The Jackbox Party Pack 7 was, perhaps oddly enough, one of the releases we were most looking forward to this pre-holiday season. It’s out for all the usual platforms, and we played the PlayStation 4 version.
It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a bit of a crazy year for many reasons, but as people self-quarantined we saw an increase in sales for videogames, especially digital copies. Obviously that’s easy to explain, but another trend was that – as people couldn’t see each other in person except through video chats – the Jackbox games quickly became even more popular than before. As a way for people to come together and play what was a close equivalent to the local multiplayer fun that they provide, tons of people were sharing their screens over Zoom or Youtube to help with the isolation that 2020 brought with it.
Now it’s almost November, and although not much has changed there is a new collection of Jackbox games to play with, and that also means a new reason to set up those remote party sessions again. Jackbox Party Pack 7 has five new games to play, with only one of them being a sequel to a previous release – Quiplash 3.
In terms of providing something new, it’s probably the most disappointing game in the pack, even though there’s a good reason Jackbox keeps coming back to it – it’s still fun to play. Besides a visual overhaul, however, the only new aspect is a new way to play the final round – now dubbed “Thriplash”. Here, you play in pairs and come up with a “top 3” of answers for a question, while others vote on the best list of three. It’s a small change, and one that works best in a large group.
Speaking of which, four out of the five games in the pack are for a minimum of three players, and all of the games max out at eight – although obviously you can share a device, especially when playing remotely. The one exception is “Blather ‘Round”, which can be played with just two players and is a lot like Charades – or “Act It Out”, if we’re staying with videogame analogies. Rather than acting out the word or name you’re going for, however, you provide hints to other players based on predefined answers, and then also use the guesses from people to further steer them in the right direction. As different as it is to not use your body, the dynamics quickly feel very familiar, and this was a popular game to play with just two players as we waited for others to join us.
Drawing also makes a return in Jackbox Party Pack 7, with Champ’d Up. It’s essentially a fighting game where you draw and color in your own characters, so it relies much more heavily on visual creativity (and drawing ability) than the other games. Playing this one on a tablet definitely helped me to come up with something somewhat close to what I was going for, but others who were also not creatively-inclined struggled to retain their attention after a few brief but fun rounds. This one’s mostly for those who enjoy getting creative and drawing, but doesn’t come close to the delights that (for example) Drawful offers.
Next up is The Devil And The Details, which emphasizes teamwork as you play as a family of devils surrounded by humans as you try to act normal and blend in. Since you’re not actually human, you have to help each other out by giving hints as to what you’re supposed to be doing – all so that you’re not found out by your new neighbors. At the same time, everyone’s also trying to score points through solo challenges – so that you end up with the most points at the end of the game. These goals don’t always gel together very well, which can lead to hilarious results in what is a very different and refreshing take on the Jackbox formula of multiplayer fun.
We’ve had a ton of fun with the last game, Talking Points, but it’s one that’s most suitable for an environment where you’re physically together in a room or have a streaming setup where you can all see and hear each other. Zoom works for this, but that’s much easier to set up on a PC than it is on a PS4. In short, Talking Points has you present on a topic without the ability to prepare, and what you’re given is a selection of crazy prompts, slides and pictures, all thanks to the help of what other players submitted and a single player whose role it is to assist you by selecting pictures for you to talk about. Things can get hilarious quickly, especially as the night gets longer.
We may not live in a world that’s suitable for in-person party games at the moment, but the Jackbox Party Pack 7 is a great way for families and friends to have fun during the rare chances that we get to do so. The bulk of the games work very well when streamed online as well, opening up options even when you don’t get to be with friends and loved ones as much as you’d like. As such, this pack couldn’t have come at a better time – something to look forward to over the holidays.