My Top Ten Games of 2015
I’m doing my annual Game of the Year list a bit differently this year. For starters I’m posting it a few weeks earlier than usual. In years past I rely on a small influx from the Holidays to help round out the list, but it delays my ranking until about mid-January. While I may be missing a few key games, I’d barely be able to play them enough to give a measured opinion.
Secondly, I’m breaking up my Top Ten list. To create a fun bit of excitement I’ll be posting the next entry on my Top Ten Games of the Year each day, starting today. My full Top Ten list and category awards will then be posted on Christmas Eve. Like all my lists, I’ll be starting with #10!
#10 MASSIVE CHALICE
Despite some controversy that surrounded the campaign of Double Fine’s first Kickstarter project, I was proud to be a backer. I loved the documentary that 2PP produced, and Broken Age was a fun throwback adventure game. Thus when Double Fine announced a second Kickstarter project for a genre that was even more in my wheelhouse (tactical-strategy) I was all over it.
I’m pleased to report that I made another great decision. MASSIVE CHALICE (which must always be capitalized) is an interesting combination of XCOM‘s tactical combat with a trait-breeding generational meta game.
You fight a war with a demonic army that lasts hundreds of years. Even your best and strongest warriors will eventually succumb to old age if they manage to survive that long. Setting up Game of Thrones-style family keeps allows you them to raise the next generation of warriors and scholars. Veterans can pass on powerful family relics when they die, incentivizing you to create a team from each established house.
The meat of the game lies in the tactical combat, which draws heavy inspiration from XCOM‘s move-and-shoot rhythm. The action is well balanced between melee and ranged attacks. Heroes level up and gain new abilities, and most importantly start at a higher level with better parents. Each hero also has a combination of traits and personalities that they learn from their parents or in battle, creating a fun bit of randomization and strategical planning.
The overall story is just an excuse to wage war against the timeless threat, but random little story missions that pop up are a fun diversion. The real treat is the art style. The sharp angles and polygons mix well with the painted style of the map and battlefields. The time-themed demons are likewise far different than your usual horned and cloven fiends.
I’m a huge fan of this admittedly niche genre, and I feel like 2012 XCOM brought in a lot of new fans. MASSIVE CHALICE never did get a lot of fanfare, but it deserves a lot of praise for being a successful Kickstarter indie game that delivered on its concept, and created a very fun, infinitely replayable tactical experience. Definitely one to try while we all wait for XCOM 2!