Review: Jackbox Party Pack 5
- - 9/109/10
Jackbox Party Pack 5 continues the company’s track record of polished and thoughtful party game experiences. With refreshing concepts and the usual humor, Jackbox knocks their fifth installment out of the park.
Jackbox’s penchant for witty, fun, hilarious experiences continues with their fifth party pack. This games within live up to their predecessors while covering new ground and polishing details that were hindrances in previous installments. As far as party games go, Jackbox Party Pack 5 rests among its brethren as the best of the best.
The biggest difference between Jackbox’s fifth outing and previous collections is the level of concentration required to learn the ropes. The games here are as fun as ever, but the learning curve reaches a new high. The payoff, however, is that the games are immensely enjoyable with a group of experienced partiers. Take the time to let these titles steep, and you’re in for a gut-busting whirlwind.
Each game has specific rules and nuances, so I’ll touch on each individually. The score at the end is indicative of my rating of these games as a collection.
You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream
There’s no way around this: You Don’t Know Jack plays like a dream and is an absolute blast. Melding high stakes trivia with quick thinking and a downright hilarious fake content feed, it’s the pinnacle of trivia games. Compared to Jackbox’s Trivia Murder Party, it holds its own with a more straightforward theme and unique insular jokes. The only downside is the inevitable knowledge gaps between players. If one player has an encyclopedic mind, it’s rarely a contest. Still, Jackbox does a bang-up job of evening the playing field in various ways.
The “screw” mechanic goes a long way in putting players on even ground, making it harder for leading participants to answer their questions. The need for speed is also prevalent, somewhat negating the ability of people who know answers but aren’t quick on the draw.
Split the Room
Split the Room puts a unique twist on the Quiplash format by feeding players situations with a blank word or phrase. Players fill in the blank, and others answer “yes” or “no” to the scenario at hand. Splitting the room, or earning votes on either side, gives the answering player more points. In other words, you want people to answer differently when you complete the scenario.
This departure from the typical “I hope they ONLY vote for me!” format proves refreshing, but it leaves behind some of the wacky antics found in the likes of Fibbage or Quiplash.
Mad Verse City
By far the best of the litter, Mad Verse City is everything I love about Jackbox. Players simply fill in a blank with a word or phrase, then write an entire line that rhymes with the first one. MC Robots read them in computerized voices, often terribly screwing up the rhythm. Of the five games in the pack, this one made me full-on belly laugh the most. Forcing rhymes brings out the best and the worst of people’s poetic experience, and the entire game just plays like some convoluted robotic comedy bit.
Patently Stupid earns my silver medal. It’s a shining example of creativity and worthwhile departure from the usual Jackbox format. Players submit “problems” with funny fill-in-the-blank answers, then other players “solve” those problems with inventions. The inventions include a drawing, a name, a tagline, and a presentation.
The presentation is Patently Stupid’s bread and butter. Sure, the computer will present your invention for you if you wish, but it also allows players to do make their own pitch for the problems at hand. Among my friends, I was the only one to take advantage of this option, and by all accounts (just my own, honestly), I killed it. When you solve a problem like “I want to have people over, but my IBS just gets in the way” with “Bathroom fairies—friends that come to the bathroom WITH you!” hilarity ensues.
I really wanted to like Zeeple Dome, but it just doesn’t work within the Jackbox format. Players fling on-screen avatars at aliens in a deadly arena. The mechanics work like a slingshot—pull your finger down on the screen and your avatar will fling upwards—but the lag between phone and screen is too much to make this a worthwhile game. Seeing my character miss an alien by an inch without being able to quickly adjust with another flick of my finger proved frustrating to the point of rage quitting. Zeeple Dome would be infinitely better served with a normal controller and near immediate reaction time.
With a healthy stable of amazing games and just one dud, Jackbox Party Pack 5 iterates on the successes of its predecessors to mostly positive effect. With a few misses but many more big wins in terms of game design and refreshing concepts, this installment is worth the ride and will guarantee laughs.