Massive Chalice: Family matters as permadeath proves that blood is thicker than slaughter

Final Fantasy: XCOM. Sounds good, no? From the outside, that’s what this looks like. Action figure like minions navigate gridded isometric battlefields via turn-based strategy combat, meshed together with high concept classes and lovely artistic visuals. But Double Fine’s latest works doubly hard to ensure its permadeath nature feels as harrowing as possible.

In a mystical kingdom a powerful force of evil, the Cadence, has torn through the lands. now only a small untouched portion of the world remains, surrounded by the toxic clouds of this mysterious foe. In this fledgeling world is the titular Chalice, a giant omnipotent cup with split personalities. as its chosen king, made immortal to sit forever upon the throne, you're tasked with organising the familial bloodlines of a group of heroes, and sending them to defend your lands.

Whereas in XCOM your squaddies were only ever at the mercy of invading aliens, here your heroes must face both unknowable monsters and their own ageing bodies. years pass in the blink of an eye between missions, and you need to carefully manage your kingdom’s Houses to ensure their ongoing survival. Heroes’ traits pass down from parent to child too, so there’s even more incentive to keep families alive. Lose a young hero in Chalice and you don’t just surrender them, but their entire future brood.

Holy Grail
Whenever the gong signalling a battle sounds, however, much of this conceptual promise is lost.There isn’t, as yet, sufficient depth on offer when it comes to your own fighters. The enemies have self detonating skills, armour buffing abilities and all feel vastly different from anything we’ve seen before. But the hero classes of alchemist, Caberjack and Hunter (you can call them Mage, Warrior and rogue if you like) can do little aside from rush up and attack en masse.

as it stands, there’s half of an incredibly involving game here. If Double Fine can inject a bit of variety into the heroes before launch then this has a chance of growing up to match its various impressive inspirations.

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