I know you toss and turn at night, wracking your brain over trying to find that perfect two player co-op experience. While portable card games are more plentiful than social media posts about Brexit, there are very few exceptional ones. That’s when this mysterious little Japanese wonder called The Ravens Of Thri Sahashri cocks its head and gives you the devil stare with its beady eyes.
One player takes on the role of Ren, a young girl who has lost her memory and slipped into a coma. The second player plays as Feth, a young friend attempting to piece together Ren’s memories and lean on their budding relationship to pull her from the grasp of the abyss. It’s an emotional tale that conveys this strong sense of focus and vulnerability through a brilliant set of mechanisms.
Feth draws cards from a deck and strategically places them in the middle of the table, layered upon each other. Ren takes turns claiming cards to add to one of her memory rows in order to reach a summed value. This occurs repeatedly until Ren can complete each of the rows, which ends the current round.
Both roles play very differently but are bound by a quiet unity. The Feth player is often pushing their luck by drawing a large quantity of cards and then attempting to provide useful tools for the Ren player. Players are not allowed to communicate outside the actions of placing and drawing, which can make choices tough because you’re working in a confined puzzle where many of the pieces are hidden from view. These abstract mechanics are provided enough context and atmosphere to take on a more concrete demeanor and tie into the greater narrative. You’re never just tossing cards out into the pond for another player to go fish–you’re taking their hand and leading them home. Or into a murder of Ravens that just want to tear your eyeball out of its socket.
Screw those Ravens. Feth’s deck includes a number of Ravens corresponding to the different colored memories and drawing one of them is kind of like resetting the “133 Days Until Our Last Accident” sign. They will remain in play during the current dream and eat memories of the same color. This is where the push-your-luck element comes in as drawing huge swathes of cards can cause the dream to warp into nightmare.
This is a difficult game punctuated with emotion through the excellent asymmetrical co-operative structure. It’s also a beautiful game featuring exceptional artwork and phenomenal packaging courtesy of U.K. publisher Osprey. It even includes three sealed envelopes that provide for a pseudo-campaign element reminiscent of Pandemic Legacy. When you win your first game, you’re allowed to open the #1 envelope and find out what happens. This aura of mystery and allure permeates all parts of the design and is the reason you’ll keep coming back for more.
If you’re looking for a two player experience that will stand apart from all that cardboard on your shelf gathering dust, then take flight and grab this little box.
What’s your favorite two player card game? Have you played many import games? Let us know in the comments below!
All images courtesy of Osprey Games.