Forbidden Desert

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Forbidden Desert App Poster Image
Challenging co-op adventure will make you thirsty for more.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can practice communication, teamwork, strategy, and decision-making skills. 

Ease of Play

Tutorial and hints are available.


Mild peril: Players "die" if they run out of water. Nothing graphic, but younger kids might be upset if they die.


Links from the main menu to purchase other apps in the App Store. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game based on a board game of the same name. Two to five players work together to escape the desert, although a solo player can play multiple roles. Some kids might be upset by the idea that their character can "die" by running out of water. Also, it can be challenging to win, even at the default Normal difficulty. Note: There was no privacy policy available at the time of review.

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What's it about?

FORBIDDEN DESERT leaves players (two to five) stranded in the desert on a hot, sunny day with little water and just a few tools. The goal? Find the scattered parts of a Flying Machine, reassemble it, and fly to safety. The challenge is that there are sand storms blocking your path, and the sun is only getting hotter. During each turn, a player can move, clear sand, dig to look for parts, or unearth parts. Each player also has special abilities to contribute to the team. Unfortunately, at the end of each turn, the wind picks up and adds more sand to the board. You'll need to get out of there before the sand buries you forever in the desert. Oh, and also: If one player dies, you're all doomed. Good luck! Forbidden Desert has a tutorial with in-game hints and five difficulty levels for those who like an extra challenge.

Is it any good?

This cooperative game is just challenging enough at the lower difficulty levels that you'll need to work together, plan ahead, and hope for a bit of luck. It's purely devious at the higher levels. Forbidden Desert is a constantly changing environment that will keep players on their toes, while still allowing enough control to prevent the feeling that it's a purely random experience. It can be enjoyed by mixed ages, especially if older/more experienced players make it a point to listen to others. The app version allows someone to easily play solo, taking on as many player roles as desired. The screen real estate could be used better -- some icons are unnecessarily small -- but navigation is easy, and the tutorial tool tips help new players understand the rules. This is a great game to play on the go when you don't want to carry a game board with you but are ready for a group activity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cooperation and team work. Why is it important in Forbidden Desert? How can it help you win or lose? What are other areas of your life where teamwork is important?

  • Talk about making plans. How does planning ahead help with winning Forbidden Desert? Are there parts of the game that make planning ahead more difficult?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love multiplayer apps and board games

Themes & Topics

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