23 July 2023
Will the superb production values of this hide and seek game hook you in?
Oh dear, that pesky Captain Hook has kidnapped the lost children. Now it’s up to Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy, Tiger Lily, John and Michael to travel across Neverland to track them down. Unfortunately the only thing that will help them in their search are - often unhelpful - visions that make finding kids in Neverland more difficult than hunting down a wayward toddler in ‘Big’ ASDA on a Saturday morning.
Peter Pan – aka Pan’s Island after a post-publication name change – is a co-operative hide and seek game, with a little bit of Mysterium or Dixit thrown in for good measure. As mentioned, the children have gone missing and are spread across a beautifully illustrated map of Neverland, complete with mermaids, volcanoes, giant mushrooms, etc. In order to ‘hide’ the children, each player has their own mini map of Neverland with certain areas shaded in grey. This map is then slotted inside a plastic sleeve, which again is mostly shaded in grey, but also has larger clear areas so you can see the map underneath, along with smaller circular areas. You secretly choose where to place one of the lost children by marking an ‘x’ on one of the larger locations with an erasable pen. Meanwhile, those smaller circles are the locations of Captain Hook and must be avoided at all costs.
Ok, now the kid is bumbling around somewhere on the map, it’s time to tell the player to your right where that poor child is. This is done through vision cards that try to explain how far your partner should move their hero standee on the map. There are two different types of vision card: direction (based on key map locations) and distance (number of miles using the grid reference). For example, you might place a direction card showing a ‘skull island’ and a ‘5’ which would tell your partner they need to move five spaces toward the skull island feature. Simple, right?
Well, no because the chances are you won’t have the correct cards in your hand to explain where the lost child is. This is mitigated slightly by the inclusion of the ‘footprint gauge’ on your partner’s character board. You place your vision cards somewhere along the gauge. The closer to the left, the more accurate the vision. However, even with the footprint gauge, you’re still completely at the mercy of the vision cards in your hand.
Once all that’s done, it’s time for your partner to move their hero standee, which is rather complicated. In order to move, you must place a chunky movement template next to the hero standee and then draw a path on the erasable Neverland map, before marking an ‘x’ and then finally using another template to draw an exploration circle around that x. It’s all very fiddly and, although kids are likely to enjoy scrawling on the map, things are likely to get knock around by enthusiastic scribbling!
If you can overcome the frustrations from inaccurate vision cards and fiddly movement elements, then you can play through a kind of campaign where different negative or positive events will be added to future games depending upon your success or failure. It’s a nice touch to ensure there’s plenty of replayability, if you’ve enjoyed the core experience.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
With quality components and lush artwork, there’s no denying that Peter Pan looks the business. The issue is that the game isn’t a great deal of fun. You’re totally at the mercy of the visions and it can be quite fiddly to move around the board. What should have been a simple, co-operative hide and seek game for the family ends up being overly complicated and, occasionally, frustrating.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED MYSTERIUM
There’s that same sense of trying to communicate ideas through limited tools, but Mysterium manages to pull it off much better.
Designer: Marc Paquien
Time: 60 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Neverland board (double-sided)
- Movement template
- Observation template
- 32 Distance Vision cards
- 43 Direction Vision Cards
- 10 Event cards
- Event envelope
- 12 Children & Captain Hook transparent sleeves
- Children & Captain Hook envelope
- 6 Neverland mini-cards (both sides)
- First Player token
- 5 Hero boards
- 5 Hero standees
- 5 Erasable markers
- 5 Danger markers
- 5 Notebook cards
- 5 Game Aid cards
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