uk-games-expoLast month at the UK Games Expo, GameWright demoed Matt Leacock’s Forbidden Desert, and it does exactly what a good sequel should do.

With a strong immersive flavor and excellent components from GameWright, it brings a new feel from mechanisms the players are likely to know and enjoy. You can almost hear the desert sound track floating across the dunes as you frantically dig. I found the game and it’s excellent production and film-can presentation conjured up a very cinematic feel reminding me of everything from the Mummy, Return of the Jedi, and Indiana Jones. If tense, high theme co-operative games have a place at your table, this comes highly recommended.

Forbidden Desert Setup

Sequels are not a new concept. In the movie world, if you enjoyed the first film, you will return for more of the same. There is less need for scene setting and less time taken to explain the concepts behind the characters and the situations they find themselves in. In the board gaming world this is normally accomplished through expansion sets with true sequels being rare but not unheard of.

Forbidden Desert though, is exactly this: a true sequel to Forbidden Island – more of the same, with a refreshing new twist.

Between two and five players select a role card (each with a different rule bending ability) and work in cooperation to find four pieces of an ancient airship to escape from the Island Desert. The desert tiles are laid out face down and are flipped up (excavated) to reveal abilities or effects of sorts, which is a nice touch and gets plays communicating and moving around the board looking for the aircraft parts that can be located once the co-ordinates are found through excavation of the part location tiles. Having taken one of four different actions in a turn, the player takes on the role of the sandstorm and reveals cards that determine where sand markers land on the board. So the board gets buried in sand and locations become impassable once the sand markers exceed a certain level.

Visually this game is a treat. The sand markers building up on the desert tiles and moving the board turn-on-turn gives the feeling of digging in sand and racing to find the treasure before the sands shift against you. Adding to the feel, there are ancient ‘gear’ cards that can be excavated give the players with them abilities to use in the rest of the game. Another new twist is the need for preservation where players need a constant supply of water to survive. Teamwork is critical because all players need to survive to win, so pass the water canteen around and get digging!