Honestly, I was certain I had posted a review of this a long time ago, but when I went looking to link it to my Forbidden Desert review last week, I couldn’t find it. Mea culpa! So I’m going to rectify that right now and give you a review for Matt Leacock’s “prequel” to Forbidden Desert, where you trying to survive a sinking island while searching for four treasures.
Race you for the airfield!
In Forbidden Island, you take the role of an adventurer, seeking treasure on a deserted island. There’s only one problem, the island is sinking and your team of explorers has to locate the four treasures and escape from the island before the last of it goes down. It’s a cooperative game, you all win or lose together.
There is a lot to like about this game. It’s very easy to learn and plays quickly. You can play with 2-4 players and games take about a half-hour. If you have a group of players who can communicate well, decisions can be made quickly and easily, it’s a thinky game, but doesn’t usually lead to analysis paralysis. What you have to do is pretty clear, it’s just a matter of efficiently splitting up the work and playing to the strengths of the players and the characters.
However, that’s where there’s a slight problem. The characters are not necessarily well balanced. Some characters are much more useful than others and since there are more characters than players and characters are randomly assigned, you may find in some games that your character powers are just not particularly useful. It does add to the challenge, but it can also make players feel ineffectual.
There’s something I wanted to bring up with Forbidden Desert, but I forgot so I’ll bring that up here. There’s a thing in cooperative games, variously referred to as “alpha player syndrome”. That is one player becomes the unelected leader and essentially orders the rest of the players around. This can become, as you might suspect, not terribly fun for the people who are being bullied by the alpha. While I found Forbidden Desert to not be very conducive to alpha gamers in my experience, Forbidden Island is a bit more of a concern. If not careful, players can find themselves relegated to shoring up sinking tiles while the alpha claims fortune and glory for themselves. It’s just something that you ought to pay attention to.
I heartily recommend Forbidden Island for anyone looking for a fun game at a reasonable price. The pieces are high quality, it comes in a decorative tin and the whole thing comes in under $18, although you can find it for as little as $14 if you keep your eyes open. Now get out there and find those relics! I hope you can hold your breath!
Designed by Matt Leacock
Published by Gamewright
For 2-4 Players
Plays in 30 minutes