Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Massive Chalice - 2/20 hours

Massive Chalice makes the curious choice of trying to explain the player's actions in terms of the narrative. Strategy games usually make this delicate compromise with reality, where the player is a disembodied presence, able to influence battlefields and the course of nations, but is not actually a force within the setting. Your successful strategies are the tides of serendipity or an abstraction of an elaborate command structure going on off screen. If the game acknowledges your presence, then it has to explain how one person can have a near-omniscient knowledge of the strategic situation and can endure through the ages. If you're a strategy game veteran, you're used to overlooking this genre convention, which makes it astonishingly clunky when a game tries to subvert it.

Basically, the titular massive chalice is a magical item with exactly the right properties to make you into the typical strategy game commander - your spirit is bound to it so that you don't age, but that means you can't leave the throne room and have to rely on casting your senses around the kingdom with the help of the chalice's clairvoyant waters. Also, it can completely resolve the plot, but it has to charge up for an amount of time exactly equal to the game's time limit. It's extremely silly.

I'm not that cynical about it, though. In addition to being perfectly suited to the mechanics of the game, the chalice is also a character in the game - or maybe it's two. It has a male and a female voice and the voices will converse with each other (and even occasionally disagree), so if the chalice is a single mind, it is a complex one. Regardless of its true nature, the chalice's commentary is, so far, a welcome addition to the game. It will crack the occasional joke, console you when your characters die and offer tutorial advice. I still have about 270 years of a 300 year war to go, and it remains to be seen whether the chalice will wear out its welcome in that time, but for now I'm enjoying it.

I may have to start over, however, because I've been making decisions in ignorance that are likely to lead to problems down the road. I didn't realize that Massive Chalice runs off of a weird Lamarckian evolution and that if you want your next generation of heroes to have a certain class, you have to arrange a marriage between parents of the appropriate class. If I don't turn things around quick, hunters may go extinct.  Then again, maybe I'll lose and the Cadence will overwhelm me and I'll be able to start fresh. I'll give it another couple of hours before I make a decision.

PS - I really don't like that the main weapon for the melee fighter class is the caber. I've been known to be whimsical from time to time, but this is too silly even for me. Why on earth would I want to save a kingdom whose great martial tradition is charging at people with sharpened logs?

1 comment:

  1. The caber was just the right amount of silly for me.