Playing a game of Forbidden Island
is simpler than explaining it, but here goes. This is a cooperative game, which is a bit unusual. The point is not to beat your opponents, but to work with them to collect treasure and "escape" the island. How you do this goes a bit differently each time you play. There are several roles one can choose in the game, allowing each player to bring a "super power" into the mix and make things more interesting. To win, players must collect treasure pieces and gather their game pieces on a single tile to flee the island. It sounds like a "race" game, which it most certainly is not. In race games, your success is directly related to the dice rolls, and winning is just a matter of time. You only lose a race game because the other guys are luckier. In Forbidden Island
, you have to make decisions each turn that can literally mean the difference between all players winning and losing. This adds a very nice twist that keeps the stakes high and makes the average game quick and exciting.
Those special roles we mentioned have a big impact on each turn. The island is slowly sinking, so you always have to choose between moving around in search of treasure and shoring up waterlogged tiles. If a tile floods twice, it's gone forever, which could mean you lose a treasure forever or your way off the island. The Engineer role can shore up two tiles for the price of one, making it very valuable. The Diver can navigate through open water, and more quickly, making it a good endgame role. As you experiment with two, three, or four-player games, you'll find different role combinations that make the game easier to win. All the same, the fact that there is a deck of shuffled cards lends plenty of chance to the proceedings. It's fun to earn achievements in the iPad version, but the biggest achievement is winning against the clock and the encroaching waters of Forbidden Island.