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Diecast #140: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Massive Chalice, The Witness

By Shamus
on Monday Feb 8, 2016
Filed under:


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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster. Episode edited by Rachel.

Yes, the topics for this week look a lot like the topics for last week, but I promise this is a new episode.

We haven’t kept careful track of episode lengths, but I’m pretty sure that sometime in the last few weeks we reached the point where there is now a full week of Diecast. That is, it would take a full week of continuous listening to play through the whole show.

Show notes:
00:00:55: Tomb Raider

I start off announcing that we’re going to spoil everything, and then… I’m not sure if we do? Certainly nothing major.

00:18:26: Tomb Raider (Spoilers)

Once again I declare a live-fire exercise with regards to spoilers, and once again we don’t really reveal much.

Part of the problem is that the game is very trope-driven and very little in the story should surprise you. And the things that do surprise you aren’t delightful surprises, but rather head scratchers like, “Really? That dude is here? I thought he exited the story hours ago. Oh well. That’s nice I guess.”

00:25:24: Massive Chalice

Link (YouTube)

00:34:16: The Witness

No spoilers here. I’m not even sure you can spoil this game. Spoiling it would require understanding what’s going on at some level, and I’m at no risk of that happening.

00:52:48: Mailbag

Dear Josh,

Did you ever figure out to use PB Blaster for your plumbing problem? What have you been cooking recently? When will we hear more exploits from the Everyday Life of Josh Viel?

My apologies to everyone else,

00:53:56: Mailbag

Dear Spoilers,

Has doing Spoiler Warning changed the way you look at video games as a whole? If so, howz?


Comments (56)

  1. Da Mage says:

    Rutskarn, why are you not playing XCOM 2. Seriously. The Earth needs you.

    Also unrelated: Could someone update the spoiler warning page (where you have all the current/past seasons) with the last 20 or so episodes for KoTOR? I’m catching up and it’s getting to be a real pain to click through from the 20th episode to where I am up to watching.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      XCOM2 would surely make a good spoiler warning season…

    • Grimwear says:

      On the note about Xcom 2 is it great? I’ve read a lot of the steam reviews and it always ends up with the same here are some issues, then everyone turns around and yells at him that he’s dumb and you can fix that with a mod so why does it matter. I personally loved the reboot and Enemy Within but I read that nearly every mission has a specific amount of turns to complete now. Is that true? If so it makes me sad since it kind of defeats the purpose of slow and methodical which is how I like to play my turn based strategy games. I mean in EW I didn’t mind the turn count for bomb defusal and I do adore the St. John’s mission in Canada with the Chrysallids but it’s a mechanic I don’t mind having appear a couple times for tension purposes but every mission? Suddenly I’m being to forced to rush and my personal enjoyment is diminished greatly.

      • Da Mage says:

        After playing for many hours now (steam says 36) I can say the only thing that bothered me is the turn counter, but I don’t think it was bad idea, just needs a little refinement. I’ve only lost one mission where I got an unlucky spawn position for the objective which made it impossible to hack from distance.

        The turn counter is only there on certain types of missions, these are your guerrilla missions, where you normally have to achieve some task before the timer runs out. A lot of the time, it’s just like “You need to hack this objective” once you hack it (which certain classes can do from distance) you have as much time as you need to kill the rest of the enemies. The other type is VIP rescue/escort where you need to get the VIP and all your squad to an evac point before the time is up. With this you can stealth around a bit before making a mad dash to the evac point since leaving aliens doesn’t matter.

        One of the most popular mods for fixing the timer is simply so that it doesn’t start until your squad is revealed. Which adds a turn or two and allows you to set up a really good ambush to start. I don’t use it myself though.

        But all the story missions, the new terror missions (though cilivians dying does put a bit of a clock on them) and various defend objective missions don’t have timers. I’d say the spilt is somewhere around 60% timed, 40% not.

        Overall though, all the new improvements are really fun to play and it feels like a much better game to play.

        • Ranneko says:

          Even some things without explicit timers have implicit ones. Protect the thing missions for example, where an enemy shoots it every turn unless you have engaged them all, in which one of them MAY shoot it. Or retaliation missions where a civilian will be targeted every turn, and you have to rescue at least six.

          • Grimwear says:

            They changed it for civilian missions then? I know in the previous installment if all the civilians died you still didn’t fail the mission you just got a “they’re all dead commander, clean up the last of the aliens and head home.”

            • Ranneko says:

              I think it is a soft fail, I haven’t done it yet, but I also am willing to save/load to avoid problems in my current run.

            • Da Mage says:

              You have to save a least 6 from I think 16 on the map. I never ran into problems with that clock though, since as soon as you engage the aliens they tend to start shooting at you instead.

              Its similar to when you have to defend an objective, as soon as you get close enough to engage the aliens, they stop shooting at the objective. It’s a sort of a clock that you can stop once the fighting starts.

      • Galad says:

        It’s very near being great. The only issues for me are performance-based, and those can be easily mitigated with certain fixes available in one of the steam guides. Also, if you have not revealed the aliens, try to move one at a time, THEN use your soldiers’ second action. That way you won’t give the aliens the first shot. My only beef with the mechanics is that healing a soldier wounded during mission does not reduce their healing time.

        If you’re interested you should be able to still get it for 23% off from GMG

        • Grimwear says:

          I won’t lie I am incredibly interested however being in Canada and our falling dollar I refuse to pay for what 2k games is charging which is 80 dollars. Most devs have boosted their prices to 70 CAD which is acceptable and sega is charging us 72 CAD but Bethesda and 2k games are being super greedy charging us 80 dollars. I’m just going to wait for a 50% off now out of spite.

          • Da Mage says:

            According to conversion rates, $80 CAD is actually about the same as the $60 USD that america is getting, so it’s not like your getting ripped off. Its just that the USD has picked up recently, so it makes everyone else’s prices worse.

            Here in Australia I’m just glad we are also getting $60 USD, and they didn’t do the stupid $20 price hike like some do…which makes 0 sense when our steam is in USD.

            • Grimwear says:

              See the problem with that is just because you can sell it for 60USD in the US does not mean that you should sell it at that price elsewhere. Canadians do not get paid in USD. With our declining dollar, Canadians are not suddenly getting paid more to compensate for this. Also what’s being done is acceptable for import goods but as far as I’m aware, companies are not being charged import fees on digital goods (I’ve never heard of it happening at any rate) What this means is that saying “It’s equivalent” is dumb. People can view it as fair but as the one who suddenly has to pay 20 additional dollars I then say this is too expensive and not worth that price. It’s really hard to see the data when it comes to these things but I’d wager that most pubs are reducing profits by doing it this way. I mean most people can look and say ok I’ll pay an additional 10. 80 is outrageous and I would seriously put money down saying that 80 CAD is not the most optimal price which maximizes profit for them. Ultimately it’s easy to say we’re going to price everything via the US price of 60 USD but that’s stupid when you need to be looking at the optimal price for each individual market. https://steamdb.info/app/268500/ that link shows that for SOME countries they’re doing this like brazil and russia but for “higher tier” countries they don’t care and will just price it to 60 USD regardless of of how many sales they’re actually losing.

              Edit: I do not mean to imply countries that are paying less USD for the game are lower tier but rather countries in which the publishers have decided to actually use economic pricing principles to price accordingly. Granted these are my assumptions but again I can’t find the data being used. I can only say that as a consumer jumping from 60-80 CAD is a really big jump that SHOULD be costing them a lot of Canadian sales.

              • Sleeping Dragon says:

                I’d love to agree with you, especially as someone who earns rather unfavourably to both the USD and euro. That said this has happened a few times before and in most cases it was accompanied by things like region locking due to key resellers (and this is why we can’t have nice things). Sure you can argue that this looses the developer sales (especially in the critical right after release period that goes into all the statistics), makes people pirate the game or has them put the purchase away till it goes on a big sale and thus provides even less profit than cutting the price initially would. All of those are valid arguments but apparently most publishers don’t think the potential gains are worth the hassle.

                On the other hand nobody thought the old “abandonware” titles were worth investing in until GOG came around so if you or someone else figures out how to turn a profit from this more power to you.

        • Gruhunchously says:

          Well I’m all hyped. But I’m nervous about the performance issues I’ve been hearing about. Some of them seem relatively minor, especially if you don’t care about a consistent 60FPS, but other sound nastier-game breaking bugs, memory leaks, enemies seeing and shooting through walls, nasty stuff like that. I’m holding out for an official optimization patch, but it’s entirely possible that I might just cave in at some point and try and wing any problems with the recommended .ini tweaks.

          I love/hate you Firaxis…I want to play this wonderful game of yours but I also want you to fix it!

      • Robyrt says:

        The turn counters are just like EW, except they’re about 50-60% of missions instead of 20%. I wouldn’t let that put you off; there are new squad upgrades and class abilities that let you move a lot faster if you need to, which cuts down on the time spent rushing frantically towards the objective.

  2. RetroRaiderD42 says:

    What you said about Spoiler Warning changing how you judge video games is similar to the Cinema Snob Midnight Screenings videos, where several of the team have commented that doing those has made them similarly sharp in critiquing films along the lines Shamus suggested i.e. being especially harsh to certain genres that are played out. They’ve said that the worst sin a film can commit at this point is being just straight boring to the point where they forget they saw it a week later; preferring in some cases an outright terrible/offensive film that they can at least discuss. That, in turn, reminds me of the SW crew saying that their worst seasons were the ones where any interesting talking points were played out long before the game was.

    • Phill says:

      I think the boringness comes from predictability, to a great degree. Much like Shamus implied with the comment about “and it feels like its about that point in the game where your weapons are all about to get taken away”. You watch enough romance films and you can set your watch by the point in the film where some misunderstanding will scupper the nascent romance, before it gets cleared up for the reconciliatory denoument.

      In action films, you get the feel for how the pacing goes – there has to be the bit where the big bad is on top and everything looks hopeless (I wrote “big bard” first time around – I think more action films need a big bard). There has to be the big finale set piece fight in which it looks like the hero is beaten before pulling some Chekov’s gun winning move out of the bag to save the day at the last moment.

      It does make watching slightly older films more fun though. If you watch films from the 50’s-70’s (maybe early 80’s) you get a much wider variety of pacing and editing style, and it is absolutely refreshing. If you’ve only ever seen modern action films, watching something like “Enter the Dragon” could be a revelation. One of the big confrontations that is built up over the course of the film is dealt with almost in passing as Bruce Lee avenges his sister. They don’t need to make it in to a fight he almost loses, or any of the other modern cliches (and nor is it the climactic moment of the film), and I love it for that.

      I suppose that’s one reason why Marlow Briggs was such a surprise Spoiler Warning hit. It very much didn’t stick the conventions of the genre (whatever genre it happened to be in), it was often deliberately ridiculous, but it did so in surprising ways. Riding on a minecart track around the boss while you shoot it turret section style is both using a game cliche and undercutting it in an unexpected way (seriously, we’re in a minecart? Who even built this bit of track. What’s it for? It is non-sensical, and deliberately so, which is why it’s funny).

      (Random digression: It’s been said of films that for a film to be a good satire of a genre, it has to also be a good example of the genre. So Shawn of the Dead works pretty well as a zombie movie as well as a satire – it’s making fun of something that it loves. A bad zombie comedy would be one that made fun of the entire concept of zombie movies and treated them as inherently stupid, which then comes across to the audience as “you are stupid for liking these films”.

      • Joe Informatico says:

        A big reason for this predictability is because Save the Cat! has been the Hollywood screenwriters’ Bible for most of the past decade. And while story structure and pacing are far from new concepts (and definitely important ones), Save the Cat turns them into a mathematical formula, laying out story beats by script page number.

        I agree about the big bards. Mad Max: Fury Road had one, another reason why it was the greatest film of 2015.

        • Alex says:

          You beat me to mentioning the Doof Warrior. You’ve got to love a villain who has his own leitmotif, which he plays himself, on a flamethrower guitar while strapped on top of an army truck, and has that all make sense.

      • marty says:

        I agree with your point on satire (not to further go down this digression hole) and the implied “you are stupid, too, for liking this.”

        I can’t recall too many specific examples but a game I liked a lot, Westerado, uses many tropes from spaghetti westerns but presents them in a way that I didn’t care for. The framing of the game is that it’s really a movie–with the occasional use of film sprockets in some sequences, film equipment as background objects in some areas, and the ending is presented like a movie critic’s review. I think the game would be better without these elements. The art and the branching story and procedural elements are all really well done and the sound track is beautiful. It’s a game I could have easily fallen in love with if it weren’t for the developers’ little reminders that, ultimately, it’s all very silly and they want to make sure I know they know it.

        Baking a critique of elements of your game INTO your game doesn’t mean those elements get a pass, game devs. For me, it wrecks the tone of the game and obliterates any chance of immersion. If I’m in the mood for a western, I put on the blinders that allow me to enjoy the music, vistas, and violence–the last thing I want is for some 4th wall breaking element to show up and rip them off so I can see how flimsy the characters are or how the story is pretty broad.

    • Abnaxis says:

      The article makes an interesting point about FOV. I wonder if anyone has tried doing some trig with their setup to match their FOV with the actual angle the screen takes up in-view?

      For anyone interested interested, the formula would be FOV=arctan(screen width/(2*distance from screen) ).

      Also, a great big +1 to “watching anyone else playing a 3D shooter can make you sick.” I’m used to it by now, but my wife–while and avid gamer herself–can’t stand watching me play a 3D-rendered game.

      • Echo Tango says:

        According to the measurements I got, my viewing angle should be about 71 degrees. Also, I used this fancy triangle calculator, because fuck arctan. :P Also, I think you might be off with your formula? I got 35.5 degrees when using it.

        • Phill says:

          35.5 is half of 71. So the obvious question is: are you using the same definition of the angle. Some people think it is obvious that the angle should be from the center of your field of view to the edge, while others think it should obviously be from the left edge to the right. These two definitions differ by a factor of 2, so one will be half the other.

  3. Ranneko says:

    I really dug Massive Chalice, I really liked the strategic decisions and balancing using heroes on the strategy layer and having them available for the combat. Especially towards the start when you have fewer heroes available to the impact of assigning them to an individual building was so much greater. I often would find myself a hero or two short for one of the earlier battles because of that.

    The combat is pretty similar to XCOM with some subtle differences.
    – There is no cover, there are only movement and line of sight blockers so you. Between that and Stealth you play around a lot more with corners and overwhelming smaller groups
    – Massive Chalice has indicators for whether an enemy will be able see you and whether or not it is in range at the highlighted square
    – Each attack type works differently. Melee never misses (misses turn into low damage glancing blows), indirect fire accuracy is based purely on range (and hero accuracy), Direct fire accuracy ignores range.
    – Those differences mean each class is best at different ranges and against different foes. Low health enemies can be reliably finished by caberjacks, alchemists are the only ones that can fire over LOS blockers, etc

    If you want to see more about the game I made a series of tips videos for it:

    • Searly says:

      Ranneko your vids helped me beat Massive Chalice! :)

      Thanks man

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      What I find interesting is that I encountered a lot of negativity towards the game right after release but right now I’m hearing a lot of positive opinions. Did they patch it extensively or was it just overblown expectations?

      • Ranneko says:

        I think it probably depends on the circles you were running in.

        I saw some people who were disappointed that it launched as a Game with Gold (i.e. I paid for this game but could have gotten it for free on Xbone), but otherwise I mostly saw it simply being passed over. It got surprisingly little coverage around its launch, possibly because XCOM 2 was literally announced the same day.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          The opinions that most worried me were that the game was “shallow” and that could basically be summed up as “needs a DLC or two with more stuff for the player to actually do” . There was also a little nugget of “and even if you’re doing fine suddenly 3/4ths through the game you can get a random event that’s basically ‘you’re screwed start the game over, lol” which wasn’t as prevalent an opinion as the other issues but is something that I really don’t like in a game, if that is indeed the case.

          Though again, not having played I wonder if those could be early opinions and now that I hear mostly from people who stuck with the game I’m hearing rather positive stuff.

  4. Paul Spooner says:

    In The Witness, there are tutorials for all of the puzzle types, and a map for where they all are. But, like the rest of the game, it isn’t interested in holding your hand.
    And yeah, it’s annoying to not be able to climb or jump.

    Totally agree that the game is gorgeous. I didn’t find the puzzles quite so challenging, but yeah, screenshots are handy.

    • Duoae says:

      Sorry, Spooner, this isn’t really a reply to your comment but you’re the only person to mention the witness. :)

      I actually had no problem with this approach in the Witness. I’m normally not a puzzle game type person but I never had a point in the game where I was stuck wandering around the island like Shamus mentions. I just got into a grind of puzzles and when I got to a point that I couldn’t continue on then I either stuck it out and puzzled the solution or I went off to another place that I knew I had remaining puzzles to complete.

      Maybe it’s because I’m good at remembering the location of everything so I never had a point in the game so far where I didn’t have a puzzle I could revisit and use the new knowledge I have accrued in solving other puzzles.

      I also really liked the world they built so I enjoyed discovering things in it – even just as part of the scenery.

  5. Retsam says:

    Huh, I’ve also been playing Massive Chalice in the last week or two.

    I feel like it’s a game that’s just a couple mods away from being really great… it’s a shame the game doesn’t really support modding. I think a mod that just slows down the clock (which would make it a Long War, if you will) relative to how often events happen would actually just straight-up make the game better. They’d probably have to lower the EXP bonuses to not make it broken, but more battles with the same heroes would make the game a lot more engaging.

    Because really, I think my fundamental issue with the game is just that, you do all this breeding, you have all these mechanics trying to make you invested in your heroes… but at best they fight maybe 3 battles before they die, so it doesn’t really actually reward that sort of investment, very much.

    • Falterfire says:

      Yeah, that was exactly my problem with the game. They built it up as being this multi-generational war where the grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) of your original squad will be carrying on the fight, but after I played a handful of missions and watched my initial squad die of old age within the first hour or so of gameplay I felt it failed to live up to that.

      Two or three missions isn’t enough to make me really care about any given character, and instead of feeling like each soldier is part of a long legacy they all feel like forgettable, soon to be replaced nobodies.

      • Ranneko says:

        I found I was found of families not individual soldiers, there would be the occasional standout but mostly I remember a particular bloodline as giving me an endless series of Boomstrikers that would quickly dispatch the high threat cadence and cross the map.

  6. Merlin says:

    @7:30, Ruts, you’re on the right track. But really, what every Assassin’s Creed protagonist wants to do with 75% of their day is flop around in the nearest pile of hay.

  7. Wide And Nerdy says:

    That bit about including previous podcasts reminded me of this Mr Show sketch.


  8. James says:

    Ruts talking about how he changed the way he looks at video game, is largely similar to mine, originally i liked Fallout 3’s plot, and now i think its absolute shit, the same happened with Mass Effect 2, i liked the main plot originally, now that i’ve listened to other people, and thought about and focused on it i hate the badly paced poorly written mess.

    So thanks Shamus, you made me think deeply about video games, and now i hate some things i previously liked.

    Oh let me make it clear, i still like playing Mass Effect 2 and Fallout 3, i dont hate them as games, i hate them as stories, and in ME2’s case it has fantastic side plots that i love.

  9. Grimwear says:

    Thank god for Funklewrinkler. In his name. Amen.

    • Funklewrinkler says:

      Oh, my.

      It is a bit of a tongue twister, but it works. I’m glad Shamus tried (and nearly got it the second time) instead of saying, “[clearly unpronounceable name].”

  10. Funklewrinkler says:

    Thank you guys for answering my emails. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get an answer for that first one, but not surprised. In all honesty, the second email came from my own reflections on why I had become so critical and somewhat cynical when it came to games. The answer was Spoiler Warning. So I naturally wondered how much of yours came from doing the show. I guess we all blame Shamus.

    Chris and Rutskarn make some good points about both the rise of easily accessible games of very different genres and that AAA games are moving more towards the framework of sacrificing coherent plot for entertainment value. I’m almost afraid that the logic behind this is “Those indie/small developer games are garnering a lot of attention, and some of them don’t even have a plot! Let’s work more on gameplay and less on story; that’s what the people want!” It really fails to see that certain games like Minecraft and Super Meat Boy are built purely for entertainment and aren’t intended to spark any philosophical thoughts in our heads. It’s the excitement of finishing the loving recreation of a favorite place or successfully navigating a seemingly impossible series of saw blades that make them popular, yes, but then you can put the game down and come back to it when you feel like adding more blocks or rapidly jumping through gaps and sliding down walls.

    Rutskarn talked about this in this post where it seems that Skyrim was made to be like a casual game: any person somewhat familiar with playing games can pick it up and play for a while, and then he or she can come back to it weeks or even months later and be able to pick it up without any problem. This keeps games which we have come to expect to give us a coherent plot, engender a deep emotional response, or make us think about the way in which we see the world from doing exactly those things. They’ve become just another game we can dick around in for a few hours then go do something else.

    It’s a little cliche, but it’s as though games are losing their souls.

    That “something” is missing from the games that are supposed to be spiritual successors of or are developed by the same people as those we loved. They’ve been relegated to stories about how cool it was when I hacked that thing and made the dudes explode or that time when I jumped off that building because I thought there was a pile of hay to land in and I lost an hour of gameplay because I forgot to save. Stories like that are part of major titles, but haven’t been the entirety of them for quite a few years now. Games like Spec Ops and The Witcher III are fondly spoken of for emotional impact and well-written story as well as some stupid thing that happened or that we did to ourselves. It’s great to hear people talk about them and games like them. And they’re not nearly the only games like that.

    However, AAA titles really seem to be sliding over to mere entertainment value and broad demographic interest. I’m sure at this point someone will point out that someone else said this exact same thing over a decade ago and the prophecies of doom haven’t taken place yet. I hope they don’t. In any case, this is more of my own fear about which way the industry seems to be going.

    It’s also a good reason why indie games are seeing such a dramatic rise in attention. Steam and other platforms, along with increased connectivity, have made accessibility more easy, but as Shamus said the reason why people are being drawn to these games is because they’re something different than what’s being bandied about, even if it is taking him a bit out of context. It isn’t too far because the reason why some goofball, maybe not too well-made game is garnering attention is the same reason why a game lovingly built like an 8-bit, storytelling rpg gets the same attention. And while the everyday indie game might be a pick-it-up-and-leave-it puzzle-solver, many indie games are pushing little ideas at us to pick up and think about and, hopefully, at the end of the day, take with us.

    • Galad says:

      If you’re only looking at AAA titles, sure, it’s more or less normal you’d feel this way. They cost a lot to make, so they need to get a lot of money back. What’s the easiest way to get a lot of money back? Certainly not by, say, slapping a 100$ price tag, as few people would buy it. You price it at 60$ as everyone else, and try to make it appeal to as many people as possible.

      Then again, there are AAA or at least A+ games that have taken the “bang your head against the wall, Souls style” games.

      Also, “losing their souls” is such a dramatic way to put it. Vermintide is a new game, and is close to being triple A. Can anyone play it? On normal, sure. On cataclysm, highest difficulty setting? Not that many people would have the patience for it. It can be just as addictive though. Also, in every other good game’s steam reviews you’d find that one guy or two guys that have 1k+ hours played in it.

      • Funklewrinkler says:

        I completely agree. I only find it sad that there are so many which are going that route. I can completely understand the logic of “It’s going to cost a lot to make this game. Let’s get money back by making it playable by everyone.” However, the stories in the games in question seem to suffer from what I can only assume is that very logic, though mishandled. From a lay perspective, it seems like both could be achieved instead of sacrificing one for the other.

        And there are games which are meant to be merely gameplay and mechanics with only a veneer of story to give a reason why you’re doing whatever you’re doing as well as AAA or nearly equivalent games which still do find that happy balance between universal playability and story. I fully admit that. It’s only those games which promise both but don’t deliver one or the other that seem at the very least mishandled if not downright lazily made. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but so many are going this direction that it’s growing increasingly hard to. Not everyone feels this way, of course, and most of the time don’t really care. More power to them. And even though they’re the reason it sells, they’re who it’s really marketed to, and it’s in no way their fault for liking a game made for their tastes. Any of us who’re too critical of games were like them until we became insufferable grognards.

        As for being dramatic, yes it was. It was to make a point and provoke a reaction. As ridiculous as it seems, it worked.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Making a game more accessible is not all bad. i love Morrowind, I’m one of those people who swear by that game and both the storyline and atmosphere are amazing… but damn was that thing hard to get back into if you let anything slide from memory. I’m not even going to count the number of times I dropped a playthrough because I came back to the game after a week or two and had problems figuring out where I was, where was I supposed to go and what was I supposed to do. Not to mention which skill I was levelling and in some cases for what specific purpose.

          Also, where on the letter scale do the new Shadowrun games fall? The first one was somewhat narratively rough but I really liked Dragonflight and HK.

  11. SL128 says:

    I’m another person who played MASSIVE CHALICE recently, having finished it on normal iron mode about two weeks ago.

    -Alchemists are definitely the weakest at the start, but become really awesome once they start making it to higher levels.
    -You can’t have stealth bombers, but you can have people who shoot explosive arrows or use explosive cabers.
    -The game is easier than XCOM (on normal, at least, and it really only starts to get challenging at ~100-150 years), and the most significant impact is that there’s less moving four spaces per turn just to be safe.
    -I didn’t become very attached to my characters until later in the game when almost everyone would get incredibly close to death.
    -The most impactful deaths and threats of death were from wrinklers aging people; having old fighters at full health die from instantly aging five years, and worrying that it could happen to my best two characters in the final battle were some of the strongest moments for me.

    • Ranneko says:

      I definitely agree with you about Alchemists, they get much better as soon as they have free throw. But it is toward end game where they really shine as they have one of the higher damage outputs, they can hit multiple enemies at once and their accuracy is independent of enemy stats.

      Did you have any heroes die in the final battle? The special case there is really awesome, but if you are doing well you may well not see it.

      • SL128 says:

        No, I was able to keep them all alive (despite my 71 year old being surrounded by two wrinklers once). I still have the save from the last turn since it doesn’t get deleted; I’ll check out the other ending soon. Thanks for letting me know about the alternate scenario.

  12. John says:

    Shamus’ remarks about the backpack/equipment-stealing boss in Tomb Raider have had me wracking my brain trying remember if I’ve ever run into this problem before. I’ve certainly heard of it before. I immediately knew what Shamus was talking about. But apart from a fan-made Never winter Nights module or two, I don’t think I have. Perhaps I don’t play enough narrative-driven games.

  13. Sova says:

    Josh’s name links back to this page
    Well played Shamus, well played

    For me I think Massive Chalice suffers from the old adage of being “neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring” (disengage pretentious folksy throw back mode).

    As a long time Crusader Kings player I just can’t seem to shake the desire to tinker a little more around the edges. The game doesn’t really give that feeling of control every aspect the way one gets in CK2. I realise that this is intentional, as Rutskarn said a simplified system that allows you to get invested without getting tedious. I suppose in simplifying the mechanics to be more appealing upfront you have to sacrifice some control later on.

    For me personally that is odd because I actually didn’t mind the simplification process the Elder Scrolls went through from Morrowind to Skyrim. Again, a simplified system to broaden the appeal to a wider audience and strangely enough I wasn’t concerned with that. Other complaints about the game aside, I never felt that I was missing features for the player character to do in Skyrim in the same way I did for the heroes in Massive Chalice.

    I feel that Massive Chalice servers better as an introduction to people unfamiliar with the genre. If you get it on a whim, play and love it then you’re perfectly positioned to move onto something new, see CK2. Going from CK2 to Massive Chalice makes for a much less satisfying experience.

  14. WWWebb says:

    Weren’t we supposed to get links to some bite-sized educational videos in the show notes?

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