Developer: Jackbox Games
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Another year, another Jackbox party game, with 2017’s edition being the Jackbox Party Pack 4. For anyone who hasn’t heard of them, the Jackbox Party games are a collection of small games that are designed to be played with a crowd of people. Everyone links up their mobile phones to the game, and voila, you’re in on the action.
This might mean you’re playing a trivia game, an artistic game, a game where you have to lie to friends, or even one where you have manipulate what they say – it takes the conventional idea of a party game and add its own twist, ensuring that gamers are left laughing at the results of each showdown between friends. They’ve always been a lot of fun and it’s a series that I’ve spent a shocking amount of time playing over the years.
Each release has its own set of party games though and Jackbox Party Pack 4 is no different. Within its collection of five games is a returning classic and four all-new releases, so there’s certainly plenty on offer to sink your hours into ready for the upcoming holiday season.
One thing that’s worth mentioning before running through the games is that Jackbox Party Pack 4 is best played with a group of players. Most games require a minimum of three players anyway, but to really get the most out of it you’re going to want to have at least a group of six. It isn’t compulsory by any means and games can still be enjoyed with a lower number, but it’s the best way to get the definitive (and the most hilarious) Jackbox experience.
The returning game this year is Fibbage, everyone’s favourite lying game. We’re heading into the third rendition of the game, but its appearance here is no surprise; it’s probably the most popular of the Jackbox Party Pack series and one that’s easy for just about anyone to get into.
In Fibbage 3, players are given what is often a ridiculous statement but with a blank spot for them to fill in. It’s up to you to come up with an answer that’s not only lives up to the ludicrous statement, but is also believable too – you need to fool the other players into believing that your answer is the correct one. You’ll get points for every other player you fool into selecting your answer, whilst you’ll also get points if you manage to select the correct one yourself. It’s all good fun and it’s one of the easiest games to lose hours playing.
Interestingly, there’s an additional game mode included this year called ‘Fibbage: Enough About You’. In this mode, players have to make statements about themselves that are both true and false – it’s up to other players to guess which one is correct in order to gain points. If you trick them, you gain points instead. It adds something completely different to the traditional formula, though it could be a little difficult to get into if you were playing with people you aren’t so familiar with.
Survive the Internet
Survive the Internet sees players answer simple questions with a simple response. However, the answer you give will then be sent to another player, who has to take your response completely out of context to provide a new question that manages to link into what you said in ridiculous ways. One example of this was when I played with someone who had to describe Santa Claus – it didn’t take long for ‘he comes down your chimney to leave you gifts’ to turn into a dark, twisted subject.
It all works well though and is one of the standout new titles that’s included in Jackbox Party Pack 4. You never quite know whether a statement is going to turn funny, rude, or just twisted, but it’s always great to see players yelp with aghast when they see that what they’ve said has been turned into something that’s utterly ridiculous.
Bracketeering sees all players being given the same statement that they have to give an answer to, with the answers then facing off against each other in a competition bracket with players voting for which ones they like the best. Eventually, it’ll narrow down to just two answers, with the best answer typically voted the winner.
I really liked the idea of Bracketeering and it still stands out as one of my favourite games in the package, but I did find that players would typically know what answer was going to win from the start. There’s always one player who’d put out an ingenious answer that got everyone laughing, and it would often make all of the other bets feel redundant – I’ve played it a good amount of times now and it was always the case.
At least things spice up in the second round with the game making a statement again, but changing it up when players actually had to vote. It added a sense of unpredictability to proceedings and the varied statements ensured there were always some strange results.
Bracketeering is probably the easiest game to play though and is definitely a lot of fun – it can just be a bit too predictable during the first round.
It wouldn’t be a Jackbox Party Pack without a game that involved drawing, and Civic Doodle offers this year’s artistic showdowns.
The game starts with two players facing off in a drawing battle, with each one having to complete a pre-existing mural by adding their own personal touches to it. Once completed, the other players vote for which one is the best. Then, another two players face off and add some additional extras to the winning piece. This goes on for a while, with all of the successful artists getting to add their own little touches to the masterpiece. Be warned though: a wonderful little car I was drawing ended up getting turned into a giant penis, so you can expect to see all of your Van Gogh-like work ruined by your friends if they’re particularly childish.
The following round spices things up by allowing everyone to draw and continually add to the same piece, but it’s just the same as the first round but on a larger scale. It’s a lot of fun though, and whilst I don’t think Civic Doodle is as good as Bidiots or Drawful, it’s still a great addition to the package.
Monster Seeking Monster
However, the final game Monster Seeking Monster wasn’t. Now I’ll be honest from the start, a few of my friends who I played with really enjoyed this monster-dating sim, but it just wasn’t for me.
Things start off with each player given the role of a monster with a special ability. It’s your job then to message other players and try and convince them to go on a date with you. At the end of each night, there’s a breakdown of who went on a date with who, and who got turned down. The winner is the player with the most hearts after six nights have gone by.
There is a clever twist in that the different monster’s abilities can influence who you date (one power might have you steal hearts from anyone who accepts a date with you, whilst another might hide your score for example), but I just couldn’t get into the game. The whole concept felt overly convoluted and drawn out, which broke away from the convenience and ease of playing that the other party games offer. I’m sure plenty of players will enjoy it and could easily find something they really like about it, but Monster Seeking Monster wasn’t for me.
Jackbox Party Pack 4 as a whole has a good variety of enjoyable games that’ll certainly keep a group of friends entertained all night, with titles like Fibbage 3, Survive the Internet, and Civic Doodle in particular providing plenty of laughs. It really is more of the same that you’d expect from the series though, so anyone who has played them before will know what they’re letting themselves in for.
There are a couple of games that didn’t always hit the mark, with Monster Seeking Monster in particular being one I wouldn’t mind never playing again, but in all there’s enough here for returning Jackbox Party Pack fans to justify a purchase. Jackbox Party Pack 4 might not be the best collection of party games that the series has produced, but it’s still a pretty good one.