Publisher: Ravensburger
Age: 8+
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $29.99
Release: July 21

Chronicles of Light: Darkness Falls (Disney Edition) is a cooperative strategy game starring a quartet of Disney heroines: Belle, Maid Marian, Moana, and Violet. Players work together to complete their unique quests, travel the realm, and defeat shadowy villains.

Thanks to multiple quests and a modular game board, the board game is impressively replayable. Though its demand for perfect action efficiency (and a bit of luck) creates a more challenging experience than expected from a Disney game.

Read on for our review of Chronicles of Light!

Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere

Setup takes a bit of time, as everything depends on which characters the players choose. Each of the four heroines features their own action board, villainous shadow tokens, modular board pieces, and quests.

After choosing which characters are playing, players build the map by connecting land and water spaces, mix together shadow tokens, and select (or randomize) a quest.

Each hero includes four quests, and each quest completely changes what that player needs to do. Moana may need to search for sunken treasure chests in multiple locations. Maid Marian needs to gather pieces of an amulet to defeat a shadow with a partner. Belle will have to travel across the realm to assemble a magic scroll.

In a clever bit of game design, many of the quests are designed for multiple characters to help out, as almost all of them feature multiple locations. With Belle’s scroll quest, anyone can pick up a scroll, but players will eventually have to get them to Belle so she can turn them into the central castle.

On the other hand, too many quests are basically just fetch quests. Go here, pick up a thing, and bring it back there. Out of 16 quests, only a handful feature something truly interesting going on. Maid Marian has two quests that at least include a “skill check” (to loosely borrow a D&D term), adding a bit of random luck, while Moana has one memorable quest that features a super-powered sea monster.

Friends on the Other Side

There are no formal turns in Chronicles of Light. Each round, players choose among their actions until they’ve collectively played six actions. Every character has movement and self-healing, as well as unique actions thematic to their character. Moana can help move people via water spaces, while Belle is stronger at defeating shadows thanks to her book-smarts.

Once a player completes their quest, they unlock a powerful fifth action. All players need to complete their quests before they can take on the Vortex.

Shadows represent villains and minions, and are spawned onto the board every round via the Vortex, a shadowy void that represents the ultimate villain in the game. Shadows prevent players from moving and interacting with quest tokens. In order to defeat a shadow, players must roll their dice to beat the shadow token’s listed power.

Battling a shadow doesn’t take an action, but could damage the character, and if players take too many wounds, they must heal, and their team health is reduced. If team health reaches zero, it’s game over!

Combat also promotes teamwork, as the more characters that battle at the same location, the more dice are rolled. Some of the strongest shadows all but require at least two heroes to defeat (or Belle, who’s really quite clutch).

chronicles of light reviewBut the real danger of losing comes from the strict time limit. Game length depends on the number of players; fewer players mean fewer quests to complete, but also less time to get everything done. Players have to complete all quests, then defeat all shadows, then defeat the Vortex, before the Darkness deck runs out. Meanwhile Shadows are constantly spawning, sometimes two at a time, if you’re unlucky.

Thankfully there are a few rulebook-recommended knobs to pull to change the difficulty. Even adding just a single Darkness card and extending the game by one round often means the difference between a narrow loss and a close win.

Much of the difficulty actually comes from the setup. The rulebook warns that placing the all-important Crystal Castle (where players start and where many quests are turned in) near the middle of the board will make things much easier, and we definitely found that to be true. We also played one game with almost no water spaces, making the Moana player feel much more useless compared to Belle’s superior land travel (did I mention how good Belle is!?).

And theme-wise I wasn’t a big fan of including Violet in the game. Her art design is a bit different than the others, and her non-princess character doesn’t mesh as well with the otherwise fantasy-looking map and quest designs.

The Rating

Chronicles of Light has a recommended age rating of 8+, which feels a little low considering how challenging the game is. It’s a great introduction to medium-weight cooperative strategy games, but we would recommend an age of at least 10+ for most players.

As a co-op tabletop game, it’s easy for an older or more experienced gamer to “take charge” and help direct everyone else; Chronicles of Light has a built-in leader rotation to make sure no one takes over the whole time.

The Takeaway

Not unlike its heroines, Chronicles of Light: Darkness Falls (Disney Edition) has more depth than I expected. The designers clearly understand and foster cooperative, action-gameplay, and the asymmetrical powers, multiple quests, and modular setup create plenty of variety. But be prepared for a serious challenge for even veteran co-op board gamers!

Chronicles of Light: Darkness Falls is available for pre-order at Target.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.