May your heart be your guiding key in this latest instalment in the OP’s take on the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Whilst Kingdom Hearts Talisman took two beloved franchises and gelled them together to create a visually stunning game, Perilous Pursuit brings a different offering to the board gaming table. Focusing more on recreating a brand-new way to experience the Kingdom Hearts franchise, this cooperative, dice rolling extravaganza is a treat for any fan.
Starting A New Journey May Not Be So Hard…
Set up starts with players choosing several worlds to visit on their journey. There are plenty of familiar worlds to choose from that span across the whole franchise so fans of the video game series will be delighted with the variety available. Each world is assigned a level which corresponds to their difficulty so players will end up with a selection of 1 Level 1 world, 2 Level 2 and 3 Level 3 for a grand total of 6 worlds to battle your way through together. You can make these choices randomly if you wish or if you have some favourites, they are there for the taking.
After selecting your worlds, it’s time to choose your character. Much like the world choices, there are a great selection of characters to play as well. Obviously, everyone’s favourite trio appear with Sora, Donald and Goofy leading the charge but it’s also possible to mix up the group with Kairi or Riku. All the characters share the same abilities with each having an attack, collect, protect, distract and a special ability specific to the character. The difference between the characters lies in how easy it is to use one of these abilities, but we’ll come back to that later.
Once you’ve chosen your character and worlds, each player will receive their character board along with a set of shields, your abilities ‘ready’ and ‘set’ tokens and a clip to attach to your board for your health tracker. Players will set the worlds up in the centre of the play area with the Level 1 world being on top and the Level 3 worlds at the bottom of the stack. The first player takes all the provided dice, and the game begins.
Warriors Of The Keyblade Go Forth
So how does it play? The OP has put a lot of thought into this game and have gone with a dice rolling mechanic which has proved popular with titles such as King of Tokyo or Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game. (Although, I do feel an opportunity was missed to use cards instead. Any Chain of Memories fans out there?)
In Perilous Pursuit, players must work together to battle their way through 6 worlds that have been infested by Heartless. Each world you have selected has a Heartless tracker on the right-hand side. Each tracker is different in length, with easier worlds having shorter trackers and more difficult worlds having longer ones. Players will successfully complete each world by moving the Heartless tracker towards the ‘World Saved’ goal but will lose if they become overrun with enemies and end up reaching the ‘World Lost’ section.
Each turn you will roll a selection of 6 dice up to 3 times to ‘ready’ and ‘set’ actions. There are 5 blue dice and 1 black die. The black die is known as the Heartless die and is the only one to have the Heartless symbol on it. When this symbol is rolled, it has a negative effect on the players. Depending on what you roll, you will assign the various symbols on the dice to the abilities on your character board.
Your character board, as you will notice, will have different sizes of slots to fill to ‘ready’ one of your actions. You may only ‘ready’ an action if you roll the number of symbols required over the 3 dice rolls. For example, on his board Sora must roll 3 shield symbols over the course of the 3 dice rolls to ‘ready’ his Protect action. He could also ‘set’ his action in the same turn if he rolls another shield. The actions a character may take once they are ‘ready’, and ‘set’ are:
- Attack – You may deal damage to the Heartless within the world you are battling and move the Heartless tracker a step closer to the ‘World Saved’ end.
- Collect – You my collect an item card which will provide a bonus to the players.
- Protect – You may gain a shield token from your supply. This will help reduce any damage you may take when the Heartless take their turn.
- Ability – This special ability will do various things depending on the character. For example, Sora deals +3 damage when his ability is used.
- Distract – You may remove a die from the pool rolled by the world at the end of your turn. The die removed corresponds to the colour of die placed on your distract action.
Once you have taken your turn, you must then roll for the world. Each world has a unique pool of dice that must be rolled. For Level 1 worlds this may be quite a small selection but when taking on Level 3 worlds the dice pools are much larger and can have some damaging effects. You will always roll the black die when rolling for the world unless it has been removed through the Distract action.
When rolled, the symbols on the dice correspond to various effects that impact the player whose turn it has just been. Effects can range from losing health to having to move the Heartless tracker towards the ‘World Lost’ square.
The Hearts True Essence
The components in this game overall are fantastic. If anyone has played Kingdom Hearts Talisman, you’ll know that the board and components in that game are well put together. Whilst Perilous Pursuit has fewer pieces with it, it still holds the same wow factor. Each player board, whilst carrying a similar theme throughout, is individually unique to each character and is made quite robustly. This can be said for the tokens that are included with the game including the small shield tokens which at first, I must admit, I worried would be quite flimsy. The real star of the show here however are the dice that are included. It may sound like such a small thing, but the dice are very well designed. They do not feel cheaply made and clearly a lot of thought has gone into keeping the designs true to the franchise.
My only complaint in terms of the components would be the item cards. Whilst all the other aspects of the game seem well thought out and crafted with fans in mind, the item cards seem a bit lazy in comparison. The colours are quite dull and its just plain text rather than an image or an item description to go along with it. If you’re a Kingdom Hearts fan, you’ll know that the game has always been extremely colourful and has a huge variety of different items to collect so to see The Op miss an opportunity to utilise the franchises already vibrant item collection is a bit disappointing.
Got It Memorized?
Overall, this is a game that myself and my partner love. We’re both big fans of the series so will generally try anything that is released with the Kingdom Hearts stamp on it, thankfully this is one those times where it went well.
The game has a good balance when it comes to difficulty and you can definitely feel it ramping up as you progress through the game, as it naturally should. The difficulty of the game stems from the fact that it is luck of die which some may like, others may not as it does mean the game has some unpredictability. I have played multiple games now and found that it plays so differently from one session to the next. For me, however, the unpredictability just increases the replayability as it gives that feeling of wanting to beat the game.
If you’re not a fan of the series? Sure, some of the nods to the game of Perilous Pursuit wont register and you may not be as charmed by the components as I was, but the gameplay alone is worth trying. It’s a great dice rolling game with some opportunities for strategy thrown into the mix as well.