The Lost Lighthouse Plays: Cortex Challenge

​Welcome back everyone! Well, as we gear ourselves up for Xmas, yes already, we decided to look at a few games we thought could make your gaming partner/friend/cat’s day even better. We have a selection of games ranging from small to large, to fit anyone’s needs/stocking. 

Today we will be looking at Cortex Challenge (designed by Johan Benvenuto & Nicolas Bourgoin). I’m so glad I was able to review Cortex Challenge, whether we should or not, we judge things by the cover and it’s box gave me the vibe of stocking filler normally found by the till in department stores, thankfully it’s so far from this! For me, Cortex fits in the ever growing & popular quick party game category. 

Cortex has a delightfully short rules set, 3 very small pages. You set up the game by shuffling the challenge cards (excluding the textured touch cards) and placing them face down in the middle of the table. The back of each card will tell you what type of challenge the group is about to play. If someone thinks they have solved the challenge they ether perform the action the card tells them to or they cover the card and shout the answer. Ok, you don’t have to shout but I bet you will! If that player is correct then they receive a piece of their brain token. A player needs 4 tokens to complete their brain and win the game. Each player also needs to feel the touch cards as they may get a chance to win a touch challenge in the game.

In Cortex you and up to 5 others will test your grey matter through 8 possible brain games:

1) Memory. For this challenge you will have a card with 5 items on it. Cover the card and say the items out loud to win the challenge. 

2) Maze. Cover the card and say which letter is the correct path out the maze.

3) Colour. Cover the card and say which word is written in it’s own colour.

4) Coordination. Place the corresponding finger/s on the part of your face it tells you to.

5) Duplicates. Cover the card and say which picture has appeared twice on the card.

6) Frequency. Cover the card and say which number has appeared the most.

7) Reasoning. Cover the card and say which shape fits the diagram shown.

8) Touch. If this card comes up, then the person who won the last challenge has a chance to win again. The person in question has to close their eyes while the rest of the group chooses one of the touch cards for the person to try and guess. If they get it right they win another piece of brain!

There’s so many things I love about Cortex. First off, it can fit so many points in a gaming night. Fancy a quick pre or post dinner game, it fits. Want a game to get you excited before a longer game, perfect. Is it small enough to carry in my bag to a friend’s house just in case we can get a quick game in, yes! Is it easy enough to explain/play so non gamers can enjoy, BOOM, it is. Also the price point is perfect for Xmas only costing RRP £12.99. 

Not the best opponent.

 The only downside to Cortex is, like a lot of games, there are types of people that will excel or be awful at this game. If you have a problem solving personality you will probably keep wining, so someone who doesn’t will keep losing. Cleverly there’s different types of challenges and we found some people were better at one type than another. Also, the game is short enough that it’s doubtful someone doing badly will get board and it’s exciting just to play let alone win. 

If you like games like Dobble or Jungle Speed then I’m confident you’ll enjoy this. I love those games and Cortex will happily sit next to them in my collection.

The Lost Lighthouse Reviews: Timeline Inventions

When were rubbish bags invented? I’ll tell you, 1950. I don’t know how I know this very random fact, but never the less, I do. I don’t know how I knew it when I won my first game of Timeline: Inventions, but I did. It wasn’t even a guess, I knew it. I feel I’ve skipped ahead some what, in the voice of Bo Selecta Craig David, can I get a rewind!

The aim of Timeline: Inventions is simple. Each player has a certain amount of double-sided cards. One side has a picture and name of an invention, and the other side is the same but has the date also. Players lay their cards date side down.  Then one card is drawn from the remaining pile, and placed it the centre of the board, date side up . This is our starting point for the timeline. The first player chooses one of their inventions and decide wether or not it came before or after that first card. If they think before they place it to the left of the start card, if they think after they place it to the right. Then they flip their card, if they are correct (yay!) the card stays where it is, if they are wrong, it gets discarded and they have to draw a new one (boo!). Then the second player goes, but they now the timeline has, possibly, two cards on it. So does it go before, after, or in between these dates! As the game progresses the timeline gets bigger and it’s harder to place cards as the dates get closer together. The first person to have no cards in their hand wins.


The group I played with enjoyed Timeline: Inventions. It seems to fit well into that “pre big game, game” slot. The aim is very direct and there’s no real tactics to speak of, but because it’s quite a short game, it ends while it’s still interesting. The price point is good as well, barely more expensive than a cinema ticket, and for that you also get a really nice tin to house it.


The art work style is also really cool, and also the choice of “inventions”. Having “RPG games” and a Doors song come up were nice treats.

While no game is perfect, an issue I do have is that one of the dates that’s printed is wrong. It didn’t ruin the game what so ever, and in fact made for a good discussion afterwards.

Another plus is that there are five versions of Timeline! So you can take your pick of what you think your group would like. Timeline is available at Waterstones for £12.99 or you can pick all five versions up from Amazon.

I would recommend Timeline: Inventions if you’re looking for a quick, fun game to start your evening and also who knows, you might learn a thing or two. Like, when rubbish bags were invented!


A sample copy was supplied for this review.