Beware, here be danger!
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island released by Portal Games and developed by Ignaczy.. is a brutal take on the survival genre. It seamlessly blends worker and tile placement with narrative adventure, and is probably one of the most challenging games that you will play, even though it is a cooperative game and your friends are there to get your back. Despite being a massive challenge, this is a game that you will constantly go back to due to the immersion of the narrative and the fact that you find yourself just needing to resolve one of the scenarios.
Robinson Crusoe has you abandoned on an island with only your friend Friday and your dog there to help you. The box provides 6 scenarios plus you can get a bunch more formal and fan made on BGG. The scenarios range from saving a damsel in distress and making fire through to plotting against cannibals on the Cursed Island.
Each turn, or day in game terms, you are required to make decisions on what to do with your team members. Much like Pandemic, this game can be played solo (using 1 or more characters plus Friday and Dog) or can be played coop, with team mates taking the various roles of Explorer, Cook, Carpenter or Soldier. In addition to the scenario goals, you must also ensure that your building is weather fit and that each of your characters have enough food to get them through the night.
The main challenge is that the scenario is difficult enough, with a set amount of turns to complete your task, but then you have to feed everyone as well, lest they lose health and succumb to the island. When one character succumbs, that’s it, game over. So you must play a balancing act of who will get food or supplies, who will explore and get what is needed for the task at hand, and who will battle wild animals to ensure that you stay safe. But then the night time comes, and with that the terrors of the weather dice..
The dice can be particularly brutal as they will further sap your energy and wellbeing if you haven’t made a stable enough shelter to last the night, not to mention that you may also get attacked by wild animals. When morning comes though, the horrors don’t end, as you must draw more Action cards which determine what will happen today, usually pretty benign, but that means that the action on your previous cards may then be activated and this can mean anything from injury, to loss of tools, to exhaustion of food supplies.
So after all of that, how is the game? Brilliant, but totally unforgiving. Have a day where you want to try to reach the goal, but fail and haven’t collected food? Tough luck, you will probably pay for that for the rest of the game. In saying that there is something captivating about the stress and drama in the game, the feeling that you may not make it. Given time (up to 180min) I find myself drawn to this game, but it is a game that you have to be present for, for the while game. No daydreaming, no phones, just pure attention, otherwise the island may well claim you.
Have you played Robinson Cruse: Adventures on the Cursed Island? If so, give us your thoughts below.
Note: I would highly recommend the 2nd Edition as there were major upgrades to the Instruction Manual making it easier to understand. The original manual is apparently almost impossible to follow.