PC, Xbox One
Orange is the new black, at least when it comes to videogame corruption. First Xbox One brought us Sunset Overdrive’s tartrazine monstrosities, and now Double Fine’s strategy-game-cum-genealogy-manipulator is driven by a threat called the Cadence that nibbles away at its beleaguered fantasy kingdom with vivid tangerine ooze. As usual, you are called upon to save the realm, which here means defending it on the field of turn-based battle until the colossal sentient cup has charged its world-saving power. Unlike usual, however, your party won’t be polishing this quest off in a few days and then propping up their +5 boots of foot odour at the local brewhouse – it’s going to take generations to get the job done.
At least these aeons won’t be dull. As you’d expect from a game that swaps the usual evil-forces palette (lich purple, nonemore-black, demonic red) for chunder orange, Massive Chalice is colourful in all senses of the word. One of the earliest choices is between joke names and serious ones for the heroic bloodlines under your command, and every character is rendered in a charmingly chunky faux-low-poly style that carries over to the often brightly hued maps. The fighting that takes place upon them borrows its basic mechanics from Firaxis’s XCOM, though simplified to the base constituents of a twopart catchment area for movement – keep within the orange zone to follow up your move with an action, while pushing into the larger white area consumes that unit’s turn – and growing bars of unit abilities, with cover and tiered structures absent. Also gone, sadly, is the vague indication of where enemies are when you’re lost, which can gum up the pace.
Tactical complexity here instead relies on the interplay between enemies and the hero classes, lent further nuance by the genes of the individuals at hand. Broadly, Caberjacks are your tanks and heavy hitters, specialising in swinging a thwacking great log at anything foolish enough to get close. Hunters carry shoulder-mounted bows as tall as a human and double as scouts via a camouflaging
Being a Kickstarterfunded project,
Massive Chalice has been subject to input from its backers. And while the gaming community is often not given much credit for its inclusiveness, it was a forum thread that brought up the lack of gay marriage in the game back in mid-2013. Project lead Brad Muir and the team have responded in the very best way possible: by not only adding the option to partner up same-sex couples, but thinking about ways to make them work in a design that revolves around childbirth. They can now care for children that need adopting, or you can simply retire two guys or girls in the same structure and ship them together yourself. It’s not in your face, and no one has to engage with it, but its presence here is a sign some players do want to progress beyond blanket heteronormativity.
Cadence invasions tend to come in multiple locations at once, so whichever you react to leaves another spot in worsening condition. Each region can take three unchecked attacks, leaving you to balance peril levels with the mission rewards
FROM TOP Seeds are the Cadence’s basic foot soldier, weak on their lonesome, but able to slaughter a hero in large numbers; Ruptures, meanwhile, rush to your troops and then explode, spreading corrosive gloop