The Jackbox Party Pack games have long since been a staple of quite possibly any good party out there, but have especially grown in popularity over the recent stay at home orders. It is under these circumstances that I discovered the series, as well as the similarly played Use Your Words, and have logged a good 100+ hours across them with friends around the world over Twitch. These are exciting, enjoyable titles that really tickle your funny bone and make you put your thinking cap on. Finally, when the world arguably needed to hear the robotic Jackbox Games slogan the most, Party Pack 7 is here, promising plenty of fun for people everywhere. However, does it live up to the hype?
Beginning broadly with the presentation of the package itself, The Jackbox Party Pack 7‘s aesthetic is inspired by events such as Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Given the cancellation of events such as the aforementioned parade this year, there is a warming sense of comfort in the menus. It is clean, charming and easy to navigate, like any good Jackbox menu should be. The team have also made some pretty big strides in terms of accessibility this time around, clearly defining family friendly games, allowing for tons of options, and even adding QOL improvements such as reading a room code aloud for when a stream gets blurry. These fantastic options really make the game pop, but what people are ultimately here for are the offerings themselves. It is here why Party Pack 7 ever so slightly deflates – but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.
Beginning with Quiplash 3, this is the Quiplash you know and love with a new claymated aesthetic. For those unaware, Quiplash consists of creating quippy answers to a given prompt, and the choice is down to the audience and players to vote on the funniest one in a head to head showdown. However, what truly makes this version of Quiplash the best is the level of customization. Like in Drawful 2, custom prompts stuffed with in-jokes can be created, as well as some brand new packs made by Jackbox themselves and the community at large, allowing for a ton of content. The vanilla game is also incredibly solid with topical prompts and plenty of opportunities for great quips. Even better is the revamping of the third round with the new Thrip Lash mode, which is easily the best finale across the Quiplash subseries. Overall, I had a great time with this one.
I wish I could say the same about The Devils and the Details. In this game, players are tasked with solving a list of chores through Warioware style mini-games. It requires teamwork, co-ordination and effort. However, in order to win you need to maximize your own score through sabotaging activities which can harm the collective good. Fail to reach a collective score by the end of an in-game day and you’re toast. Continue for an in-game week and try not to kill each other. This is a fun set-up in theory, but due to the restrictions of the pandemic it is difficult to translate to streaming, and the prisoner’s dilemma-type set-up has the potential to wreck more friendships than Mario Kart. There’s a solid foundation here, and a great aesthetic, but this game seems unfortunately poorly timed for the package. Perhaps once we emerge back into the new normal, the game will grow… but it is the weakest point of the package.
Champ’d Up, on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic. Players need to draw a character that fits a certain category of champions (i.e. draw Ronald McDonald “The Champion of Fast Food”) within a time limit, and then will be given another character to draw. The catch is, you don’t know the prompt for the second character; only what a competitor has drawn. Sometimes you luck out and draw exactly what the round needs, and sometimes you woefully miss the mark. Couple this with some truly crazy drawings and some creative trolling and this game will keep you on your toes. Finally, the audience gets to vote which character exemplifies the championship and you get to witness your creation face off in an epic battle against the competition. It’s great fun, easily streamable and only really held back by some technical issues that faced the game during launch. These issues, to the best of my knowledge, have been fixed, and the game itself is a complete gem.
Talking Points, the next game in the list, is not for the faint of heart. Your job is to come up with a deck of slides and pass them on to a speaker who needs to come up with a speech on the spot. This can include reading aloud some of the lovely slides their peers have written for them and describing images. This game is a fun concept, especially for those who love public speaking and improv, but for those who have a fear of those it is definitely worth sitting out. Unfortunately, this mini-game is not particularly stream friendly, and is better suited to Discord and Zoom play-alongs, as well as in-person sessions.
Finally, Blather Round is arguably my favourite game in the pack. Here players have to describe a piece of pop culture using ad-lib-like sentences, and a very limited pool of pre-selected text options. For example, at one point I had to describe the classic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes to my friends, and did so using sentences like “Look, a child deliquent” and “The one with the fuzzy creature”. This game is hard to master, but you feel like a genius when you solve the puzzle, and at times like a fool when you don’t. It is a bit harder to describe, but is absolutely one that needs to be played, as frankly no other Jackbox game out there is like it. It also benefits from being extremely stream friendly, player friendly and appropriate for all ages, meaning it’s an excellent pick for family party nights.
All in all, The Jackbox Party Pack 7 on Xbox One is a solid entry in the long-running series. Two games need an in-person or private chat to be enjoyed to their fullest abilities, but the other three titles not only fit well into streaming, but they are also delightfully fun to play. The amount of creativity, variety and fun to be had in this game makes up for most of its shortcomings, and like any Party Pack it is destined to be someone’s favourite. I have had a great time playing this with friends, and while I don’t see this seventh iteration quite displacing The Jackbox Party Pack 3, The Jackbox Party Pack 4 and The Jackbox Party Pack 6 (my most commonly played, much loved, packs), I still see this as a valuable part of our rotation.