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Disney's Kingdom Hearts Perilous Pursuit

The original Kingdom Hearts was a rather weird Square Enix video game originally released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2. It was an RPG mashup that brought in crossover characters from the Disney universe and the Final Fantasy video games alongside the series' own main protagonists. Bizarre as the notion initially seemed, it proved to be a popular concoction and it went on to spawn a host of sequels. If you're one of the series' legions of longstanding fans, or if you just played the original game and have a touch of nostalgia, you'll be intrigued by this dice game from The Op.

And if the Perilous Pursuit part of this game's title also sounds familiar, it's because this game is essentially a reskin of a Harry Potter universe game - Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit - published by The Op in 2018.

Kingdom Hearts Perilous Pursuit is a fully cooperative game for 2-5 players. Players each take on one of the main Kingdom Hearts characters: Sora, Kairi, Riku, Goofy or Donald Duck. You're collectively trying to defeat the 'Heartless' on six worlds. On your turn, you roll the six custom six-sided dice and allocate them to actions on your individual dual-layer board. You get to re-roll twice, unless you roll a Heartless icon that blocks you from doing so (a 1 in 6 chance on the single black die). You need between 1 and 5 matching dice to ready an action and then you'll need another matching die to set the action, tho' that can be done on a subsequent turn. Once an action is readied and set, a further die is needed to actually take the action.

Even with the dice face that counts as a wild, getting all the matching dice you need to ready, set and take an action is quite tough, but happily you also have access to 'item cards' that can give you bonuses, including icons that substitute for dice rolls. These can be played at any time, so - as this is a cooperative game - you can play a card to another player during their turn to help them achieve the most effective dice allocation. Likewise, when other players also have an action readied and set, you can donate a die to them so that they take the action.

To win, players have to defeat the Heartless in six 'worlds' - so that's going to be six tracks where you'll collectively have to move a marker along a track to the 'world saved' position. And after each player takes a turn, dice are rolled for the active world. The effect of each dice icon varies between worlds, and some may have no effect, but typically they dish out damage to players (ie: reducing their health), move the Heartless tracker in the opposite direction to which the players want it to go, or they unset and/or unready actions on players' boards...

The various characters all have one special action available to them but their other actions are all the same: Attack (move the Heartless track), Distract (reduce the number of dice rolled by the world you are combating), Collect (draw an item card), and Protect (add a token to shield a point of health damage). Characters don't tho' all have the icons in the same positions on their board; so, for example, Riku needs only one die to ready an attack as compared with the three needed by Donald Duck; on the other hand, Donald only needs one die to ready a Collect action to draw a card.

Success in Kingdom Hearts Perilous Pursuit is not so much down to push-your-luck calls as to collectively solving an icon optimisation puzzle. You can expect quite wide swings of fortune in any dice game, but Kingdom Hearts Perilous Pursuit can be especially unforgiving if players don't make the most effective use of their rolls and cards, including sharing them for maximum impact. Players lose if any one of them has their health reduced to zero (everyone starts at 10) or if they fail to save two worlds... This all makes for an easy to play but challenging cooperative game that can be played by all the family - tho' you might need to discourage bossy 'alpha' players from taking over on everyone else's turn.

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