Forbidden Desert: Review


Our Rating:

Deep in the ancient desert is a legendary flying machine that is said to be powered by the sun. You and your team have been sent by helicopter to find and retrieve it. An intense storm picks up just before you land and you are forced to make a crash landing. With your helicopter ruined, your only chance at survival is to find the flying machine, put it back together and escape before the storm gets too strong or you run out of water in the intense heat. It is life and death out here in the desert and if you can’t complete the mission you will become permanent artifacts of the Forbidden Desert. You knew it would be risky, but if you work together you just might make it out.

Number of Players

Time to Play



45 mins



My Rating:


  • Moving eye of the storm
  • Hidden flying machine parts
  • More challenging than Forbidden Island
  • Easy to learn


  • Would like to be able to make it a bit more difficult

Intro/First Impressions

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative board game that requires you to work together with your team of adventurers to uncover the parts of an ancient flying machine, reassemble it and use it to escape the storm that caused you to crash your helicopter and leave you stranded.

The game itself is fairly simple to learn and ever changing. It is a great coop option that is more friendly for younger and new gamers. For reasons I will get to below, it is not my favorite cooperative game to play, but I do still think it is a fantastic option that would make a great addition to your game collection.


The creators of Forbidden Desert added some fun elements that I haven't experienced in a game before. The collection of games they make focus more on children's games, but Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island are great for the whole family. Forbidden Island is also a cooperative game that plays much like Forbidden Desert except for it is not as complicated and doesn't have as high of replayability.

Forbidden Island was released in 2010 and Forbidden Desert followed in 2013. While the games are very similar, I feel you could own both games and love them both. Unless you have played and love Pandemic like I do. It is by far my favorite coop game, the mechanics are fantastic and the majority of the games we play are nail bitingly close. Pandemic was released in 2008 and while the Forbidden games are different, I feel they are too similar and just not as great as Pandemic.

Looking to learn more about Cooperative Board Games? Check out...
The Best Cooperative Board Games!

Fun fact, even though the Forbidden games are published by a different company than Pandemic, they were all designed by Matt Leacock.

Despite my favoritism of Pandemic, I do think that either Forbidden game is a great option with my preference being for Forbidden Desert. Any player that is new to the gaming world, younger players, or someone that appreciates a slightly less intense cooperative game would all love playing it.

One fantastic feature is that you are able to change the difficulty level, this makes the game more friendly. They added an additional storm level (difficulty level) change depending on how many players you are playing with which is a nice added feature.

The ability to customize your game in this way means you won't get frustrated by an unbeatable game but also won't get bored with it over time as you discover some strategies.

Another changing aspect of the game that I like is the random role (adventurer) cards. Each card has special abilities that will make them more helpful with certain elements of play. There are 6 cards total and you shuffle them up and deal one to each player. Although there may be some of the same roles each game, the randomization forces you to do without your favorite role some games and rely on other special abilities to get through it.

Now it’s time to get to my absolute favorite part of Forbidden Desert. The moving eye of the storm! I LOVE this element of the game, it's the reason I come back to this game. When we made our list of the best Cooperative board games, we decided not to include Forbidden Desert because of its similarities to Pandemic. Only the moving eye of the storm feature is so great we couldn’t leave it out which is why it’s an honorable mention.

When you initially set up the game you set up the individual tiles in a 5 x 5 grid with an empty space in the middle which is the eye of the storm. Throughout the game you will have to flip storm cards, and when you do this the storm moves the tiles around creating a new location for the eye.

Without getting into too much detail, the tiles that are moved by the storm are covered with more sand, and a different area of the board is in danger (although nowhere is ever really safe) There is something about the storm moving around that has me hooked. It really ups the tension in a different way than I have experienced in other games.

The other element that I find very special is that the flying machine parts that need to be excavated are hidden. In Forbidden Island you know the locations of the treasures you are searching for which makes the game easier. To locate the flying machine parts you have to excavate (flip over) tiles, some tiles have arrows that point you in the direction of a part.

Looking to learn more about Forbidden Island? Check out...
Our Review Of Forbidden Island Here

Since the tiles can be moved around by the eye of the storm, the location of the parts are also moving around which can make them hard to recover. This can become frustrating but ups the difficulty and makes the game that much more fun in my eyes.

Lastly, you are always battling both the storm and the sun. The suns is making you more and more dehydrated and you are at risk of running out of water. Throughout the challenging process of collecting the flying machine pieces you also have to worry about hiding out from the sun and keeping your water levels up. This can be incredibly difficult especially when you are close to the end.

If you run out of sand tiles that means you got caught up in the storm and you lose. Also if you run out of water you lose.


Forbidden Desert is a super fun cooperative game that is fun for everyone. It sucks you into the stress of the challenge and every game is different giving it a high replayability factor. One of the best parts is the low price tag that makes it a great option for you wallet. Cooperative board games are my favorite type of board game and Forbidden Desert is one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. If you have been thinking about adding Forbidden Desert to your collection, or even if you had never heard about it before and just stumbled across my review, it is a great game to make room for!

About the author


I love playing board games with my family and friends! If i'm not doing that you can usually find me belting out a song or drinking way too much coffee! Check out my full biography on the about me page!

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