Forbidden Jungle

Forbidden Jungle

RRP: £34.99
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RRP £34.99
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In Forbidden Jungle, your team has crash-landed on a mysterious jungle planet, and you need to work together to survive. Search the ruins of an abandoned outpost for an elusive escape portal, all while fending off an ever-growing horde of venomous creatures and an escalating chain of collapsing locations. Shift tiles to power up the portal and live to see another day!
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Very accessible for all ages and abilities without being too simplistic
  • A Nemesis/Aliens vibe without the associated price tag
  • Back in the tin? Count me in!

Might Not Like

  • Tough as a tanned trout…
  • Some of those aliens prefer a nice lie down
  • Not everyone likes a co-op
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Description

In Forbidden Jungle, your team has crash-landed on a mysterious jungle planet, and you need to work together to survive. Search the ruins of an abandoned outpost for an elusive escape portal, all while fending off an ever-growing horde of venomous creatures and an escalating chain of collapsing locations. Shift tiles to power up the portal and live to see another day!

Forbidden Jungle (1)

You’re In The Jungle, Baby – You’re Gonna Die!

Come on a Forbidden Jungle expedition, they said. It’ll be fun they said. Fortune and glory they said.

Well, I lost my helicopter in some god-forsaken desert, lost the last dreg of fortune over the edge of some storm-cursed sky realm and as for glory? What glory is there in dying in some alien jungle infested with the sort of creature that would give Stephen King nightmares, where you can’t even trust the ground you walk on.

I just want to get back home, and there’s no chance of that since we lost that rattle-trap of a rocket ship. If only there was something else in this green hell apart from vines, more vines, webs and the damned spiders that make them. Hold on… this looks like some kind of gate. Peeps, I know you’ve heard this before, more times than you’d probably have liked, but… I think I might have found a way out of here…

Forbidden Jungle is the fourth game in Matt Leacock’s ‘Forbidden’ series, and it will make a lot of fans happy straight off the bat as it is BACK IN A TIN!

Regardless of the tin thing, Forbidden Sky was not as well received as the two previous games, Forbidden Island and Desert. I mean, sure it was tough as old boots and introduced the idea of players ‘dying’ from either electrocution or being blown off the side of the sky-platform, but the game has some nice touches like magnetic components (hence, no tin) and a space ship with flashing lights and rocket noises – yay! There was also the new exploring mechanic (that possibly made it less popular than previous entries) where you had to find the ship before you could fuel it up, so there were times when you didn’t even see the rocket before you got wiped out. Most off putting.

Matt appears to have heard the criticism about the ‘you mean we gotta find the rocket first?’ and has acknowledged it. Kinda. Ish. Look, at least you can see all the map from the start, okay?

Is This A Stand-Up Fight, Or Just Another Bug Hunt?

If you are familiar with the Forbidden games (and I am not referring to Blood on the Clocktower) then Forbidden Jungle may seem a bit redundant, but it’s a bit different, so let’s do this. From two to five players select a character from one of six ne’er do wells – each one has its own special ability, action or benefit. Along one edge of the character card is that character’s life tracker where you attach a clip to show how much life you still have left. Next, you set up the board by placing the location tiles face down according to one of the designs available (the pattern of the play area will determine the difficulty) – most of the tiles will be jungle tiles, waiting to be explored, while some of the tiles are possible Power Crystals. The idea of the game is to find a Portal in the jungle, surround it with four Power Crystals, get everyone to the Portal and leave – hoping that this is the jump that will bring everyone home (a nice genre reference for all you youngsters over the age of forty out there). Only things are not so simple.

Firstly, the Forbidden jungle isn’t just a jungle – it’s a Space Port, and an unstable Space Port at that. Pieces of it have a habit of vanishing when you least expect it, leaving a gaping hole and less chance of powering up the portal before you fall prey to the spider-things.

Spider-things? Spider-things. They spin webs, but appear to float above the jungle floor, trailing legs/tendrils that give a nasty sting to anyone who gets near. Unpleasant enough individually, but after only a few stings the venom is capable of KOing a fully-grown adult – Goodnight San Diego. They don’t start off as spider-things though. First, they appear as eggs, then they hatch into over-sized maggot-things (Maggots? Maggots. sorry, too much Garth Merenghi) and then become spider-things – they grow up so fast. Fortunately, they don’t seem to have any eyes, which mean they wander aimlessly around the jungle according to their own groove, but it’s funny how they seem to turn up in just the wrong place at just the wrong time. And they appear to be very fertile, because every time you turn your back, more of the blighters seem to appear.

Well, we’re here now… might as well get on with it…

forbid

Green Heck

Each player in Forbidden Jungle has four actions available to use on their turn, and four standard actions to choose from – they may have additional actions according to their character. The actions are move, explore, clear a spider-thing/maggot-thing/egg/web or activate a machine. Machine? STOP THAT. Yes, this is an over-grown space port, there are machines, very useful machines as it happens.

Move and explore… we’ve seen them from other games – use one action to move to an adjacent, un-webbed tile (the explorer can move up to two). The webs spun by spider-things block your way, so it’s important to keep them down. Explore allows you to flip over a tile and reveal its true nature. This is the only way to find the machines and power stones (two of the six are duds) that will allow you to escape, but will also reveal equipment (good), tunnels (good-ish as they allow for easier movement but also hide critters) and nests (not good. Not good at all). The clear action is pretty… clear too – take a web, egg or beastie and return it to its supply. It’s important to keep an eye on the supply as, if there comes a time when you have to take a nasty from one of the supplies and there is none to take, you are OVER-RUN and the game is over. The other ways that the game can end is if you lose one of the four crystals or all of the portals or a player gets stung or fall to their death or the threat track tops out. Fab. So keeping the beasties in check is a good idea on all counts. Thank goodness for those magnificent machines at the space port, eh?

Now don’t get too excited – nothing as wonderful as the fabled travellators of Manchester Airport (THAT NEVER WORK – COME ON, PEEPS!), but still pretty useful.

Firstly, there are the Forbidden Jungle portals – as said before, crystals, activate, get out of dodge. But how to get the crystals around the portal. I am glad you asked; one of the machines is a tile-mover, which allows you to move a tile in one direction along any number of spaces, as long as it stops next to another tile. Remember those sliding block puzzles? Like those, but bigger and covered in beasties. Moving tiles also has the added benefit of snapping webs, which is nice.

Clear paths for sliding might be hard to find, but that’s okay – there are handy destruct buttons that allow you to destroy any tile on the board. Even ones that have players or beasties on, and players will be able to jump clear (if there is an adjacent tile) while beasties will not. In fact, it would be nice to get these beasties all in one place and then BOOM. That is where the compeller comes in, which allows you to move all the beasties from one tile onto another adjacent tile. Handy, especially when one of the tiles is an electrified kill-zone – that’s it beastie, just wander into the buzzing, crackling clearing, nothing to fear here. Don’t ask me why the space port had one of these – maybe it had a very strict customs policy?

Returning to actions, some characters have their own special actions too – the Healer will heal any player on their tile back up to full health (including themselves), the Biologist can clear a tile of all beasties, the chemist can clear a tile of all webs, the Spelunker can use a tunnel to go anywhere. Yeah, this sounds so easy – as long as nothing adverse happens, this will be a piece of pie.

Shame that the pie’s filling is TURMOIL AND CALAMITY…

I Like To Move It, Move It…

Forbidden Jungle would not be a Forbidden game if it didn’t have a deck o’ disaster, and this is no different. After a player’s turn, they must draw cards from Alien deck according to the threat level – the Novice level has you already drawing two cards – and none of these cards bring good news. Some cards will have beasties or eggs spawn in nests or from tunnels; some will have eggs hatch into maggot-things; some will have maggot things grow into spider-things; one of them will have the lowest numbered tile collapse – good bye, space rocket.

Most of the cards will move the beasties around the board or have the spider-things spin webs. These cards indicate the activity (maggot move, spider move, web spin) and one of four symbols. These correspond to the four sides of each tile. When the card says ‘move/web [this symbol]’, that is the way the relevant beastie will move or web in that direction. If the symbol is on the edge of the play area, they stay put (though it would be nice if they just moseyed off the edge of the platform) or don’t web. It’s a simple system, but works quite effectively and annoyingly, because when the spider-things move, they sting – both the square they go to and the square they come from. And it’s one sting per thing, which has resulted in more than one sting-fest in a game.

The last card to cover in Forbidden Jungle is the one you always see in the Forbidden games – Threat Rises, one with shuffle, one without. Raising the threat level will eventually increase the number of cards drawn and, if drawn enough, will result in max threat. The difference between this Threat Rises and previous Threat Rises is that, when you shuffle the cards and put them back, you put them on the bottom of the deck, meaning that all cards get a chance to shine. And isn’t that great?

Great.

Wiki! Wiki! Jungle Is Massive

The Forbidden series, because it is released by Gamewright, may get tagged as kids’ games, or a ‘My First Pandemic’ type thing, but do not underestimate this series – these games are HARD, and Forbidden Jungle is no exception. It takes elements of Island (the vanishing board and the tiles), a sprinkling of Desert (the sand mechanic – sprinkling, get it? – and the life tracker) and just a hint of Sky (choose your tile arrangement) then throws in a crash-load of meanie-minis. Trying to succeed in this game is like trying to rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time – you have to find the portal, find the right crystals, block puzzle them into position and avoid being over-run or stung to death by nasties. It is definitely a Forbidden game but also a bit of something else as well.

Co-op? Multi-stage minis? Hazardous landscape? Unreliable technology? Complete gang rush by the baddies? Come on, this is Nemesis Lite! Okay, so there isn’t the hidden mission back-stabby bit and there are no guns, but this is actually not a bad intro to the whole Nemesis vibe, and it is definitely no push over – my best performance in this game so far is one turn away from victory. Playing on the easiest map. On Novice.

But, if you are familiar with the Forbidden series, this is no bad thing – you turn around and say ‘okay, next we do this instead’ (I think our strategy for next time is going to be ‘get a third player’) and it plays nice and swift, so it’s not a case of ‘if’ we win but ‘when’ we win.

Components are familiar and functional, though the spider-things are a bit unsteady on their tentacles – it might be easier to have them laying down, especially when they get a bit numerous, and it is a given that the return of the tin will be appreciated by a good few. It is simple enough for a youngster or newcomer to pick up, tough enough for a veteran and in a price region that could happily considered by both. All in all, it’s a whole heap of xenomorph fun and we will defeat it one day…

… but if we step through that portal and end up back on that island, I swear…

Editors note: This post was originally published on 29th January 2024. Updated on 5th June 2024 to improve the information available.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Very accessible for all ages and abilities without being too simplistic
  • A Nemesis/Aliens vibe without the associated price tag
  • Back in the tin? Count me in!

Might not like

  • Tough as a tanned trout
  • Some of those aliens prefer a nice lie down
  • Not everyone likes a co-op