If you’re in the market for a party game to keep the masses entertained over the holiday period, or just looking for a bit of a fun-bringer to keep an evening with friends from being reduced to nothing but beer-fuelled arguments, then The Jackbox Party Packs are the way to go. Even though board games have seen something of a revival over recent years, it must be said that there is nothing simpler, or easier, then firing up a games console and running through a variety of mini-games just with the sole intention of having a good old laugh. The setup is a cinch, the content is huge, and the packing away again, after a winner has been crowned, takes less than a second. What’s not to like?
But with three previous Jackbox Party Packs all now available on Xbox One and other consoles, have the team at Jackbox pushed things too far with a fourth edition? Well, I’m here to tell you that answer – and for the most part, it’s all good!
The Jackbox Party Pack 4 consists of five and a half mini-games of fun – Fibbage 3 (and Fibbage: Enough About You making up the half!), Survive the Internet, Monster Seeking Monster, Bracketeering and Civic Doodle. With a decent variety included, you won’t find this pack lacking, and it’s a simply brilliant way of ensuring the party never stops. But what does each game bring?
Well, even though five and a half games are included – that half is vital by the way – it has to be said that one of those is most definitely the black sheep of the family, struggling to really gather much attention in and amongst the company in which it is set.
And that odd one out is Monster Seeking Monster; a dating themed game in which you get to send funny messages to your fellow daters, as you try to hide your secret powers and garner the most amount of dates. To ensure you are the biggest catch, you’ll have six nights worth of game time, with each one allowing you to send up to four messages to the ones that you wish to pair up with. At the end, you get the chance to lock in your date, and should they agree then you’ll be sent arm in arm to the nearest fine dining establishment with a heart above your head. The one who arrives at the end of night six with the most hearts wins the day – and is crowned serial dater of the party.
The problem is that getting in the way is an artificial intelligence robot who is seeking approval status. Should any players fail to interact or take this robot on a date, ensuring he ends proceedings in last place, then humanity as we know it will be ended. It’s a strange little twist and one that I’m not sure works as intended as instead of focusing on getting a date – and the answers that your fellow competitors are giving – much of the time is spent ensuring that this damn robot is kept happy.
I can only really rate each game included in the Jackbox Party Pack 4 by the amount of laughs that come out of the players’ mouths, and whilst Monster Seeking Monster has the catchiest theme tune, it definitely struggles to bring tears of joy.
Thankfully though, that’s pretty much the only downside to the entire pack, for the other four – and a half – games are of top notch quality.
Fibbage 3 is quite possibly the most enticing of all the games included, with its gameplay boiling down to filling in blanks with truths and lies. It’s a clever, fast paced game that urges all players to think about the answers that they are giving – with the whole thing more often than not descending into utter chaos. More excitedly though, is the fact that this comes with Fibbage: Enough About You included, giving the chance for players to guess weird, and rather random, facts about each other. Whilst Fibbage comes with the express intention of you trying to fill in the blanks of specific phrases over and over again, Enough About You ditches those thoughts entirely, instead letting personal truths and lies take centre stage. As you would probably expect, this has the potential to see things drop into a tailspin of craziness, and nine times out of ten that’s exactly what does happen. But that’s pretty much the point of the games included in this pack and neither Fibbage 3 or Fibbage: Enough About You ever fail to amuse the masses over and over again.
Alongside that and Survive The Internet very nearly reaches the same heights of enjoyment as Fibbage, with players filling in and twisting some of the most hilarious web-based comments your mates can muster. It’s fun, and quite possibly the fastest playing game in the pack, no matter whether you have three or eight players partaking. You do have to think though, and it’s sometimes quite tricky to muster up some decent answers that actually make sense. If you do though, then yet again there is room for plenty of laughs right there.
Bracketeering may have the stupidest name in the pack, but it does at least cater for a larger party. Although I’m not sure I’d ever be able to find 15 other friends to play the game with, the option to take it right up to 16 is a good one and should mean that no one is ever left out. How does this one work? Well, it’s basically a rather deranged debate in which you place bets on each others’ – or your own – comments in order to find the funniest, most entertaining comment of all time. Working much like any sports cup tie bracket, these comments will go head to head with each other as they vye for the title of ‘most hilarious’ comment to a statement decided by the team at Jackbox. Frankly put though, it’s a stunning addition to the pack and is the one game that is requested time and time again. That in itself should say something for the quality it brings. Above everything else though, Bracketeering should be played just for the way the narrative is delivered by the over enthusiastic commentator. The superb musical soundtrack is pretty much spot on too.
And then we have Civic Doodle – the game that Draw Something would be should it still be a relevant thing. Before you get worried that your art skills will be brought into question, just remember that humour and wit will always win the day over pure skillfulness and that is never more true here – I didn’t drop GCSE Art for nothing you know.
Split over a number of rounds, each player will need to harness all their artistic talents as they’ve been hired to create murals to enhance Doodle Valley; a city with faceless boring walls. Turning these walls into inspiring works of art is the plan, but, as you can imagine, that doesn’t ever happen. What does ensue, as players go head to head making additions to each drawing, is rather hilarious.
The good thing about Civic Doodle is that you don’t really need to have a way with words either. As long as you can put a finger to screen and doodle away then you can participate in this game. That means it is great for kids of all ages as even the youngest can play along – something which they may struggle to do with the other games.
With Jackbox.tv playing host to all the games, ensuring that a huge number of players can get involved without the need for controllers, and enough family filters to allow even the youngest players to get participating without fear of mind corruption, this latest pack is a great way to fulfil the needs of any party. The fact that players only need to utilise the internet capabilities of their smartphone, tablet or laptop makes it hugely accessible to all and should mean that the festive season, or any party in fact, is completed without a hitch.
Just be aware though that it all works best with four or more players. The games themselves mostly work with three playing at once (Fibbage can function just fine with two), but for the ultimate fun, the more playing the more entertaining the antics will be. That’s not just because a party only really kicks off once more attendees arrive, but in the case of The Jackbox Party Pack 4, it’s also because the AI that occasionally has to be called upon just isn’t funny enough in comparison.
If you add in some lovely visuals, some great sounds, the chance to stream and let more participate as the audience via the likes of Twitch and the usual web browsers, and you should be finding enough variety in the questions (and answers) to ensure that it is pretty much nailed on that The Jackbox Party Pack 4 will cater for the needs of the many.
Grab your phone, call your friends and promise them some free beers as The Jackbox Party Pack 4 is a brilliant combination of mini-games that any budding host will need to add to their arsenal. It may just save Christmas and New Year!