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Panic Island

The volcano is erupting and the island is in danger! Can you work together to save all the inhabitants, human and non-human alike?

Panic Island is a cooperative memory game, in which players must race against the clock to reveal the right combination of cards, in order to successfully evacuate the island.

Gameplay

Players start by laying the island cards face down in the center of the table in a five by five grid, with the volcano card in the center. There are different combinations of cards you can use, but the rulebook suggests which ones new players should start with. There are thee different types of character cards: cave dwellers, dodos, and dodo eggs. They will either be colored yellow or red. Additionally, there are action cards, and a raft and a paddle card. Players start the two minute timer and the game begins.

As the timer counts down, players take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If you find either the raft or the paddle card, these are set aside. You must find both of these before the timer runs out or else you lose the game entirely. If you flip over the volcano, the game is immediately over.

You must flip a dodo and an egg of a matching color in order to rescue the egg and remove it from the grid. You must flip over a cave dweller and a dodo of a matching color in order to rescue a dodo and remove it from the board.

Once per game, a single player may shout "Gouga!" Players then take turns naming a character card (caver dweller, egg, or dodo) and flipping it over. If you are correct, that character is rescued and removed from the grid, and the next player can attempt to name a card. If you are wrong, the Gouga phase ends and may not be activated again. This is the only way to rescue cave dwellers from off of the island.

When action cards are revealed you must perform the action shown on it, such as swapping cards, switching seats with other players, or returning a rescued character card to the island.

Once the game ends, players calculate their score based on how many character cards they rescued.

Panic Island Components

Review

Panic Island is a clever twist on the memory game mechanic everyone is familiar with. This makes it easy to teach and learn, but the new elements keep it from being too simple or dull. Adding a cooperative angle is also clever, while the timing element keeps things tense, and increases the mistakes made.

There is a lovely element of triumph when a "Gouga!” round is pulled off particularly well, and it’s surprisingly difficult to remember card locations when the timer is ticking down. Blue Orange Games also offers a soundtrack to download, which adds to the ambiance and theme of the game.

The game is great for taking to parties or when traveling, as is comes in a zippered tin case that takes up a minimal amount of room. Each game is also so fast that you can play multiple rounds, or have players jump in and out quite easily. It can be a bit tricky to find the right table space for it however, as you want everyone close to the tiles and some action cards require more room than others to perform.

Panic Island is light, quick, and makes for a great filler or if you only have a short amount of time to play. It’s a solid family game, but adult game groups can have fun with it as well. It also comes with a small pack of additional cards to open once you have beat the game, which includes different combinations of action cards — a fun target to work towards. If you enjoy putting your memory to the test, or racing against the clock, Panic Island is a well-produced combination of the two mechanics and a good time.

Pros: Fast game, good presentation, interesting blend of memory game and cooperation

Cons: Can be difficult to find the right space to play

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.