Every so often a game comes along where players feel they have been recruited as part of of a psychology experiment. The Mind (Pandasaurus/Coiledspring) is a good example, notwithstanding its long list of board game awards. Another is Unusual Suspects (Cranio Creations), which always seems like an exercise in racial profiling. Color Code, published by Chili Island and distributed by Queen Games is another one for the psychology students.
In this fully cooperative party game designed by Julien Gupta and Johannes Berger, three random words are placed out and one player (the 'Color Coder') chooses a colour that they associate with that word. The other players (the game is designed for 2-6, tho' you could readily slip in more players) discuss among themselves and decide on the colours they think have been chosen. There's more to it, in that you're collectively scoring and trying to get at least two right each turn, but that essentially is the game. And as with most party games, the fun mainly comes through the discussion, argument and banter that determine the team's guesses.
There's a medical condition known as synaesthesia where one cognitive pathway in the brain triggers an involuntary experience in a second pathway. Philosopher John Locke recorded the earliest example of this in 1690 when he claimed to have experienced the colour red when he heard the sound of a trumpet. Locke would be in his element playing Color Code - tho' he'd ideally want to be playing with a team of similarly affected/afflicted players. Certain words, of course, have obvious associations: for most of the team at Board's Eye View the word 'spices' suggests cinnamon, ginger and the like - so we naturally gravitated towards the light brown colour. Others are very much more subjective: which colour do you associate with the word 'creativity'? The word cards all have rainbow backs so we all thought that a better choice for 'LGBTQ+' than any of the individual colours on offer.
There are optional additional rules included in the box, including clue tokens that can be used to help the team. The Insider token can be used by the Color Coder to signify a connection or association with a specific other player - so, for example, if I drive a red car then you might play the token on the word 'car' and point to me. Playing the Color Filter narrows the team's choices by showing them a colour that has not been used for any of the three words in the display. And the team can choose to play a 50/50 token that lets them hedge their bets by placing out two colours for a word. Finally there are 'bonus' tokens that, for scoring purposes, allow players to double down on an answer so that, if correct, it will count as two matches.
We were impressed with the downloadable step-by-step walkthrough that quickly shows new players how to play. Running through this is quicker and easier than reading the rulebook or even watching a conventional 'how to play' video. We'd like to see publishers make more use of these Powerpoint-style rules introductions.
You can expect to play through this light family-friendly party game in around 30 minutes. If you keep score, the rulebook will rate your collective performance based on the 'levels' achieved, ranging from 'Amateurs' (Level 1) to 'Perfect' (Level 6). It seems tho' that Chili Island have put Yoda in charge of the ratings as the comment for Level 2 is 'Much to learn you still have' :-)