Jan 9, 2013
Genre: Board Game
Publisher: Button Mash Games
To find any two-player cooperative board game on the iPad is rare, and it’s a real treat when such a game manages to be compelling and challenging for casual gamers as well as experienced board game fans. Forbidden Island is a co-op iPad board game that has both of these qualities. Although it’s priced a bit higher than some board games on the App Store, Forbidden Island has so much going for it that it’s easy to recommend to almost any iPad owner who enjoys tabletop gaming.
Forbidden Island is a digital conversion of an award-winning 2010 board game. The rules are simple enough that children can easily understand them, and adults will find the game equally enjoyable when the difficulty level is ramped up.
Forbidden Island iPad Review
The premise of Forbidden Island on the iPad is simple; you and at least one partner are treasure hunters, and your goal is to pilfer four fabulous artifacts from an island that’s slowly sinking under your feet. The longer you take to find the treasures, the more quickly the island sinks until you — and the treasures — are lost beneath the waves.
At the end of each turn, you’ll collect two treasure cards. You can claim a treasure when you have four of the cards associated with it, but you can hold a maximum of just five cards. This means that you’ll need to discard wisely or hand cards off to your partner. However, you can’t concentrate solely on collecting treasures; each turn, some of the island’s tiles will flood. If a tile floods and is drawn from the flood deck again, it sinks permanently.
To prevent a tile from disappearing, you have the ability to use any number of your three action points per turn to “shore up” flooded tiles. Shoring up a tile returns it to its normal state until it is drawn from the flood deck again — but this is only a temporary fix. Hidden within the treasure deck are three “Waters Rise” cards. When one of these cards is drawn, more tiles are flooded at the end of each turn. In addition, the flood cards previously drawn are shuffled and returned to the top of the deck, which means they’ll be flooded again soon. At higher difficulty levels, Forbidden Island begins with the water level set to a higher number, forcing your team to act more quickly.
You can perform just three actions per turn in Forbidden Island; possible actions include giving a treasure card to a partner, moving to a new tile, shoring up a tile and collecting a treasure. You’ll constantly be forced to make difficult decisions. However, there are a few tricks that can help turn the tide in your favor. In addition to the treasure and Waters Rise cards, the treasure deck holds a few helicopter and sandbag cards. These allow you to move or shore up tiles without using action points. In addition, each player has one special ability depending on the role he or she selects before the game begins; the Pilot, for example, can move any number of tiles for one action point once per turn. The Engineer can use one action point to shore up two tiles. These roles add greatly to Forbidden Island’s variety and replay value.
Forbidden Island iPad: The Bottom Line
Forbidden Island is a perfect digital adaptation of a challenging and highly entertaining board game. During the review process, we found that the game responded crisply to taps and gestures and did not slow down or crash. You can read the rules quickly and be up and running within minutes, and games take no longer than about a half hour. The game also comes with an alternate map, and a set of additional maps is available via a $.99 in-app purchase. With all of its challenge and variety, Forbidden Island is certain to keep you coming back often, making it a great value even at the $4.99 price point.