals in great detail.

          Whether you like the end result or not it’s certainly not a standard look.

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            If you want to compare what they promised and what they delivered, use this: link to doublefine.com

            That was the main concept/inspirational image they used in the campaign (by Derek Brand, who did all the concept work for the actual game). Something is always lost in translation in the transition from concept to game, especially with 3D (and isometric), but I think they got pretty close.

          • ts061282 says:

            No. You’re reaching.

          • Crafter says:

            wow, thanks for reposting that last concept.
            I saw it during the campaign and totally forgot it afterwards. It is interesting to see how the final design relates to this concept.

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            >No. You’re reaching.

            Sound reasoning, tsNumbers. Seriously if you don’t understand that a quick doodle to illustrate a design concept doesn’t represent an intended art style I don’t know what to tell you.

  9. dogoncrook says:

    I realise this is a pc focused site but you can pick it up for free on Xbox one with a gold membership, not sure about the 360.