Game Review: Forbidden Island


Forbidden Island

Ages: 10+
# of players: 2-4
Length: ~30 minutes

Nerd skills:

  • Strategy
  • Cooperation
  • Decision Making
  • Risk/Reward Management


Ever wonder what it would be like to be Indiana Jones?  Forbidden Island does a very good job at replicating that experience.  You are 2-4 adventurers trying to secure four different treasures on an island that is constantly sinking into the ocean!  At every turn, you must manage to shore up some parts of the island, while still managing to find enough cards to capture the mysterious treasures.

This game may have started the recent growing movement in cooperative games.  Everyone plays on one team with just one goal – get the treasures and make it back to the helicopter space to leave before everyone drowns.  The gameplay is relatively easy – each person gets 3 “actions” to use during their turn (things like moving, shoring up tiles, capturing treasure, etc.), then they draw 2 treasure cards, and then they flip over “flood” cards, which shows which tile will start to sink.  Each adventurer has different abilities, for example, the explorer can move diagonally and the engineer can shore up two tiles at once!  After using your 3 actions, you must draw 2 treasure cards – each of these cards has the different symbols of the treasures on them.  When you collect 4 of them, you can turn them in and capture the treasure that matches those symbols!  Then comes the dreaded flood turn, where you flip cards over equal to the water level and those tiles start to sink.  Capture all 4 treasures to win!

Forbidden Island is a fantastic basic cooperative game.  It perfectly balances peril with fun and it is easy enough for children to understand with some help from their parents.  My favorite part is navigating the island when some of the tiles are just completely gone; it really makes you prioritize your moves.  Overall, this game is fantastic and it’s good for introducing people to more advanced gaming.  7.5/1

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