Whilst I’ve never been someone who loves party games, there’s something about the Jackbox titles that keep me coming back for more. Maybe it’s the convenience of being able to use your phones as controllers, maybe it’s the fact that all the game support eight players, or maybe it’s just that I love how zany each game is – who knows? Either way, they keep me coming back every time a new entry is released, and it’s been exactly the same with The Jackbox Party Pack 5.
Like the other titles in the Jackbox series, The Jackbox Party Pack 5 features five games to play: You Don’t Know Jack, Split The Room, Mad Verse City, Zeeple Dome and Patently Stupid. I’m going to cover them in the order that they’re presented to you in-game, with You Don’t Know Jack standing out as the package’s main title.
Oh, and before we start, most of these games require at least three players to play. The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is naturally more enjoyable if you have more players with you anyway, but some games can’t be played with just two of you. With streaming functions in place it’s easier than ever to get more players to join in on the fun, but if you can get eight players in one place it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have on any console.
You Don’t Know Jack is all about answering questions, except these questions are usually incredibly strange (but in a good way). With a good variety of question types and a fantastic presentation (Cookie Masterson makes a triumphant return), it’s a great place to start if you’re new to the Jackbox series. Sure, it’s an unconventional take on trivia, but there’s simply no denying its brilliance.
The first new addition I’ll be talking about is Split The Room, which challenges the player to fill in the missing blank on different scenarios and then asks the other player what they would do. If the other players are split in their decision or take a long time to think about it, you get more points. If they all go one way, it means the scenario you invented wasn’t divisive enough and you get less points. Simple.
It’s a very fun game, though it is one that’s better with more players. Of course, that could be said about any game in any Jackbox package, but it felt particularly fitting here. That being said, I played it with just three other players and we still had a blast, so even smaller groups can enjoy it.
Mad Verse City is a hell of a lot of fun to play. Ever watch 8 Mile and thought to yourself “I could be a rap-battling star”? Well now you can, with the game asking you to input words that are then put into sentences, with the player then having to follow them up with some sick rhymes of their own. I’ve put hours into this game so far and it never got boring, with the assortment of lines seemingly endless. Want to know the best part? The game reads out your raps for you, with the robotic voices somehow nailing every burn in the perfect manner.
Rap battling a friend and having everyone else vote for who was the best is just so neat, and it made Mad Verse City my favourite new game in The Jackbox Party Pack 5. Honestly, even if you’ve got no interest in rapping you’ll have fun here, but be warned: if any of your friends have a vicious edge to their insults, you’ll see it here.
Out of the entire package of games, it’s Zeeple Dome which I enjoyed the least. Stepping away from the conventional approach of having players write or draw, Zeeple Dome is more of an action game with the player sling-shotting their characters around a dome to hit baddies. How do they slingshot? By pulling back on their phone and aiming of course – this is Jackbox, after all.
The idea itself could work well, but it just feels so awkward and… well… boring to play. It was tricky to nail the accuracy of your shots with the player having to observe both their phone and the TV screen, whilst the fact that certain enemies could only be defeated by specific players made everything all the more difficult.
One of my favourite things about the Jackbox games is that anyone can play them as long as they have a smart phone. They don’t need gaming knowledge or experience – just wit and a bit of a sense of humour. Zeeple Dome just feels too fiddly to play and it’s something I noticed with some of my non-gaming friends, whilst the core design elements of the game just didn’t make for a good time.
Every Jackbox title needs a game that focuses on drawing, and with The Jackbox Party Pack 5 that’s Patently Stupid. The game challenges players to invent scenarios that’d demand a new invention, and then those scenarios are shared out to the other players to try and draw and brand a product to go along with it. Once done, the game will either pitch the product for you (which is actually pretty effective) or you can do it yourself and make a fool out of yourself in front of your friends and family.
It’s all good fun, but my only issue with it was the lack of drawing tools. Whilst I appreciate that Patently Stupid is designed to be a game where you make quick doodles, sometimes I couldn’t quite draw what I wanted to thanks to a limited brush or set of colours. Other Jackbox games that have focused on drawing have offered a more versatile means to draw, so it was a little bit disappointing here.
That doesn’t make Patently Stupid bad though, and it was probably my second favourite new addition to the package. You’ll certainly see which ones of your friends and family are talented at drawing and, of course, you can expect to see a few instances of penises drawn by the more childish ones too – it wouldn’t be a Jackbox game without a few doodles of dicks though, right?
Developer: Jackbox Games
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC