The success of Disney Villainous and Disney Lorcana showed just how perfectly Disney’s stories fit the board game mold. And for the women working at Ravensburger, there was a clear contender for the next wave of characters to bring into a game.
“[We] really wanted to see a game where you could embody some of our favorite characters, Disney princesses, just be heroines, and get to see them be honestly incredibly badass,” Lysa Penrose, head of new games marketing at Ravensburger North America, tells Polygon.
The new board game is a dream team-up featuring heroines from across Disney films banding together in a way that the movies actually very rarely showcase. In Chronicles of Light: Darkness Falls, players can choose from Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Moana (Moana), Maid Marian (Robin Hood), and Violet Parr (The Incredibles). Up to four players work together to save the Realm of Light from the malevolent Vortex threatening to take over the land with shadow villains.
At the start, players put together a board full of map tiles that can be combined in different ways and select the quest cards (one of four individualized options for each character) that will determine the win conditions. The game is played in rounds, where during the “day” players will work together to use a total of six actions. They can heal, move, or use one of the various individualized actions that their character cards give them. At “night,” the Darkness spreads and the Vortex gets a turn to go. In order to win the game, players must complete all the quests, defeat all the shadow villains in dice combats, and meet back at the Vortex in order to destroy it.
That’s a lot of moving parts, and how they come together is exactly what makes Chronicles of Light intriguing. While it is first and foremost a board game, Penrose says that the cooperative elements and the freedom of play make the game a “TTRPG-lite.”
“The team curated different game mechanics for this final game that start to break down what divides a board game from a more freeform storytelling experience,” she explains.
The way the rounds are designed, for one, isn’t a traditional turn order. There is a lot of emphasis on collaboration and coordination.
“Everyone at the table has to discuss this together,” says Penrose. “You have to coordinate, you have to negotiate as a team. Because there are a lot of different priorities on the board. And honestly, if you play and everyone treats it like, OK, well, I’ll pick my action, and then the next person picks their actions, and you try to add a traditional turn order to it… anything’s possible [but it’s] unlikely that game is going to succeed. There’s this shared decision making and risk taking that is really essential for folks to be able to complete all of the different goals that they have to.”
Additionally, each of the different character boards gets some individualized actions and abilities. It’s more straightforward than dense and potentially intimidating character sheets, especially for younger players, but they all include hit point trackers, spaces for action tiles, and a description of what actions the character can do.
Take Belle, for instance. In addition to her basic actions of moving and healing, she also has the ability to use her horse, Phillipe, to travel across land spaces and take companions with her. She has a catapult that she designed that can launch assistance to any battle across the board, as well as a magical book that can help reduce the power of the shadow villains. It’s very true to her character, which was deliberate on the behalf of the designers, who really sought to show a wide range of character skill sets.
“A really big part of choosing this mix of characters was that there’s so much diversity in Disney heroines,” says Penrose. “We did want to represent that, yes, they’re all going to be incredibly badass in this game. But there are different ways to be badass. You can be badass with a book.”
The game will be available for pre-order on the Target website on July 7 for $29.99, and it will hit Target and hobby stores on July 21. Chronicles of Light: Darkness Falls will launch later this year in the U.K. and Europe, with localized German and French translations. Fans can keep an eye out for a first look of Belle’s mover and card, which will be on display at the 2024 Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.