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Forbidden Island - Board Game Box Shot

Forbidden Island

, | Published: 2011
185 10 9

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game of strategy and courage as you and up to three other adventurers attempt to capture the four ancient treasures hidden on a sinking island. It's a thrilling adventure based on the best-selling Gamewright board game.

Forbidden Island was the secluded retreat of an ancient mystical empire known as the Archeans. Legend has it that the Archeans possessed the ability to control the Earth's elements - fire, wind, water, and earth - through four sacred treasures: The Crystal of Fire, The Statue of the Wind, The Ocean's Chalice, and The Earth Stone. Because of their potential to cause catastrophic damage if they fell into enemy hands, the Archeans kept the treasures secretly hidden on Forbidden Island and designed it to sink if intruders ever attempted to claim them. In the centuries since the mysterious collapse of their empire, Forbidden Island remained undiscovered ... until now.

Will your team be the first to breach its borders, capture the treasures, and make it out alive?

Forbidden Island character selection Forbidden Island gameplay Forbidden Island treasures

Awarded as Mensa Select in 2010 and nominated for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award in 2011, Forbidden Island is a fantastic game that's fun and engaging for all who play.


  • Co-operative gameplay for 2-4 players
  • Single player gameplay (by controlling multiple Adventurers)
  • Game Center Achievements
  • Two board layouts for playing side-by-side or around a table
  • Unlimited game saves so you can maintain many in progress games
  • Beautiful artwork from the original game, plus loads of brand new artwork
  • Easy to read rulebook
  • Interactive tutorial to guide players through their first game
  • Optional hints for context specific help mid-game
  • Facebook and Twitter integration. Share your Achievements! (Twitter integration only available for iOS 5)

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User Reviews (4)

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Treasure Chest
Smash Up Fan
Platinum Supporter
118 of 125 gamers found this helpful
“The most fun I've had not winning in a long time.”

The setup:
You’re an ‘Indiana Jones’ type adventurer. Relics, artifacts, treasure – these are the things that make you jump out of the bed in the morning and fill your dreams at night. And you’ve heard about this island filled with them…

The island has different ideas. Each turn the island is starting to sink back beneath the ocean waves, dragging it’s secrets back to the ocean floor. Unfortunately, you are already on the island. You’re going to have a very eventful day.

I could describe how the island is sinking, how the cards you draw can help you get closer to relics or your ultimate doom, or how much fun you’ll have losing. Instead, I’ll have you watch an episode of “Table Top” about the physical version of Forbidden Island with a gameplay runthrough, which plays very much like the iPad version:

Watch “Table Top” with Wil Wheaton all about Forbidden Island on YouTube

The iPad version of Forbidden Island does instruction right: even if you don’t go through the tutorial game (which is very informative, btw) the game itself still guides you through the steps you need to complete the mechanics of the game. Whoever thought of this way of guiding the game deserves a hug. But all I can do is give him or her my hard earned cash.

You start off with two tile configurations for the island, and for $1 more there’s an in game purchase for 10 other island tile configurations. I love the idea of losing with new and exciting tile configurations. I parted with another buck for the new configurations, although the more difficult configs will not help my chances of winning. I love supporting great games, and this is one of those.


Buy it. This game has a multiplayer component for pass-and-play, and another for up to four people to sit around an iPad and play – but for me it’s the availability for solo play. On a sleepless night at 4am (more likely scenario), or with my pals at the local coffee monger (the less likely scenario), Forbidden Island for the iPad is a real winner. Even though you won’t win, because this island is sinking. Fast.

Bob Ball
Voice actor at,
host of quiz show “PopQuizzical” on iTunes,
mental giant on game show “Word Rango” on iTunes

Player Avatar
Grand Master Grader
Guardian Angel
Advanced Reviewer
Rosetta Stone
120 of 128 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A deadly dose of doom and drama on the go!”

A swift opinion:
*Simple, cooperative fare that shares mechanics similar to that of Pandemic
*Handy tutorials and swift interface ensure gameplay is rapid and smooth.
*Solid price point for a game with good replay value.

A wordy opinion:Forbidden Island is a co-op game that entices you and three others to visit its shores with the promise of four colourful ancient artifacts. What the brochure doesn’t tell you, is that all it takes is the weight of at least two intrepid explorers to force the entirety of the mainland to slowly sink. Then again, this probably should’ve been apparent when browsing for travel insurance. Nevertheless, the intrepid among you must battle through the islands glorious locales in a bid to collect all of these precious artifacts before they get wet…and dissolve. The digital edition retains the stress, drama and a few foibles of the original, but puts them forth in a tidier, cheaper, more commuter friendly form.

In the race to discover four artifacts, players take three actions ranging from moving around the island itself, to shoring up tiles and gifting items to other players. Every turn they’ll pluck up two adventure cards that show a particular artifact. Once someone has gathered four cards that show the same artifact, they can trade them in for a funky little trophy that can be gained at specific locations. Gather four and they can escape the island with grand forms of wealth.

Forbidden Island follows a rather traditional form of cooperation seen in Pandemic. It’s a welcome likeness, I mean, it’s only one of the most glorious teamwork based games of all time, but the foe in Forbidden Island comes from a greater environmental danger; the island itself. As turns go by, flood cards reveal sections of the island that become submerged in water. If a location is drawn that’s already coated in wet, it succumbs to the wrath of the ocean and sinks. It certainly create a rather theatrical sense of tragedy, and the island slowly chips away with you still on it.

However, I also find that this means of creating drama can be a bit detrimental. Of course, all cooperative games are meant to be challenging, but as rows and columns of tiles can quickly become flooded, then the game will occasionally chuck a huge wall of despair at you by cutting everyone off and therefore causing a loss. It’s not due to poor design. Sometimes the luck of the draw simply chucks you into some rather unfortunate dead ends. In other co-op games, even when you’re in danger of falling into the void of failure, you still hold out all hope against defeat, spurring on in a bid to somehow reverse the odds. In a fair few games of Forbidden Island, the despair is just altogether too strong, as players can’t reach others in time to save them from doom.

One of the biggest draws of physical copies of tabletop games in comparison to their digital counterparts is the satisfaction of holding components in your hands. The physical editions artifacts are wonderful to grasp hold of, especially after you’ve fought so hard for them. However, the digital version doesn’t exactly pale in comparison when it comes to aesthetics. The tiles retain their lovely Myst like artwork and those pesky treasures are wonderfully illustrated. Together with the slickness of animations and the fact that you’re not going to have to do any tidying up afterwards, it’s a rather minor sacrifice.

I made it clear in my review for the physical copy of Forbidden Island that it’s a great cooperative game, but that there were alternatives I would rather spend my hard earned cash on. With the cooperative game pool growing ever greater in quantity and quality, I still stand by that comment. However, with a decent price point, user friendly tutorials and a commuter friendly nature, it’s certainly worth taking the plunge.

Player Avatar
Hockey Fan
My First Game Tip
113 of 124 gamers found this helpful
“ its ok”

one of the things I like about digital versions of these games is the lack of mess/ upkeep of the individual pieces- so I tend to buy the digital versions when available- I also like that they are much more cost efficient than their actual game costs- which is why I bought this game. I had seen it on this site and at the store and wondered if i would like to play it- committing to the $5.00 was easier than the $20ish at the store.

Having said all this- I am glad that I bought this version and not the actual game. I am still relatively new to all these types of games and just started playing cooperative games this fall and enjoy what I know of them- so far, I think Pandemic is my favorite. This game reminds me a little of Pandemic but for some reason- not nearly as fun. The idea is similar- gather enough of a particular card to turn in and (in this case) rescue the object. Once you rescue the four objects, you then have to get all players to a particular place on the board (and this is the particular twist I like) and then you can leave the island and win the game.
Like other co-ops, you are assigned a particular job/skill that can help move everyone along in the game- and depending on the skill- the ease of actually winning can vary.

In this game- the board (individual tile cards) is sinking- every turn more of it sinks- if the card is sunk completely- you loose that piece of the island. Loose the piece that you need to leave the island- the game ends with you loosing. Loose the treasure places before you rescue the treasure- you loose. Be on a piece that sinks with no connecting “dry” land you loose.
However- what i find frustrating is that the game has created little use for me to care about any of the island that isn’t a treasured place, the landing or in the path in between. There is no “reason” to worry about the other parts of the island (much like Pandemic when you win with the viruses still running on the board).

The game is easy enough to learn and is mildly entertaining- but it lacks the story/motivation/something for me to care about the whole board- which leaves me wanting something more.

In other words- worth the $5.00 for the digital board (especially since I can play it by myself) but I don’t see me buying the hard copy of this game. So- just ok.

Player Avatar
I'm a Player!
100 of 135 gamers found this helpful
“Decent cooperative”

Just played for the first time:

This game involves a team of players collecting relics on an island that is sinking. Collect cards, move around, “repair” parts of the sinking island, use your sandbags, use a helicopter to fly around, exchange relic cards with other gamers … all before the island slips away. As the game goes along, the island sinks more quickly.

Card based game with movement around the island.

A good game if you don’t want to get too involved with rules and long time commitment. Good for younger players too. May be a bit too easy for experienced players; if you get a bad run of “sinking cards”, you’re toast. But otherwise, it seems like you can win if there are no major ******** by your team of gamers. Generally a good good rating, except for replay (over and over again).

If you’re doing a bunch of gaming, it might be a good “filler” game on the side, or to occupy a bit of time while another game finishes up.


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