As a fan of Kingdom Hearts, I'm always looking for more ways to get Sora, Donald, and Goofy into my life, as a board game was not how I was expecting the next experience to be. Kingdom Hearts: Perilous Pursuit is a new game from USAOPOLY that pairs together elements of Yahtzee and character building while wrapping it together in a Player vs Game environment.
The aim of the game is for players to take on the roles of Sora, Riku, Kairi, Donald, and Goofy and face off against Heartless in a series of different worlds from the game. Players aim to build up their characters' strengths and rid the world of heartless to progress to the next world, alternatively the heartless of the world seek to overpower the heroes and delve worlds into darkness. Heroes can save the day by ridding six worlds of heartless, but if any heroes die or two worlds fall to darkness it's game over.
Inside the box, you'll find the Player Boards for each of the characters as well as character tokens, World cards that list the heartless of the world, item cards, and Kingdom Hearts-themed dice. On the player boards, you can get a bit of an idea of how each of the characters plays based on how easy or difficult it is to activate any of their actions. Sora prioritizes big attacks, Riku can deal high damage while also building up a stock of item cards, Donald can heal players, and Goofy can give players extra shields. When you can take these actions is based on your dice rolls.
Each player turn takes place in four parts. To start their turn a player can roll the themed dice three times, setting aside dice they want to keep while re-rolling the rest. You might want to keep aside some 'Collect' dice to get a new card, or as many 'Wild' dice as possible to keep your options open. After the dice rolling stage you'll then allocate them to your board. One die has the possibility to roll a heartless symbol if you get that you're unable to set aside anything from that roll, this can quickly cause complications to your plan.
The action gauge on each player board is separated into a "Ready" zone on the left demonstrating how many dice need to be used at once to ready an action, and an additional spot to the right to "Set" the action. After setting an action each time you want to activate the action will require one more roll of that type. Here is where the strategy comes in, do you gather enough for another quick attack? What about that really powerful skill that you'll need to use a whole turn to set up? Do I risk moving slowly now and hope the Heartless don't destroy the world?
After you've rolled your dice and performed your actions it's now the turn of the Heartless of the world. After each player's turn, it's now their turn to roll the dice represented on the World Card. You only roll once but what comes up can be as harmless as doing literally nothing, or it can cause more heartless to appear furthering you from your goal, attack the player rolling, or even attack all players. It's unique to have the E part of the PvE battle happen once per player, there's no way to make the game easier or harder by having more or fewer characters as you're going to be dealing with the world just as much.
There's a lot of onboarding that new players need to figure out like what role their character plays in the dynamic, and what strategies they should be trying to come up with. The first two times playing we had Sora attacking reliably with one damage a turn ignoring his more powerful Ability action that heavily contributed to a brutal loss, while the Riku player managed to get his "Draw one card, and deal two damage" ability practically immediately. It became a tug of war between heartless spawning and the team trying to do as much damage as possible while also covering themselves with as much protection as possible. Inevitably we lost, but once the party talked over shortcomings and worked out a bit of a strategy and priority a world that originally took us 30 minutes to beat was blown out of the water in 10. The game certainly challenges the players.
Perilous Pursuit as a series has been adapted before, such as with Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit, and while there's certainly Kingdom Hearts themeing with each symbol relating to known GUI elements of the video games and worlds from across all Kingdom Hearts being present the look and feel of a "Kingdom Hearts" board game is only surface deep. Not to say whether that's good or bad but if you're a Kingdom Hearts fan don't go in looking for an experience that is filled with deep knowledge or references.
The Bottom Line:
Kingdom Hearts: Perilous Pursuit is an odd experience of Yahtzee and 'deck' building, as you Ready and Set, player actions but it's also an extremely rewarding one. There is a narrow field of how to play each of the characters correctly that could cause frustration on your first few games, but once you're into the swing of things and start the see the formula of the game you'll find it much easier. At its core, it is a game of luck so there will still be plenty of chances for chaos and upsets. For Kingdom Hearts fans or not Perilous Pursuit is an enjoyable time and a good chance for friends to gather around a set of dice and pray to the God of good rolls.
Get this game if:
- You enjoy Yahtzee like dice collection games
- You don't want to compete against friends
- You enjoy a game with random elements
Avoid this game if:
- You don't like a formulaic game
- Your hearts has already been taken over by the darkness