Our Forbidden Island review, what we have to say about the cooperative race against the clock game. You and other players take turns moving your pawns around the ‘island’, which is built by arranging the many beautifully screen-printed tiles before play begins. As the game progresses, more and more island tiles sink, becoming unavailable, and the pace increases. Players use strategies to keep the island from sinking while trying to collect treasures and items. As the water level rises, it gets more difficult- sacrifices must be made.

We took a look across fun, replayability, player interaction, quality and art & style to come up with the overall score for our Forbidden Island review. See the breakdown by category below.

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Fun (6 out of 10)

Cooperative survival is a very specific genre that does happen to have a good sampling of games in it. The gold standard of these is typically held to the Pandemic series. Forbidden Island doesn’t beat Pandemic but it does a good job of getting close. If you like this type of game, Forbidden Island has all the ingredients of the cocktail that will excite you. It is overall one of the more fun games in this space. The game is paced smart but it is fun because the actions, and their reactions, are well balanced to be challenging.

Replayability (3 out of 10)

The way that Forbidden Island makes itself replayable is that it is a tough challenge that can get harder once you are able to beat it. Nothing is fresh in the actual gameplay. Sure the location tiles are in different locations each time, but that really doesn’t do anything to change the game. In something like Pandemic, you have different routes to master and lab constraints. This is just a square, regardless of change, you are still basically moving in the same manner. The freshness gets lost pretty quick.

Player Interaction (7 out of 10)

The top scores in this Forbidden Island review that you are going to see are in player interaction. It is a cooperative game so there is supposed to be lots of interaction, but even by those standards, this is a well done element. Everyone follows the same action restraints but like some other games in this subgenre, there are variable player powers. Using everyone’s unique power in the right way is done in rich and satisfying ways. Things can get out of control quickly and if you are not constantly working these, it is over.

Quality (6 out of 10)

This is a well put together game, so much so that it has spawned a series of many more stand alone “Forbidden” series. There is nothing groundbreaking and there are others in this space that might be a better option for you, but it is a very solid option. Components are ok. The stock is thicker and more luxurious than most, but publisher Gamewrite uses those silver tins for their games that are famously terrible and staying together in transport. Over all, better than most but not the best.

Art & Style (5 out of 10)

The art and style of Forbidden Island is definitely consistent and well thought out. All the locations each have their own location art that is a fine use of the space. There is not much to it, but there is not supposed to be. They do a fine job but this is not the area of the Forbidden Island review where the game shines.


Forbidden Island Review | Board Game Halv

As far as this Forbidden Island review goes, we recommend the game to anyone who likes cooperative adventure challenges. This game is a lovely option in the team survival space and worth your time. It has not reinvented anything and the replayability is right, but it in itself has created an overall experience that has left its mark on board game culture.

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Editor's Rating:

See the full explanation of the judging criteria here.

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