It’s that time of year once again! Time for a new Jackbox Party Pack! So, gather your friends, pull up a chair and sit down for… you know what? You probably know the drill by now. The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is out now and with it another five party games, one a returning sequel and four brand new experiences. Every year I’m always impressed at how the team manages to squeeze out even more fun and hilarity from its party-style premise and found myself especially keen to check in on this year’s efforts. How do they stack up?
Quick note. Those of you new to the world of Jackbox Party Pack will find five party games all controllable via a smart device or computer. These games often cover everything from drawing to being funny to trivia to social deduction. So, that note aside let’s kick off with the first game.
Drawful is this year’s returning fan favourite receiving the update treatment in Drawful: Animate. Where the original two games saw players doing their best (or worst as was often the case) to draw prompts sent to them for others to then try and guess, Drawful: Animate now has you drawing two images that continuously loop creating a simple animated effect (if used well). At its core, this is still very much more Drawful which is by no means a bad thing especially since the original blueprint still holds up very well. The new wrinkle of having players create two-frame animations, while slight, is certainly a fun one though, offering an extra layer of hilarity to the mix. Players can jump right into a game, create their own prompts, play themed games or draw animations based on prompts featuring the name of other players. All in all, this is a safe sequel but a fun one nonetheless.
Weapons Drawn is a complex beast, arguably the most complex game in the entire Jackbox Party Pack series to date. Hell, even after playing through an entire game, half the group still had questions. Players take on the role of murderers and detectives starting off by drawing weapons whilst hiding a letter from their name within it (their calling card). Next, everyone will secretly come up with a random name for a guest they will bring along to a ball (their accomplice). Following this, players will try to guess which accomplice belongs to which player with the first successful candidate getting to murder said person. After this *takes a breath* players attempt to figure out who did the killing by looking at the pictures drawn earlier as well as the murder weapon and then trying to identify and match the hidden letters. If that all sounds rather confusing… well then that’s because it is.
While I appreciate Jackbox Games trying to experiment and offer something unique, it comes at the expense of pick up and play simplicity. As a result, players would lose interest and even those that felt determined to ‘get it’ weren’t entirely convinced by the end. There is a really fascinating idea at the core of Weapons Drawn and perhaps it’ll reveal itself more after repeated plays. For now, the overly complicated nature makes this the weaker effort of the bunch.
Job Job definitely created the biggest and most thunderous laughs of the pack making it a favourite right out the gate. In it, you’re all competing for a job that will be awarded to the player with the most points at the end of the game. To do that you’ll all first, answer a handful of ice breaker questions (no less than five words each), with everyone’s responses blended together and then individual words distributed out. Now, players will need to answer another question, this time their responses limited to the words given to them. Similar to Quiplash, answers then go head-to-head with the audience choosing their favourite.
It all feels very similar to previous Jackbox Games favourites like Quiplash and Break the Internet, however, the limiting of the words not only adds an interesting challenge to the mix but also offers plenty of laughs as players submit poorly orchestrated or even nonsensical sentences. This one’s a real winner.
The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is part trivia game and other part big spinning wheel (or dumb luck if you prefer). Players first answer a handful of questions be that multiple choice, matching pairs or actually writing in the answers for themselves among others. Correct answers award slices which can then be placed on a giant spinning wheel. With questions answered, players then take turns to spin said wheel with points given to whoever’s slice it lands on. If multiple players pick the same slice, then those points are shared out. Obviously, the more slices you win, the better your chances of scoring points. The process repeats until players reach a 20,000 point milestone where they’ll then get a chance to spin one final wheel to win the entire game. The winner then gets to pose the game any question they like with a random often flat response.
All in all, we found ourselves really enjoying this one. While yes, luck plays a rather large roll in this game, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t enjoy watching the wheel tick along and crossing fingers. Even if you’re not great when it comes to trivia games, the element of luck offers a helpline keeping things exciting and unpredictable.
Poll Mine isn’t a particularly funny game but it is a rather interesting and thought-provoking one. Players are split into two teams working together to try and escape a mine. In order to do that first, everyone will respond to a poll, ranking answers to random questions like, the worst month to have a wedding or that age-old question of which extinct beasts to bring back. Everyone’s answers collected and calculated; the teams then take turns trying to figure out how the answers are ranked. In the initial round, this is simply a case of trying to guess the top three answers while the final round challenges you to reverse rank from eighth place to first.
This is an enjoyable Family Fortune-esque time with the added wrinkle of trying to discuss with your team without giving too much away to the others (this prevents you for example simply having everyone say aloud how they ranked the answers). This mode does also offer a streamer option where players will face off against the audience, however as the name suggests this will only really appeal to those who stream.
It’s impressive that even eight games deep, the Jackbox Party Pack series continues to deliver a reliable yearly source of laughter and fun. While The Jackbox Party Pack 8 may not offer the best quintet of games the series has packaged together, it’s certainly one of the more varied and hugely entertaining ways to spend an evening with friends and family.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Jackbox Games