Review: Forbidden Island

I’ve already spoken about how great cooperative games are for children but they’re good for grown ups too. We have a couple, one of which is Forbidden Island from Gamewright. It’s for 2-4 players, aged 10+.

Always nice to have a game box that looks good on the shelf!

Always nice to have a game box that looks good on the shelf!

You’re a group of adventurers looking for treasure on an island. The catch is that the island is gradually flooding. The aim of the game is to work as a team to gather all of the treasure and get off the island before it sinks into the sea!

Game set up, all ready to go!

Game set up, all ready to go!

There is quite a bit of setting up involved but not as much as some other games I’ve played and I think it’s worthwhile as the game’s mechanic works really well.

forbidden island character cards

Character cards

There are six different roles available (pilot, explorer, engineer, diver, messenger and navigator), each with it’s own special move. On each players turn, they can carry out three actions: move, shore up land that is flooding, trade treasure cards with another player or trade 4 treasure cards for a treasure figurine. One of the things we really like about this game is the aesthetic design and the treasure figurines are really cool looking pieces. The tiles’ artwork are really good too, each being distinctive enough that Pip can tell the difference between them easily.

forbidden island mid game

During game play

A handy thing about this game is that while she’s too young to really play it yet, Pip can have a role. She plays the part of the rising water. On each turn, she turns over flood cards to tell us which parts of the island have started to flood or have entirely disappeared! This actually creates some proper tension towards the end of the game. We’ve never actually lost this game but it comes quite close every time and it would be all too easy to lose! The only way to win is to collect all four treasure pieces and get all members of the team back to the helicopter to escape before the island sinks. The game can be lost due to the level of water rising too high (indicated by the skull symbol on the flood meter), the helipad being flooded or it becoming impossible to reach the helipad due to surrounding tiles disappearing under water. It always feels like the odds are stacked against us so  I’m surprised we manage to win at all!

forbidden island flood

The flood meter, indicating how high the water levels have risen and how many flood cards need to be turned over

I really enjoy the cooperative nature of the game. While I enjoy a bit of friendly competition, it’s nice to work together rather than against each other sometimes.

forbidden island pieces

We won! Our pawn pieces with the lovely looking four treasure pieces

Overall, I think this is a really fun game and would be brilliant to play as a family if you have older children. We’ve only played with two of us but we definitely want to get some friends round to join in!

If you’re lucky enough to live in Cardiff, you can get Forbidden Island at the independent games shop: Rules of Play. If not, it’s probably available in plenty of places online.

Thanks for reading!

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3 thoughts on “Review: Forbidden Island

  1. What a great review – Forbidden Island is one of our favourite games too! I love the way that Pip gets to play too, I’ll have to try that with our youngest rather than waiting till he’s in bed! Thank you for the shot for Rules of Play too 🙂

  2. Pingback: Fresh Five week 67: Blogs for your inner geek | Tots 100

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