Summer is over; the days of spending the evenings in the beer garden with friends feels like a lifetime away once again. Instead, evenings with friends are now consisting of gathering at one house to continue the drinking and joviality, but in a much warmer setting.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5 arrives at just the right time as the temperature cools down, moving the party from the garden to back inside the house, bringing with it five games that can be controlled through your mobile phone. They aren’t all trivia-based either – this sequel also includes a rhyming game based on freestyle rapping, and a physics-based game.
First up though is the return of seminal You Don’t Know Jack, which has been missing for the last few Party Packs. This is the Full Stream version brought to you in association with Binjpipe – a faux-streaming service that acts as a meta-service when playing YDKJ. But anyone who has played a YDKJ game will know that the absurdist humour is front and centre when trying to beat your friends.
YDKJ is very much the same game as has been in previous Party Packs. The same cryptic questions and the same Cookie Masterson asking the questions; nothing much has changed at all. Whilst its return is welcome, nothing new has been added apart from some updated questions. It can also be played solo for when you need a Jackbox fix but are home alone.
In Split the Room, players are tasked with providing missing words to situations. But rather than provide an answer everyone would normally agree on, you score more points if you provide a controversial answer that, when put to the rest of the group, splits the room. It’s a game designed to cause conflict – in a humorous way – and regularly dissolves into personal attacks against fellow players, pitting them against one another. But that is the beauty of it, by providing your unique answers the game can be tailored to your group’s style.
Due to the nature of requiring input from other players, this needs to be played with a group of at least three.
Mad Verse City also requires at least three players but randomly assigns a single opponent in one vs. one rap battles. Don’t worry if there is still an odd number, an AI opponent named Gene can be your opponent instead.
This one is easily the standout game in the pack as it uses text-to-speech technology to ‘rap’ out whatever you type in on your phone screen. And we really mean anything.
Difficulties can arise though in Mad Verse City, especially at the beginning of each round; you are asked to provide a word with very little context and most of the time when it comes to reading out the sentence in full, it makes no sense. A bit more context would have helped solve the issue, but at a cost of being less funny when it comes to the sentence being read out.
If wordplay isn’t up your street – or you simply cannot rhyme – then Zeeple Dome is the game in the pack for you. Instead of typing words on your screen, you instead control a small alien that you must flick across your phone screen. This then transfers to the TV in a battle arena where players must work co-operatively to take down the enemy aliens. It can also be played single player.
It’s certainly new for Jackbox but is only fun in small doses. The actual controls on the phone can be fiddly and unresponsive at times, and even with a group playing does overstay its welcome.
Finally, there is Patently Stupid, which takes the best things about previous Jackbox games into one form. In this game you must create a scenario of an everyday problem that is passed to another player, who must then design a solution to fix the problem by drawing it and coming up with a catchy name and tagline. Points are then awarded by players who get to vote on the best/funniest inventions.
Patently Stupid allows players to be a little bit more creative than others on the list by introducing a drawing element to things. It’s also one of the longer games on the list due to the various elements involved so feels more substantial and fleshed out than others in the pack.
There are 20 achievements in total, evenly split across the five games. Zeeple Dome has the easiest list as only one requires any additional players and the remaining three can be unlocked without any real difficulty. Other achievements in place are for achieving high scores in each of the games, losing a game to Gene in Mad Verse City, the CPU in Patently Stupid, and for having a lot of players partake in a round of You Don’t Know Jack.
The fifth edition of Jackbox Party Pack brings some notable additions in the forms of Mad Verse City and Patently Stupid. These two can stand up with some of the best from other collections such as Trivia Murder Party and Monster Seeking Monster. The others in this pack don’t feel as good, or in YDKJ’s case, don’t offer anything new. Still, the overall package is good fun for when you have a few friends over. As long as they each have a smartphone.