Just when we thought “it’s been a while since we had one”, Jackbox Games has released another one of their Party Pack compilations. About a year after the fourth edition, the Jackbox Party Pack 5 is now available on a multitude of systems – we’re reviewing it on a Playstation 4.
It doesn’t really matter what you review a Jackbox Party Pack on though, as it’s out for virtually any current system you can think of, ranging all the way to Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. The reason it’s such a versatile title is that all of the games on there run through Jackbox’s own online portal jackbox.tv – so essentially you’re playing web-based games and using your console (or device) merely as a way of connecting to them. It’s probably not what you bought that Playstation 4 Pro for, but it certainly is a fun way to pass the time with a bunch of friends.
Speaking of which, the five games in this latest party pack are best enjoyed with a couple of friends – three out of the five games have a minimum number of three players, but every one of these games gets progressively better when you have more players to share the experience with. Although the Jackbox games are designed with local multiplayer in mind (so you have that real life interaction after a round or question wraps up), it can in theory also be played with others who log into your virtual “game room” from another location.
Returning in edition number five is You Don’t Know Jack, the non-traditional trivia game that Jackbox introduced way back in 2011. The gameplay for this edition, subtitled “Full Stream”, is largely familiar to those who played any of the previous ones, but thematically it does focus on today’s media consumption and pokes fun at it. It also features the series’ trademark clever question style, though it also requires players to have at least a semi-decent knowledge of trivia to make the most out of it. Those who aren’t as trivia-inclined will likely not have the best of times with You Don’t Know Jack, and would be better suited for one of the other four games in the pack.
The experience that’s furthest removed from You Don’t Know Jack is undoubtedly Zeeple Dome, though it also has a gameshow-type format. This one, however, is much more arcade-oriented, which feels like a bit of a surprising choice for Jackbox Games considering their previous work. Zeeple Dome has you flinging sci-fi characters at aliens in order to take them out. A bit like Angry Birds, but less physics-oriented. My guess is that they wanted to include a more family-friendly title into the mix, but I can’t see Zeeple Dome having too much lasting appeal in a group of more wordplay-oriented adults.
Both Zeeple Dome and You Don’t Know Jack can be played solo though, which isn’t true for the other three games. Split the Room reminded me a little of the recent-ish game Awkward in how it throws out potentially controversial questions in order to “split the room”. When it’s your turn, you complete the question by filling in a blank, and then see how the rest of the players vote on it (yes or no). Split the room evenly, and you score the biggest amount of points. It’s simple, evokes creative answers and tons of laughs, and one of the best new additions in the pack.
Mad Verse City is a robot-themed rap battle turned Jackbox game, and can make for some hilarious fun even if none of the players are in any way musically inclined. You basically complete a rap lyric the best way you can as you face off against another player, and then the remaining players vote on the best rap. Depending on the group, this means you can win with something completely nonsensical – but obviously this is part of the Jackbox charm.
The last game is one that I think would be a great icebreaker of a game even in a professional/office setting. Patently Stupid is a mix between shark tank, Pictionary and Jackbox, as it gives you a problem to solve and time for you to come up with a creative solution or invention to tackle it. You can draw and add taglines, after which other players will vote on the best idea. I’m horrible at drawing anything halfway decent on a smartphone screen (tablets work better, but probably wouldn’t have saved me either), but the concept is a great one in combining creative thinking in both an abstract and a visual sense.
Depending on the (size of the) group you’re playing with, there is certainly going to be something in this pack for everyone. Zeeple Dome might be an unconventional entry, but it’s certain to entertain the younger crowd that also wants a turn – perfect for when the adult part of the group takes a break for food and drinks.